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Out of Retirement: Ennis Talks “Dan Dare”

by  in Comic News Comment
Out of Retirement: Ennis Talks “Dan Dare”
“Dan Dare” #1 (Cover A) on sale now

Audiences were first introduced to Dan Dare in the pages of a weekly British comics magazine called “Eagle” in 1950. Created by Frank Hampson, Dare was space-faring science fiction hero reminiscent of America’s Buck Rogers. In the almost 60 years since his creation, Dare’s graced the pages of sci-fi magazines like “2000AD” and undergone many a re-imagining, including a notably bleak turn in the ’90s at the hands of Grant Morrison.

One of Britain’s most enduring pulp characters, Dan Dare is set to return to the spotlight in a new Virgin Comics series penned by Garth Ennis (“The Boys,” “Punisher”). CBR News caught up with Ennis and got some details about Virgin’s new “Dan Dare.”

A fan of the character since his youth, Ennis was first introduced to a decidedly different Dan Dare than the one Frank Hampson first imagined. “The version I first read had almost nothing to do with the original: my Dan Dare was the super-violent, brutal ’70s incarnation in ‘2000AD,’ which was tremendous fun when I was seven years old,” Garth Ennis told CBR News. “You don’t have to read much of the original 1950s-era stories to see that ‘2000AD’s’ guy is not Dan Dare. The real Dan Dare is stalwart, upright, decent and true, and certainly never says ‘ain’t’ or ‘gonna’ like that rough fellow in ‘2000AD.'”

Art from “Dan Dare” #1

Rather than attempt another re-imagining of the character, Ennis returned to Hampson’s characterization of Dan Dare but set his story 15-20 years after the original strip. Colonel Daniel MacGregor Dare, as first presented in the pages of “Eagle,” was the most renowned pilot in the Interplanetary Space Fleet. More often than not, the colonel found himself pitted against his arch nemesis The Mekon, the leader of a race of extraterrestrial reptiles called the Treen who made many attempts to conquer the Earth. At the start of Ennis’ story, the one-time hero pilot has retired to a solitary, asteroid-based home and left his adventuring days behind him. But when the Treen make yet another incursion into Earth space, no one is better suited to fend them off than Dan Dare.

“Dan Dare” #1 on sale now

Virgin’s Gotham Chopra and Sharad Devarajan were already trying to land the publishing rights for Dan Dare when Ennis suggested the project as one he’d “drop anything to do.” The original lineup for the book included Chris Weston on pencils and Gary Erskine on inks, a duo Ennis had worked with previously on “War Stories: Johann’s Tiger” for Vertigo. “Then Chris dropped out,” Ennis said. “He’s the world’s biggest and most devoted Dan Dare fan, and he couldn’t see his way clear to hanging even a fraction of the strip’s classic look. It was only natural for Gary to step in and take over the pencilling chores, and he instantly made the strip his own; updating the look of existing characters, designing the rest of the cast from scratch, inventing space ships, monsters, planets, whole battle fleets. Every page he sends is a real treat.”

Virgin’s new “Dan Dare” is a seven issue miniseries, but Ennis hasn’t ruled out the possibility of doing more.

Courtesy of Virgin Comics, enjoy the following preview of “Dan Dare” #1, one sale now in finer comics stores everywhere.

Now discuss this story in CBR’s Indie Comics forum.

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