The latest issue of the Dan Dare-inspired comics anthology Spaceship Away – Issue 54 – is on sale now, featuring a dramatic “Nick Hazard” cover both drawn and coloured by the legendary Ron Turner.
The striking image marks the debut of “Invaders from Time” in the quarterly SF magazine, a story written by Philip Harbottle, drawn by Ron Turner, first published in black and white by Harrier Comics in 1988, published by Martin Lock.
Nick Hazard is a cross between Dan Dare and Rick Random, his stories featuring art by Ron and scripting by Philip Harbottle). Classic John Russell Fearn stories are retold in these adventures, through the eyes of Nick Hazard, Interstellar Agent. By throwing him into the thick of the action, the title combined the inventive strengths of the original story — its “sense of wonder” — with a continuing hero. The result: entertaining adventure!
“Invaders from Time” is based on Fearn’s novel Lords of 9016, this episode of the story beginning an investigation into deadly, mysterious earthquakes wreaking havoc on the colony world of Mira III.
Despite Nick storming the cover, this latest issue of Spaceship Away, edited by Des Shaw, still leads, of course, with “Dan Dare”, a continuation of “The Voyage of Ankum” written by John Bailey, with art from an uncredited William Naylor, for a tale which finds Dan on a strange alien world and under attack, while in orbit, the Galactic Galleon is rendered inoperable by a strange force.
Two other adventure strips also feature: “The Comet’s Tale”, the first part of a colour version of a “Jeff Hawke” by Sydney Jordan, first published in the Daily Express in 1973, and “Target Earth” written by John Richards with art by Harry Winslade, presumably first published in one of the iterations of Express Weekly, a title published between 1954 and 1962 under a progression of titles, ultimately merged with TV Comic.
I have to say I’m rather unconvinced by colour work on the “Jeff Hawke” strips, which have been collected previously in black and white, most recently by the Jeff Hawke Club, and in Italy, too. I’m guessing the material was originally published in colour on the continent somewhere, and has been re-lettered in English for this reprint.
There’s a couple of pages of humour strips, too – a page of black and white Dan Dare-inspired strips from reader Chris Hall, and the continuing tale, “Earthward Bound”, which is beautifully drawn, but uncredited.
This issues features are “Dan Dare in Motion”, an interesting feature by Andrew Darlington, largely focused on the animated Dan Dare series, which includes an episode guide; and the regular “Space News” column from the knowledgeable Ray Wright, who also provides a fascinating article on his own, ongoing efforts to develop a reusable single stage space plane, right here in Britain.
Ray in particular highlights the increasing danger of space collisions in “Space News”, an increasing worry as various companies launch “nets” of mini satellites to provide space-based internet connections. These projects that have met with widespread concern, not least because of the satellites impact on ground-based astronomy.
Finally, there’s the added treat of the inclusion of a cutaway of a Crypt Interstellar Craft, first seen in the Dan Dare story “The Man from Nowhere”, illustrated by Graham Bleathman, and an odd but intriguing Dan Dare-inspired back cover artwork from the late Don Harley.
A fantastic piece of detective work about the comic creator, whose credits also included illustrations for the Eagle, “The Brainy B’s” for Zip and the “Battle Brothers” for Express Weekly, as well as working on various boys and girls titles for DC Thomson