(2005) Frank Hampson, Titan Books, £16.99, large hrdbk, 112 pp, ISBN 1-845-76151-0
This is the seventh of the current Titan Books reprints of Dan Dare's Eagle exploits; the fifth story (two of the previous stories spanned two volumes each) originally ran from 28th May 1954 to 6th May 1955 (with a slightly dubious final page featuring a mass shower scene...). Somewhere along the way Eagle had become "companion to" Girl, Swift and Robin. Special guest intro this time around is none other than Sir Tim Rice! Why am I not surprised that he's a Dan Dare fan? And he sounds like a real fan too, none of these 100 word intros for him, by gum, why, there's at least five or six hundred there! He could be arsed! Good on ya, Sir Tim. And there's an article, reprinted from Eagle Times, "Working with Frank Hampson" by Bruce Cornwell (one of the artists on 6 of the first 18 adventures, including with Don Harley on adventures 15-18, penned by Eric Eden). Dan, having been to Mercury, Venus, Mars-or-thereabouts and Saturn, and having already faced the Mekon twice, now faces him one mo' time again, but this time not on a planet but on Space Station XQY! Cue thrilling Saturday Morning Cinema Cliffhanger music. This tale introduced two new teenage sidekicks, Space Fleet cadets Steve Valiant, who wasn't greatly featured again, and 'Flamer' Spry, who was. Sir Tim makes a wise point about identifying with viewpoint characters from the point of view of the reader explaining the introduction of this pair. Of course, I've no objective opinion on these comics - although Eagle was 11 years old by the time I was born (and it must have been a couple of years before I actually started reading them), everyone in my household had read Eagle with Dan Dare and Look and Learn with The Trigan Empire and, more importantly, saved them for me to read once I'd got past the nappy-crapping stage. And while Eagle was all-over-bar-the-shouting by the time I was eight, that was plenty enough time to "imprint" Dan Dare on what passes for my brain. So I love this stuff. I think you should all read it and love it. So there. But if you're of a mind that this is somehow twee fifties shite, I'll understand if you don't take my recommendation.
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