Graphic Novel Classic Library: Dare

Published On April 29, 2010 | By Richard Bruton | Classic library, Comics, Reviews

Dare (from Yesterday’s Tomorrows)

by Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes

Yesterdays tomorrows ltd ed

Yesterday’s Tomorrows is a collection of Rian Hughes’ retro futurist artwork, featuring stories that have been unavailable for many years. And the centrepiece of this book is his reworking of the British science fiction comics legend that is Colonel Dan Dare. A lesser artist might have swamped Dare in darkness to reflect the mood of the story, but not Hughes. His Dare is a technicolour explosion that captures that lost dream of a future in the stars; it’s the zenith of Hughes’ style, his most angular, cutting edge and intricately art-deco work.

Written by Grant Morrison, this anti-Thatcherite tale of a future gone wrong is definitely not the Dan Dare of old. This is Morrison completely deconstructing the character to both represent an iconic past and to contrast against the story’s bleak landscape and subjugated people. This is a Colonel Dare retired, directionless, tired, disillusioned and seemingly powerless to effect change in the world he no longer recognises.

dan_dare

Dare is brought back by the government, led by the Thatcher-esque Jocelyn Peabody. He may be a washed out ex-hero, but brand Dare still says patriotism, individual strength and a glittering modernist future. But the government’s desire for power eclipses anything Dare can imagine, that, almost inevitably involves Dare’s old nemesis; The Mekon. Britain’s food crisis will be averted by the Mekon’s highly addictive food substitute Manna, but it’s also an aphrodisiac that will lead to mass copulation in the streets and the complete subjugation of the Mekon’s new children. It’s Dare’s final mission and here, unquestionably, The Mekon has won.

Morrison and Hughes’ very down to earth science fiction tale still strikes a chord today, with all it’s political manoeuvrings and obsessions with power above all. The end is as downbeat and final as you could get, with Morrison first humiliating Dare and finally allowing him a last, redemptive, heroic act to thwart The Mekon. It may not be the Dan Dare you half remember, but as an alternative look at an icon of British comics royalty it’s incredibly powerful work.

Dare is available as part of Rian Hughes’ Yesterdays Tomorrows book, an essential collection of stories with Hughes’ artwork that was reviewed here.

Richard Bruton.

Like this Article? Share it!

About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

One Response to Graphic Novel Classic Library: Dare

  1. Joe says:

    In the Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine Dan Dare a couple of years back there is an echo of this, when a very Tony Blair like Prime Minister seeks out a retired Dan and asks him if he will return to face a new threat from the Mekon. Dan agrees instantly. The PM says to him you don’t care for me, my type of government, or the way our country has gone, but you’re still willing to risk your life to protect it all? I don’t understand that.

    And Dare looks at him and simply says “no, I suppose you don’t”. He doesn’t need to elaborate, he’s the good, old fashioned hero, who’s always going to do the right thing. Modern political maneuvering for power or straightforward old hero doing what’s right, guess which is always going to be more appealing?