In Review: The Dan Dare Audio Adventures – Marooned on Mercury

Dan Dare Audio Adventures - Marooned on Mercury Poster
Dan Dare Audio Adventures – Marooned on Mercury Poster by Brian Williamson

A B7 Production in association with Big Finish
Distributed by Big Finish
Directed By: Andrew Mark Sewell

• Listen to the trailer

Main Cast: Ed Stoppard (Dan Dare), Geoff McGivern (Digby), Heida Reed (Professor Peabody), Michael Cochrane (Sir Hubert Guest), Raad Rawi (The Mekon)

Associate Producer Fiona McAlpine
Development Producer Patrick Chapman
Series Script Editor Colin Brake
Executive Producer Simon Moorhead

Producer/Director Andrew Mark Sewell
Executive Producers for Big Finish Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery

The Audio: Three audio adventures based on the Eagle comic strip “Dan Dare” created by Rev. Marcus Morris, written and drawn by Frank Hampson

Brian Williamson's preliminary sketch for the Dan Dare Audio Adventures poster "Marooned on Mercury"
Brian Williamson’s preliminary sketch for the Dan Dare Audio Adventures poster “Marooned on Mercury”

Episode 3: Marooned on Mercury by Marc Platt

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!

Raad Rawi - The Mekon
Raad Rawi, who has made the part of the Mekon his own

The Review: The Mekon is back! Back when I used to read Eagle comic in the 1980s, the editorial team wisely alternated Mekon stories with non-Mekon adventures so as not to over-use the character. But good though the other stories were, it was always more exciting when the Mekon was involved.

Sure enough, the return of Dan’s villainous green nemesis results in a story that is exciting, dramatic and epic in scale. The Mekon’s evil plan is a big one this time and his plans are as immoral and ambitious as those of a James Bond villain.

I’d looked forward to this third and final tale in the first set of Dan Dare audio stories, as it has been written by popular Doctor Who scribe Marc Platt, who wrote 1989’s classic Sylvester McCoy adventure, Ghost Light. And this story does have a Doctor Who-ish feel to it with its scary villains, dark and foreboding music and lots of science fiction action.

There’s an overall slickness to this third offering in the six-episode series too, with the now-established main cast settled into their roles, with confident direction from Andrew Mark Sewell who manages to maintain a rattling pace to the story whilst still giving the characters space to develop.

The regulars are on top form as always and the guest cast all manage to deliver the goods. As the Mekon, Raad Rawi is evil personified and in many ways reminds me of Michael Wisher’s portrayal of the original Davros in Doctor Who. Bijan Daneshmand portrays Sondar as intelligent, noble and dignified and Nicholas Briggs (well known for playing the voice of the Daleks in both televised and audio Doctor Who) is wonderfully Machiavellian as Garlok.

And as if all of that isn’t enough, the story ends on a quite brilliant cliffhanger. I can’t wait to listen to the next set of CDs next year.

In all honestly, I really only purchased these CDs out of loyalty to the character and to support the Dan Dare brand. However, I’ve been delighted to discover that they have managed to be both innovative and traditional as well as extremely exciting. And there have been some nice running themes too, such as Dan’s relationship with his father. Personally, I felt it was financially risky to do a series of audios about a character who is not as well known to the British public as other sci-fi legends such as Doctor Who, but these stories have been terrific and I really hope that the risk pays off and they manage to find an appreciative audience.

The Dan Dare character is one that refuses to die and the baton has been passed on over the years with Dan appearing in various incarnations in comics, on TV and on audio. It is nice to know that the team behind these stories have picked up that baton and well and truly run with it. B7 Media have managed to creative something which is both recognizable but is also in tune with modern sensibilities.

Ten spaceships out of ten for this stunning series finale.

Offered as both digital downloads and a box set, this has been a great trio of stories, and for your money, you also get a bonus disc of Imran Ahmad’s excellent music.

Ian Wheeler

• Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures Volume One featuring “Voyage to Venus”, “The Red Moon Mystery” and “Marooned on Mercury” is exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until 31st January 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date

Read Ian’s Review of Voyage to Venus

• Read Ian Wheeler’s review of The Red Moon Mystery

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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