Review of Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume One: 1: Voyage To Venus, 2: The Red Moon Mystery, and 3: Marooned On Mercury
Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume 1, 1: Voyage To Venus, 2: The Red Moon Mystery, and 3: Marooned On Mercury
Adapted from the Eagle comic strip; Performed by a full cast
3 Episodes – 3 hours, 9 minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Big Finish
Published: January 2017
Three audio adventures based on the Eagle comic strip “Dan Dare” created by Rev. Marcus Morris, adapted and drawn by Frank Hampson.
Brilliant test pilot, Dan Dare, is chosen to fly the Anastasia – a new experimental
spacecraft – on its maiden voyage to Venus. This isn’t exploration – it is to make first
contact with a mysterious civilisation that has sent technological secrets as a goodwill
gesture. However, what Dan, Digby and Professor Peabody find on Venus isn’t
goodwill, but a terrifyingly intelligent, cold-hearted ruler, the Mekon. A creature
destined to become Dan Dare’s nemesis – and Earth’s greatest threat…
Unable to return to Earth, Dan Dare and the crew of the Anastasia head to the
desolate planet Mars, where Dan’s estranged Uncle Ivor is part of a research team
working on a top-secret archaeological dig; but when they find the base wrecked and
the scientists missing, Dare, Digby and Professor Peabody soon discover that the Red
Planet is not nearly as dead as everyone thought and that Ivor’s expedition has
woken an army of deadly insect-creatures that threaten to swarm and engulf the
Earth… Dare must stop the aliens, but can he really resort to genocide in order to
save the human race?
When a distress call summons the crew of the Anastasia to the burning wilderness of
Mercury, they are reunited with their old ally, Sondar. He tells them of the
beleaguered Mercurians who are held in thrall to a cruel new taskmaster – the
Mekon! The exiled Mekon is rallying his forces, plotting a desperate revenge against
his former homeworld of Venus and his hated enemy, Colonel Dan Dare!
It had been quite some time since I’d heard much about Dan Dare, at least twenty or more years until the classic comic character’s adventures were rebooted by ace author Garth Ennis in 2009 for Dynamite Comics. I was glad to hear that B7 Media, those folks responsible for the terrific Blake’s 7 adventures from a few years back have revived the man with the iconic name: Dan Dare.
Taking advantage of the audio drama format, these three new Big Finish Dan Dare adventures are truly terrific entertainment. They’re modern boy’s own-style space adventures, a kind of unapologetically forthright solar space opera, and starring no less a figure than Britain’s most iconic test pilot turned space adventurer, Dan Dare. For those unfamiliar, Dan Dare is one of those lapping-over delights from the end of the British Empire days, an ever just so slightly alien import – like the Rupert Bear books, or Captain Britain, or even Judge Dredd – and as delightful as a tin full of Turkish delight!
It is hard for me to review audio drama the same way I review audiobooks. I listen to audio drama at night with my eyes closed just as I’m drifting off into Dreamland. This means if I want to review them, I must re-listen to the shows over and over in order to get all my facts straight (that I love to is a side benefit). I need to know exactly what’s in the show itself, and what I only dreamed was in the show. And in my nightly re-listening for two weeks, I must say that all three episodes are really terrific – professional – solid work – as good as you would want them to be. Even with three different writing teams for three episodes and the fact that the three shows are mapped to three storylines from the very inception of Dan Dare, there’s very little for me to complain about. If you pushed me, really pushed me for some hard critiques of the shows as a whole I could come up with a few pitiful ones. I’d say, maybe, that the actors for Digby and Dan have voices just a bit too similar to each other, that maybe the personality of Professor Peabody – going from a hard-ass corporate profiteer to a stalwart champion of the undertrodden is a bit quick. But I really cannot complain. I got two wonderful weeks of nightly entertainment from these three episodes; each combining some of the very best elements of some of my favourite adventures into three all new shows. I’m telling you, if you like stories like The Empire Strikes Back, or Metropolis, or DOOM, or Aliens you’ll certainly love these new Dan Dare adventures.
Now, twist my arm just a bit more and I’ll tell you a secret… oh yes, I loved the first and second episodes, but that third episode, with those wonderful sympathetic Mercurians… it is my favourite.
Some fun, fast facts comparing Dan Dare in 1950 and Dan Dare in 2017.
-In the original comic strip Digby was Dan’s batman (his gentleman’s gentleman), not so in 2017.
-In the 2017 audio drama, Dan Dare is a vlogger!
-In 2017, Dan Dare’s dad is in hospital, in what sounds like a coma, and he regularly visits him (as does Digby).
-Professor Peabody was a professor in 1950 and still is a professor in 2017.
-The 2017 Dan Dare is set in the 2040s, the 1950s Dan Dare was set in the 1990s.
-In the 1950 Dan Dare “Eagle” was the name of the magazine where Dan Dare appeared, in 2017 “Eagle” is the name of the corporation that built Dare’s spaceship.
-And, the 2017 Dan Dare uses the medium of audio drama (or radio drama) as part of the plot.
Here’s a video reviewing the history of Dan Dare:
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