Follow TV Tropes


Comic Strip / Dan Dare

Go To
"Kingfisher's ready to go, Sir Hubert."
The first lines spoken by Dan Dare in the first issue of the Eagle.

Classic British science fiction comic strip, created by Frank Hampson in the Eagle comic in 1950. Colonel Dan Dare of the Interplanet Space Fleet and his band of companions would explore other planets and defend the Earth from a variety of colourful alien threats, including arch-enemy the Mekon. The strip was known for the high quality of its artwork and its long, complex storylines, which could run for over a year of weekly two-page episodes.

The original strip ran from 1950 to 1965, with a number of format changes and a general decline in quality in the last few years. It has been revived several times, often with wildly different versions of the character: in 2000 AD (1977-1979), in the New Eagle (1982-early 1990s, featuring a descendant of the original Dan), an especially cynical miniseries in the pages of Revolver written by Grant Morrison (1990-1991), and a limited series written by Garth Ennis (2007-2008).

Oh, and Elton John wrote a song about him. Give a listen! It's cool.


  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The first story was set in the then-distant 1990s.
  • Ace Pilot: Dan.
  • Aerial Canyon Chase: Subverted during the 'All Treens Must Die' storyline. After being released from his imprisonment for genocide as Earth, now with its defences offline, came under a surprise assault from the Mekon's invasion force, in a last, desperate bid to do something, Dan and his crew were bunged into the Anastasia and told to do whatever they could. When one enemy fighter launched a missile on their tail, Dan tried to use the local canyon to escape it. Unfortunately, the missile was just as good, and his attempts to get back out of the canyon were thwarted by fighter wings at a higher altitude keeping them pinned down. With a mountain looming up ahead, Dan tried pulling straight up anyway, noted the missile was still unfazed, and just turned to his crew and apologised. Annie promptly took the missile up the tailpipe.
  • Agri World: The first storyline is about a mission to turn Venus into one of these to provide food for an overcrowded Earth.
  • Animated Adaptation: There was a CGI Dan Dare cartoon at the Turn of the Millennium.
  • Artistic License – Space: The strip made some effort to get the science right, but there were some creative liberties, such as spacesuits hanging and folding in a way that looks like they are not pressurized (because they were drawn from real-life models wearing overalls), and spaceships manouevring like aeroplanes.
  • As You Know: Lampshaded in an early strip:
    Dan: The impulse waves are broadcast into space from stations on the Earth, Moon and Mars, picked up by the ships and stored in Impulse Cylinders like a battery stores electricity. Then the waves are fed to the engines as required - it saves carrying tons of fuel - right?
    Hubert: Yes Dan and C-A-T spells cat. What's the point of this elementary lesson?
  • Bad Boss: In the Ennis' miniseries, Mekon executes an underling for questioning his orders; THEN he executes some more of his underlings for unquestioningly following his orders which resulted in Dare and his men escaping. Pick your poison, huh?
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Dan Dare is as generous, kind and loyal a man as you could ever want to meet. Give him a reason to show you how good he is with his fists, though, and he will very happily oblige.
  • Black Hole: The centerpiece of the returned Treen and the Mekon's Evil Plan involved one, towed by the Treen fleet from beyond the solar system. At the climax, the mortally-wounded Mekon and the quisling Prime Minister of Britain ends up falling into it due to the latter's foolishness while piloting their escape shuttle.
  • Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: One of the most bona fide, straight examples you'll ever find, and we love him for it. Later iterations end up being deconstructions, though.
  • Cliffhanger: Every episode. Sometimes involving actual cliffs.
  • Contrived Coincidence: On a Martian holiday, Dan pats a visit to his archaeologist Uncle Ivor, who explains that he's recently discovered that Martian civilisation was destroyed by something called the Red Moon. As Dan leaves he gets a message from Sir Hubert: A mysterious object from space has turned up, and could Dan investigate? The papers are calling it the Red Moon...
  • Cool Chair: The Mekon sits on a hovering chair. In some stories it also has defensive shields or other gadgets.
  • Cool Old Lady: Aunt Anastasia. Her Moment of Awesome came when she noticed a hidden distress message in a communication from Digby. She immediately headed to Spacefleet HQ, pushed past all the guards, barged into the Acting Controller's office and demanded that he listen. This ended with a commando raid on the visiting Treen ships while she sat quietly in the office with a cup of tea.
  • Cool Starship: The Anastasia, a unique combination of human and alien technology.
  • Colonel Badass: Colonel Dan Dare.
  • Creator Cameo: Several characters were drawn to resemble members of Hampson's team: Gretchen Franklin as Peabody, Eric Eden as O'Malley and Hampson himself as Deputy-Controller O'Brien. Also, Desmond Walduck, who drew Prisoners of Space, added himself to the last installment as a press photographer.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Discussed in "Voyage To Venus", after the Treen are defeated, the people of Earth state their conditions, such as total disarmament (an agreement shared among all parties), and an end to the enslavement of Atlantines. Things such as Food are only done at request, and only if the Treen are willing to provide. When the Treen question why Earth, as the conquerors, not just take the resources, Dan explains that Earth has learnt from its own history that to do so, and become an occupying force, would only breed resentment and lead to future conflicts.
  • Dead All Along: This made for a rather anticlimactic ending to Dan's search for his missing father.
  • Dismotivation: Digby has no qualifications as a pilot, but is actually better at it than half the fleet. He keeps quiet about it because he's worried that he'll get a commission if anyone finds out.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Dare was sometimes seen smoking a pipe, perhaps as a Shout-Out to the pipe-smoking RAF officers of the Second World War on whom the character was based.
  • Downer Ending: Dare, Grant Morrison's miniseries from the early 1990s, warps the original, idealistic Dan Dare vision of the 1990s into a satire of the real 1990s bequeathed to Britain by the Thatcher government. An injured Dan Dare comes out of retirement to investigate a conspiracy that's already claimed Peabody's life and goes on to claim Digby's. In the final chapter it's revealed that the British government has sold out to the Mekon. The story ends with Dare setting off a nuclear explosion that wipes out the Mekon, the corrupt government, and himself, along with an unspecified but no doubt large number of innocent bystanders — with the possibility left open that it may already be too late to prevent the horrors of the Mekon's plot running its course.
  • Fake Defector: For some reason, Dan's general disapproval of lying doesn't extend to opposing this, and he fully supports Steve Valiant and Digby on the separate occasions when they pull this trick on the Mekon.
  • Fashions Never Change: A lot of the main cast wear military uniforms, but everyone else dresses like it's the 1950s.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Gradually introduced during the initial run. The first few stories are set in our solar system. The first faster-than-light trip turns out to be a slower-than-light ship that put the crew into suspended animation for most of the voyage. The development of real FTL travel was a plot point in a later story, and it eventually became commonplace.
  • Fat and Skinny: In the short Eagle Annual stories, Dan often found himself up against a skinny/fat pair of crooks called Starbuck and Vulcani (who appeared to have wandered in off the set of fellow Eagle strip PC49).
  • A Father to His Men: Sir Hubert, as Dan explicitly pointed out to some politicians who wanted to destroy a space station he was on at the time. Dan himself was more of a Brother to his Men.
  • Fighting Irish: Dan sometimes had to hold back Lex O'Malley, who was a little too eager to get busy with his fists. Lex had the nose of a man who'd been in a few scraps.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Jumping Jets!
  • Heavyworlder:
    • The gravity on Venus is approximately 90% of that on Earth, giving every human a small degree of superstrength while on the planet. They're not Kryptonians, but it does give them a bit of an edge.
    • When one of the Verans from Jupiter visited Earth, he fell over and needed an industrial crane to right himself.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Dan fairly often persuaded a member of a villain race to change sides, the prime example being Sondar.
  • Heroic Lineage: The Dan who appeared in the 1980s strips was a great-grandson of the Dan from the 1950s strips.
  • Honor Before Reason: Dan has a rigid code of honour that the Mekon tries to exploit.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: The story 'The Red Moon Mystery' featured "space bees" that would strip planets of organic life.
  • I Gave My Word: Dan's word is his bond, although the strip is honest about how circumstances beyond his control can lead him to be unable to keep it.
  • In Name Only:
    • It can be argued that the 2008 Virgin Comics mini-series changes the setting, characters and technology so much that it is unrecognizable from the classic original series it supposedly follows. Of particular offense is a scene which suggests the original strip was dumbed-down stories for children. Fridge Brilliance or Take That!? Take your pick.
    • Let's not forget the 2000 AD stories. Dan was far more of a gung-ho bruiser who'd prefer to kill then talk things out.
    • The New Eagle strips were about a completely different character with the same name, albeit a descendant of the original. That said, he was more like his ancestor than the original Dan in his later appearances.
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: Every planet to have invented space travel has also invented a space helmet with a completely transparent visor.
  • Interplanetary Voyage: In the first few years the stories were set entirely in the solar system.
  • Ironic Echo: In the 2008 mini-series: "You were asking about Digby". To clarify: Digby is killed during a battle against the Mekon's forces. When Dan Dare is seemingly captured and brought before the Mekon, the Mekon mockingly asks him "No Digby?" Then, in the final battle, the Mekon ends up powerless and prone before Dare, who provides the Ironic Echo before a well-deserved stabbing.
  • I Want My Jetpack: The strip's 1990s have hotels on Mars and everyday gadgets including personal helicopter backpacks.
  • Joker Immunity: The Mekon almost always gets away. On the rare occasions he doesn't, the heroes capture him and put him in prison, from which he eventually escapes. Averted in the case of every other villain, who tend to be around for one story and die at the end of it.
  • Little Green Men: Played straight by the Mekon, but the Treens otherwise avert this trope, as the rest are average human height.
  • Man-Eating Plant: The Saturnian moon Phoebe is loaded with these.
  • Martial Pacifist: As shown in "Voyage To Venus", While Dan shall battle if he has to, he shall only do so when he has exhausted all other peaceful options; trying multiple times to make friends first and be as cordial as possible. He'll use Ju Jitsu if he has to, but he would rather have it so every one gets along with each other.
  • My Brain Is Big: The Mekon.
  • Nephewism: Digby was raised by his Aunt Anastasia. Similarly, the only member of Dan's family we meet is Uncle Ivor.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Digby is no genius, but neither is he the idiot he allows the villains to think he is.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Pretty much everyone, but especially Dan.
  • Old-School Dogfight: Space battles are depected a lot like World War II air combat.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Prof. Peabody is an expert in whatever science the story requires.
  • Oop North: Digby hails from Wigan in Lancashire and is vocally proud of the fact. Dan is also Lancatrian - he was born in Manchester - but he leaves the Northern pride to Digby.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Given that Garth Ennis isn't Warren Ellis, he was unable to fill the 2008 limited series with scads of Technology Porn. Instead, he focused on what he is good at - characterization, particularly that of the half-broken yet unrepentantly idealistic Dare.
    Prime Minister: He has all this wonderful memorabilia, it really is quite charming... What I can't understand is why he said yes so readily; he quite obviously despises all that I stand for, but there he is, off to fight for king and country...
    Jocelyn Peabody: I imagine he considers it his duty... Dan was dedicated to the International Space Fleet. He saw it as everything that was best about us: Mankind United, no more wars on Earth. But when all's said and done, he's still an Englishman. When his country's threatened, he'll answer the call.
  • Pseudo-Crisis: With a cliffhanger every two pages, some of them are bound to be less than essential to the plot.
  • The Quisling: The tertiary villains in Operation Saturn are the Rootha, the native aristocracy of Saturnia who serve the real ruler, Vora, who was of interstellar origin. The secondary villain is the human Blasco, who plots to similarly serve as Vora's Quisling emperor on Earth. (The primary villain is, of course, Vora himself).
  • Raygun Gothic: A late and relatively realistic instance of the aesthetic.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Mekon's race, Treens, are reptilian humanoids.
  • Schematized Prop: The strip would sometimes include cutaway technical drawings of the spaceships and other tech.
  • Seadog Beard: Lex O'Malley certainly has one.
  • Shiny-Looking Spaceships: The ships weren't usually shiny as such, but were almost always brightly coloured (The spaceship interiors, on the other hand, were often cramped and utilitarian).
  • Sidekick: Albert Fitzwilliam Digby.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Prof. Peabody is pretty much the only female character.
  • Space Clothes: Averted in the case of humans, who wear 1950s clothes even while walking around their futuristic cities. The aliens wear classic Space Clothes, though.
  • The Spock: Sondar, whose species (Treens) have suppresed all emotion.
  • Spock Speak: Sondar.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: A subtle but potent examination thereof; The Mekon has found that having an entire civilization of sycophants at his beck and call has resulted in this. Dare once escaped from the Mekon's flagship via the open hangar because the deckmaster didn't shut the door - because he had no orders to do so. The same flagship is hit amidships despite the Mekon's orders to turn about... because the captain is so focused on his earlier orders to "attack the enemy" the Mekon is unable to convey that Dare actually intends to ram them. Both times the Mekon summarily executes the minions involved, but it's pretty obvious the Treens' lack of initiative is entirely his design; He's summarily punished rebellion so many times that the average Treen has all the ambition of a tree slug.
  • Take a Third Option: A pivotal moment in Marooned on Mercury: The Mekon has created a super weapon called Panthanaton, and plans to wipe out all life on Earth and Venus with it, but he needs a human pilot and wants to force Dan to do it. Consequently, he captures Dan's friends and tells Dan that he can either agree to the mission or watch as the chamber his friends are in is filled with Panthanaton. Escaping is not an option. Dan decides to punch out the Mekon's guard and run. Escaping might not be an option, but seizing a container of Panthanaton and threatening to smash it is.
  • Teleportation: The telesender (which needed a machine at both ends).
  • The Swarm: The Red Moon turns out to be the home of nothing more than some bee-like insects that can swarm on a planet and strip it of all its vegetation.
  • Those Two Guys: Hank and Pierre.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Digby is something of a tea addict.
  • Transplanted Humans: The Atlantines turn out to be the descendants of humans kidnapped from Earth by the Treens twenty thousand years ago.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Space-Fleet pistols fired non-lethal, paralysing gas, and Dan was always keen to find non-violent solutions to conflicts, although he was willing to kill when he absolutely had to. Thrown out the window in the Ennis series, where the Royal Navy (who have taken over Space-Fleet's duties) pack futuristic assault rifles, and Dan apparently lethally wounds the Mekon in their climactic battle with what looks like a katana.
  • True Companions: The regular cast changed with each story, but the members would always be unfailingly loyal to one another.
  • Unusual Eyebrows: Dan's eyebrows have distinctive flourishes on the outer ends. They help his friends recognise him when he's in disguise, but fortunately his enemies never pick up on them.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Part of Dan's rigid (even by 1950s standards) code of honour. Some other characters are more flexible.
  • Zeerust: Stuff like the smoking and the clothing styles do date the original comics rather.


Video Example(s):



Discovered on the asteroid remains of a destroyed planet, and named Helios by the warlord Ares, this ancient, deadly, weapon was used to keep his prisoners in line by threatening their homes, and destroying them should they dare defy him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / LostSuperweapon

Media sources: