Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dan Dare Omnibus

Garth Ennis is a man of his principles. He doesn't seem to be a big fan of government, but he loves the soldiers that make that government run. That's true in his WWII War Stories and it is true in this sci-fi tale of alien invasion. I haven't had any exposure to Dan Dare before this hardcover, but I found myself really enjoying it.

Britain is the last super-power on Earth and Dan Dare is in well-deserved retirement. Dare spends his days wandering around a holographic world of old England when he's called back into service to battle his old foe the Mekon. I guess these guys have a long history, with the Mekon leading an alien race into attacking Earth, only to be repelled by Dare. There's a great line in this collection about how the Mekon's major motivation for everything he does now is to humiliate and defeat Dan Dare "the man who taught me to hate."

The story is made in the smaller moments, not in the overall story. Dan Dare's former teammate taking over the government in small doses is entertaining and shows off the "waiting" part of war nicely. I love how Britain's space fleet still feels like a Navy. The company of marines that follows Dare around on a few harrowing missions were tremendous. The squad leader even claims to have had worse down at the pub when his arm is ripped off!

And Ennis nails the cost of war as he always does, with Dare's new protege having to go up against overwhelming odds to give the mission a chance of success. This holds up nicely against Ennis' other war stories, and I recommend it. It's refreshing seeing he still tells riveting stories in addition to the fairly offensive stuff in The Boys and Herogasm.

Gary Erskine makes space ships and armored suits look mundane. And that's a compliment. The sci-fi elements look functional and working, nothing too sleek or crazy. The personal elements of this story would only work with grounded art, and Erskine delivers.


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