Tag Archives: rian hughes

Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes’ ‘Dare’ Does Space Hero Satire Better than ‘Strange Adventures’

While I was reading Strange Adventures #1, or Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Evan Shaner’s latest comic on King’s military service and his regrets and feelings about working for the CIA as well as how much he loves his wife starring a DC Comics B-list character, I had the sneaking suspicion I’d read a better version of this comic. That comic was Dare: The Controversial Memoir of Dan Dare by Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes that was serialized in the UK comics magazines Revolver and Crisis in 1990-1991 before being reprinted by both FantagraphicsMonster Comics imprint and Image Comics.

Before going into the whole anything Tom King/Scott Snyder/Geoff Johns has done, a British Invasion writer like Alan Moore or Grant Morrison has done better (And decades before.), I’ll look at the surface similarities between Strange Adventures and Dare. Created in 1958 and 1950 respectively, Adam Strange and Dan Dare have the same Space Age DNA and were influenced by previous sci-fi action heroes, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. In his early stories, Adam Strange was accidentally transported from an archaeology dig to the planet Rann where he protected the planet from invaders and fell in love with their princess, Alanna. Dan Dare’s stories were set in the “future” of the 1990s, and he was a pilot in the Interplanet Space Fleet, who explored other planets and protected Earth from the invasions of the villainous Treen.

Strange Adventures #1

Strange Adventures and Dare show both Adam Strange and Dan Dare as way past their prime with Dare having a little more satirical bite. The framing narrative of Strange Adventures is Adam Strange going on a book tour where he gets asked questions some friendly, some antagonistic about his actions in Rann, and this ramps up when one of his critics is found with a laser blast in his head. In Dare, Dan Dare is disabled, living off a military pension, and struggling writing his memoirs when Gloria Monday (A stand-in for Margaret Thatcher.) asks him to be the symbol of her re-election campaign even as he begins to find out that her government may have been responsible for the death of his old ally, Dr. Jocelyn Peabody.

Strange Adventures and Dare use the Pykkt Empire (Created for the series) and the Treen respectively as stand-in’s for the “other”. Strange Adventures seems to be using the Pykkt as a commentary on American interventionism in the Middle East (Which is where Tom King served.) with Shaner staging the Adam Strange flashbacks on a desert planet with him fighting a solider with a head and face covering. Dare uses the Treen as a general metaphor for the rebirth of British imperialism, but especially the Falklands War with Hughes’ clever parodies of the Sun‘s violent, xenophobic headlines and the connection between that war and Gloria Monday, er, Margaret Thatcher’s reelection in 1983.

Dan Dare

I will throw up a quick disclaimer that Dare is a completed work while Strange Adventures has eleven more issues to tell its story. However, Dare is the stronger work of satire while King seems to be too close to the material he’s writing about to go from his personal experience to something more universal other than a fairly banal “Who is telling the truth?” Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes introducing Dan Dare as a pathetic figure drinking and popping painkillers in front of his fireplace looking more like Morrissey than a “boy’s own comic” hero, who can’t even write his memoirs properly. This desperation and need for money is why he basically sells his soul to the devil and lets Monday use his image for her reelection campaign in the midst of strikes and food shortages that were the reality in the U.K. when Thatcher was prime minister and have not gone away even with fancy things like interplanetary space travel.

In all aspects, Dare is an excellent work of social commentary that uses the iconic British comic strip character to skewer imperialism, racism, and Tory/Conservative policies that have persisted to 2020 with the government of Boris Johnson in the U.K. and Donald Trump in the United States. Towards the end of the second issue, Morrison and Hughes have Dare’s old batman (A military officer’s personal servant aka hooray for class tension.) , Digby with which he has a strained relationship, confront him for killing Treen children in his last space battle. Instead of making Dare contrite or remorseful, he is portrayed as defensive while still having the good point that Digby watched him gun down the Treen children when they revolted after being treated by both their own leader, Mekon, and Earth as a slave labor force. Dare’s disability, his addictions, and money issues make him a sympathetic figure, but Morrison and Hughes aren’t afraid to call him out on his actions and make a character created to inspire young boys to serve God and the British Empire look weak and morally compromised.

On the other hand, Strange Adventures #1 seems less concerned with broader social commentary and more about Tom King using yet another DC character to deal with how he personally feels about being in the CIA, albeit, with better visuals and less line-wide impact than Heroes in Crisis. The dialogue that Strange uses is telling as he implores Batman to “show them I’m innocent” in a dark-draped panel drawn by Mitch Gerads. Unlike Dare, which casts a skeptical eye on British pop iconography, and by extension, politics and foreign policy, Strange Adventures is about vindication.

Adam Strange has to be the exposition spouting hero drawn in a clean pulp style by Evan Shaner, and this tension between him and Mr. Terrific’s investigation looks like the driving force behind the series. He has to be the hero and have the big redeeming moment while Dare is impotent, can barely walk, and his imagery is used to uphold a government that is okay with turning “undesirable” humans into food called Manna in cahoots with the Treen leader, Mekon, that Dare fought so many years ago. For now, King seems content with self-involvement via superheroes instead of looking at larger systems of control like Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes did in Dare.

Dare ends with a bomb that Dare set in his old spaceship, Anastasia, going off and wiping out London, including Mekon, who was there celebrating Gloria Monday’s election as well as the protagonist himself before cutting to a blank drawing board in almost a similar manner to the way the ending of Animal Man showed Grant Morrison meeting his creation. It’s a stark, six panel reminder that Dan Dare’s creator, Frank Hampson, signed away the rights to his creation just like Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster did with Superman under predatory, work for hire contract.

Dare may have been a cheerful, heroic figure, but his creator, Hampson, did not reap a financial reward commensurate with his fame. Morrison and Hughes are using an iconic British character to basically flip off the comics establishment a couple years before the founding of Image Comics in a kind of metafiction and create a revolutionary story. It is highly unlikely that King, Gerads, and Shaner will do that to DC Comics/Warner Bros/A T and T, and at its best, Strange Adventures will be an attempt at pastiche and a dark deconstruction of a Silver Age space hero.

And the fact that Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes use an iconic figure in British pop culture instead of a character that rarely has his own title to tell their story of heroism being used to serve the predatory establishment instead of fighting for truth, justice, and all that stuff makes Dare a stronger story than Strange Adventures. This is despite the comic not being as well-known as Grant Morrison’s other work during that time period, including Zenith, Arkham Asylum, Animal Man, and Doom Patrol. And along with being a compelling work of satire, Dare has some wonderful flourishes like Rian Hughes’ brutalist approach to future architecture and world-building with a character remarking that Art Deco didn’t leave much room for places to live and shop and a cheeky sense of deadpan humor. (See any photoshoot scene featuring Dan Dare.)

If you’re looking for a story where so-called paragons of heroism are powerless to shake the bonds of systems of control, then Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes’ Dare is a comic worth reading. Instead of gazing at its own navel (Albeit in a visually interesting way by Mitch Gerads and Evan Shaner) like Strange Adventures, Dare offers up a portrait of a society crumbling due to conservative social policies and choosing power over decency through the lens of a spaceman’s salad days.

Preview: Blade Runner 2019 #6

Blade Runner 2019 #6

Author(s): Michael Green, Mike Johnson
Artist(s): Andres Guinaldo
Cover Artist(s): Rian Hughes (CVR A), Syd Mead (CVR B), Andres Guinaldo (CVR C)

Michael Green, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter for Blade Runner 2049, and co-writer Mike Johnson (Star Trek, Supergirl) begin a new story in the smash hit sci-fi comic set in the iconic world of Blade Runner! Seven years after her disastrous last case, veteran Blade Runner Ash is low on cash and short on options… Illustrated by Andres Guinaldo (Justice League Dark, Captain America).

Blade Runner 2019 #6

Preview: Rivers Of London: The Fey And The Furious #3

Rivers Of London: The Fey And The Furious #3

Author(s): Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel
Artist(s): Lee Sullivan
Cover Artist(s): Rian Hughes

Written by series creator, Ben Aaronovitch, the latest arc from the award-winning urban fantasy series Rivers of London reaches its thrilling conclusion as Detective Peter Grant races towards reality after finding himself trapped in a dangerous fairyland. With a nefarious trade dealer to catch and a furious Fairy Queen hot on his tail, can Peter make it to the finish line?A canonical story, set after bestselling novel Lies Sleeping!

Rivers Of London The Fey And The Furious #3

Matt Fraction, Elsa Charretier, Matt Hollingsworth, Kurt Ankeny, and Rian Hughes Team for the Three-Part Graphic Novella, November

Image Comics has announced the first in a sequence of three graphic novellas by Matt Fraction and Elsa Charretier, with colors by Matt Hollingsworth, exquisitely crafted lettering by cartoonist Kurt Ankeny, and book design by Rian Hughes, titled November.

In November, the lives of three women intersect in a dark criminal underground. As fire and violence tear through their city over the course of a single day and night, they find that their lives are bound together by one man—who seems to be the cause of it all.

Fraction commented in the announcement:

November is a crime thriller about three women connected by unforeseen and terrible circumstances—the kind of random encounter with chaos and darkness that upends lives without warning, walking the line between accident and catastrophe. As a serialized series of novels, the format of November gives us the space and time to explore who these women were before and after everything changed for them, in a sprawling story of chaos and coincidence where everything happens according to a pattern, but no plan ever goes off without a hitch. It’s the kind of story only comics can tell in the way only a comic can tell them, and I couldn’t ask for better collaborators than Elsa, Matt, and Kurt.

Charretier added:

Characters so alive they draw themselves, scripts that feed my imagination for days on end, November is the most challenging project I’ve worked on, and collaborating with such a talented team has been everything I dreamed it’d be.

November, vol. I hardcover (Diamond Code JUL190077, ISBN 978-1-5343-1354-5) will hit comic shops on Wednesday, November 6 and bookstores on Tuesday, November 12. The final order cutoff for comic shop retailers is Monday, August 5.

November, vol. I

Review: DC’s Young Animal Milk Wars

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got the collection of the non-event, Milk Wars!

Milk Wars is by Steve Orlando, Gerard Way, Jody Houser, Cecil Castellucci, Jon Rivera, Magdalene Visaggio, Aco, Ty Templeton, Mirka Andolfo, Langdon Foss, Dale Eaglesham, Nick Derington, Sonny Liew, Tamra Bonvillain, Marissa Louise, Keiren Smith, Nick Filardi, Clem Robins, John Workman, Saida Temofonte, Todd Klein, Frank Quitely, Rian Hughes, Clay Mann, and Marissa Louise.

Get your copy in comic shops today. To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW



DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Preview: Rise of the Black Panther #4

Rise of the Black Panther #4

Story: Evan Narcisse
Consultant: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art: Javier Pina
Color: Stēphane Paitreau
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover and Title Pages: Brian Stelfreeze
Design: Manny Mederos
Logo: Rian Hughes
Editor: Wil Moss
Associate Editor: Sarah Brunstad
Rated T
In Shops: Apr 04, 2018
SRP: $3.99

• Now that T’Challa has revealed Wakanda to the world, he must face that world’s demands – and those of its monarchs. What does Doctor Doom want from the new king?
• And it is not only governments and councils who worry about Wakanda’s safety in the new era. A young refugee sees his country’s coming struggle – and will make his own violence to save it.

Preview: Cave Carson/Swamp Thing Special #1

Cave Carson/Swamp Thing Special #1

(W) Jonathan Rivera, Magdalene Visaggio (A) Langdon Foss, Sonny Liew (CA) Rian Hughes
In Shops: Feb 21, 2018
SRP: $4.99

“MILK WARS” part four! Swamp Thing has detected a disturbance in the Green, and his hunt for it has led him to RetCo headquarters. There he finds Cave Carson and his crew struggling against being assimilated into RetCo’s diabolical narrative. Is it possible for Swampy and Cave to destroy the organization from the inside? Plus, find out how their efforts help Eternity Girl in the final installment of her backup story!

Preview: I Am a Number

I Am a Number

Rian Hughes (w & a & c)

Rian Hughes has got your number!

When everyone has a number, everyone knows their place. Lower numbers are better, higher numbers are less important, and that’s just the way it is. But what if that number could change? You might try to buck the system and assert your individuality… or you might end up with a big fat zero.

Big questions are explored and unexpected answers found in the first solo comics collection from award-winning designer & illustrator Rian Hughes. His whimsical, witty, and insightful strips reveal the lighter side of our obsession with social rankings. Where do you stand in the pecking order? Is your number up?

HC • FC • $19.99 • 120 pages • 6” x 9” • ISBN: 978-1-60309-419-1

Preview: Rivers of London: Black Mould #5


Writers: Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel
Artist: Lee Sullivan
FC – 32pp – $3.99 – On sale: March 8

London’s only trainee wizard cop, PC Peter Grant, has faced many strange and unusual foes, but confronting a sentient, vengeful black mould in the guise a form jazz musician?

That has to be a new one!

Preview: Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor Vol. 3 SC


Writers: Robbie Morrison, George Mann
Artists: Daniel Indro, Ronilson Friere, Mariano Laclaustra
Colorists: Slamet Mujiono, Luis Guerrero
Letterer: Comicraft
Cover: Rian Hughes
FC -128pp – $14.99 – ISBN: 978-1782767442
On sale in comic stores: Sept 28
On sale in book stores: Oct 25

Collects Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #11-15.

The Doctor and Clara face impossible odds as the Hyperions – a race of sentient suns who scorched the universe until the Time Lords brought their reign of terror to an end – have returned, and, worse, have come to Earth, in an epic, four-part season finale! Plus – in a stately home, the pair face a creeping, multiplying threat – and meet a literary guest star!


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