Dan Dare
Dan Dare: The Ship that Lived
Medium: comic
Year: 1958
Keywords: Dan Dare, SF
Writer: Frank Hampson, Alan Stranks
Artist: Frank Hampson, Eric Eden, Don Harley, Desmond Walduck
Country: UK
Format: 12 two-page episodes, The Eagle Vol.9 #5-16
Website category: Comics
Review date: 4 June 2021
dan dare
It's an exciting footnote to Reign of the Robots. That had ended on a cliffhanger, with Sir Hubert and an unconscious Dan Dare in the spaceship Anastasia. They've destroyed the Mekon's satellite that controlled his robots, but it was pretty much a suicide mission and they're about to hit a Treen space cordon. An entire spaceshark squadron is about to hit them and, in fairness, looking pretty damn cool. (This story has some impressive action.)
They survive that with the help of allies in disguise and a spaceship dogfight, only to go into a death dive to Venus. Sir Hubert manages to wake Dan at the last minute, only for him to refuse an order to abandon the Anastasia, because it's the Anastasia.
Next up: the Lava Plains of Venus (i.e. acidic silicon quicksands), jungles and Treen snipers.
Our heroes have allies on Venus, but they've still got to get off the Anastasia before she dissolves. It's all rather good. The story's brevity and narrative focus means that it's actually exciting. It falls apart a bit in the last few pages, though, with the Mekon escaping and the story fizzling out. (Oh, and good grief, the Mekon's frail. When they pull him off that chair, he's got limbs like threads of molten cheese.)
There's also a pleasing bit of hard SF. Sir Hubert makes some improvised hot air balloons. "Mm," he thinks, "Venus gravity is 15% less than Earth - and there's a natural 'thermal' here. These suits should do it." That all makes sense. They're on a Lava Plain, so there would indeed be strong thermals. As for Venus's gravity, looking up 21st century figures shows that Sir Hubert's numbers are slightly optimistic but not far out. (Earth's gravity is 9.8 m/s2 and Venus's is 8.8 m/s2.)
This isn't an important Dan Dare strip. It's not showcasing what that series does best. However, it's full of danger, thrilling images and imaginative Venusian weird stuff. It's even quite fast-paced.