(1950/2004 collection) Frank Hampson, Titan Books, £14.99, hrdbk, 96pp, ISBN 1-840-23644-2
"Voyage to Venus" is actually the originally untitled opening adventure for Dan Dare who started life in issue 1 of the comic Eagle on April 14th 1950. With Digby, Professor Peabody, Sir Hubert Guest and Hank and Pierre, Dan sets off to Venus to investigate the mysterious destruction of previous expeditions and to assess Venus's viability for growing food for the starving of the Earth. Here they encounter the deadly Mekon of Mekonta and the friendly Volstar of Theron and have thrilling adventures all over the place. Both Eagle and Dan have been iconic in British culture for decades, and not just among comics and SF fans. Eagle's original run lasted for 19 years, and Dare's tales of derring-do are among my own earliest comic memories (alongside Look & Learn's Don Lawrence createdTrigan Empire). This book collects the first forty two-page installments and the story will be concluded in the next volume, due out in August. The next story, "The Red Moon Mystery", is due in October. Dave (Watchmen, Give Me Liberty) Gibbons provides a lucid introduction that recalls a grey post-war Britain - which actually stretched to the late 60's in my memory when the world suddenly discovered colour - and Nick Jones pens a thorough essay of the 'genesis' of Dan Dare, detailing the creation of both Dan and Eagle. Hampson's art has become legendary and scientific advice is credited to Arthur C Clarke in the first tale. It's true that most of Hampson's Dan Dare has already been collected and reprinted many times, but it's nice to see the character still going strong and available for nostalgic parents to buy for their offspring.
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