We all of us, Dan Dare fans, think and talk of The Menace from Jupiter as the last story in the saga, omega to The Venus Story‘s alpha, but as I’ve mentioned in passing before, really it’s not.
Prisoners of Space was re-printed, I was properly introduced to Hank and Pierre and Flamer, though the serial was messed around, reformatted, reduced inside to be spread across about two-thirds of the centre spread. And when it finished, there was another new story.
Underwater Attack has never, to my knowledge, been reprinted, nor has there been the remotest enthusiasm for its reprint, nor any notion of incorporation within the Dan Dare legend. I’m not even going to really write about it now. All I know is that it lasted only four weeks – the same length as a story from an Eagle annual – and was drawn by Eric Kincaid, who was an Eagle veteran having, for years, drawn the Roving Reporter page.
All I remember is that it began with Dan and Digby on leave, diving in somewhere like the Mediterranean, when they encountered a party of what seemed to be aliens, green-skinned, goggle-eyed, grill-mouthed. Fearing an alien invasion, Dan and Dig snooped on these creatures, fund and got captured and taken into their base, where they proved to be a Government experiment into new undersea suits. Ho hum.
That was the real end and, just as we traditionally think of the classic Being There as being Peter Sellars’ last film because we cannot bear to recall the horrendous piece of imbecile shit that actually was the last thing he worked on, so do we omit Underwater Attack from our consideration.
Yet though the true canon came to an end in the late Sixties, there have been numerous stories since. For the most part, whether it be 2000 A.D. or the New Eagle, I don’t count these. Irrespective of any real qualities they may possess as stories, they are not Dan Dare as I recognise him.
But there are a handful of stories that aim to contribute to the Dan Dare legend, and which are of a sufficiently high quality – or, better yet, fidelity – that they deserve consideration. For the most part, they are the work of the fans, and not the professionals, although a couple of those stories which ran in Spaceship Away gloss over that seeming boundary as we shall see.
So I’m going to extend this series a little longer, to pay tribute to the works that stretch the boundaries of the mythos and give the long-term readers like myself what we have always longed for: More.
First up, however, is not an actual story, but it is an absolutely fascinating publication that demonstrates a tremendous imagination, applied to the notion of drawing all the stories together into a consistent continuity.