The Grant Morrison Dan Dare.

Grant Morrison Despite the title, Grant Morrison was not the artist for this story - that was Rian Hughes - but instead was the author. It is also a considerable oddity. Although it uses Dan Dare and many related characters, its purpose is almost entirely political. Dan Dare was picked since he was a symbol of British 1950s integrity, and one that in today's [or the late '80s] is now irrelevant - or seems to be [Dan wins through ultimately, in a rather kamikaze fashion].

For the point of the story was to take an archetypal British hero; one from the 50s, when all seemed safe for the world if it were in British hands, and then to show how this decency can be corrupted. It is a powerful story, a convincing story; full of dark paranoia and fallacious political prediction. I am going to look at it from two viewpoints - as a story, and as a message

The message.

This is 90s Britain shown through the eyes of the intellectually dispossessed: throughout the 60s and 70s - and even the 50s - there was a broad political consensus as to the "liberal", One Nation approach. Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Government of 1979 shattered that consensus, and she became demonised, anathema, to the ranks of the radical left wing. The Gloria Munday figure is very obviously Thatcher [and gloria mundi in latin = glory of the world]. She is portrayed as totally unprincipled, lusting only for power, wielding the full apparatus of the State [a role occupied post war by the "socialist" governments of the Iron Curtain], and willing to ally herself with anyone [in this case, the Mekon] to retain power, and sacrificing millions of Britain's citizens to that aim. [And even in the 1997 election the "Independent" newspaper can talk of "18 brutal years".] But the author gives away his own preoccupations in a very Freudian way - people are being processed in "manna" - but what weird properties this substance has! From the last episode :

dan [to gloria mundi]: For God's sake this is the Mekon! It's like making a deal with the devil! Don't you realise what you've done? Why?

gloria: Oh Dan, isn't it obvious, even to you? We did it for power. Politics is about power and the more powerful one becomes the more one's aesthetic of power becomes - refined, shall we say? The more its pursuit becomes an end in itself.

mekon : I don't expect you to understand. Your kind always die asking the same question - why, oh why? You labour under the naive misapprehension that the universe shares your parochial notions of fair play and justice. Let me tell you about manna, Colonel Dare. In addition to its undeniable versitility as a food substitute, it also has certain other qualities which are beginning to come apparent as more of your people become addicted to it. Euphoric qualities. Aphrodisiac qualities. And very shortly there will be mass copulatios in the streets. One final orgy of ecstasy as my final gift to mankind. And then manna will begin its real work, on the unborn. They will enter the world blind and shapeless and hungry. And then they will grow. Your children are my children now. 'For he on honey-dew hath fed, and drunk the milk of Paradise.' But enough of your grating poetry. Hold him down.

dan : Nngh! Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!

mekon : Think of England, Colonel Dare. It's more than England ever did for you.

Powerful enough stuff! But political criticism? It's difficult to know where to begin.

To the story ...

Fireside Prof. Peabody has been found dead - suicide - and the message has just reached Dan in a letter. He is retired, in pain from an old injury, taking painkillers and whiskey. The future is empty, there are only memories ...

Digby Then the funeral, with the rain pouring down. Dan sees Digby ... but is rejected. But Sir Hubert makes up for this snub by introducing Dan to Gloria Munday, the Prime Minister. She asks him to help with her election campaign, and Dan, struggling to write his memoirs, capitulates.

SF HQ Dan is taken to be photographed in heroic poses for the campaign. They pass over a privatised SFHQ .... [and the frame would have more point if BT, British Steel, British Rail had been reduced to this state by privatisation. But they haven't. Who today would want the nationalised industries back?]

Anastasia And for old times sake, Dan asks if he can go aboard Anastasia, now a Science Museum exhibit. The attendant Minister cannot see any harm in the request ...

Gotcha But Dan also goes North to meet Digby, who shows him the dire straits to which this part of the country has been reduced, and who takes him to Prof's old house. They find a hidden video, where Prof reveals the secret of "manna", a food substitute being provided by the Government. But they are raided, and in the fight Digby is killed. But Dan escapes. He tries to take the video to TV stations, to newspapers, but they are not interested. In the final touch of paranoia, he discovers, when he takes it to be copied, that the TV studio wiped the tape .... He goes home - and remembers some of his exploits from the past ... some of which, he now realises, were less than honourable. And this scene is when Dan was injured, and is a none too subtle reference to the Falklands War.

Mekon Betrayed by Sir Hubert [and there is a hint his grand daughter is being held hostage], Dan is taken to 10 Downing Street on the night of the election. There he discovers the Mekon, with whom Gloria Munday is in league. There all is revealed to him, in the dialogue above. Dan wanders off, to be picked up by the police. His diary is being checked when the Minister comes across the crucial passage ... there is a fusion bomb on board Anastasia, timed to go off at midday ... and the last frame disappears in whiteness ....

The story is not concerned with Dan as a character, but as a symbol : a symbol of 1950s rectitude and honour; how it may be deceived; but not, in the end, corrupted.