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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Spaceship Away 34

The latest issue of Spaceship Away, dated Autumn but as usual released in November, celebrates Christmas in old-fashioned Eagle style, with the latest Dan Dare yarn's opening page festooned with snow. It's good to see that in Dan's future, snow is still a feature, along with carol singing and an emergency that requires immediate attention over the holiday period.

When Tim Booth's story debuted last issue, we discovered that the Kookaburra, a spaceship in the same line as the Kingfisher—the disappearance of which gave the very first episode of Dan Dare its climax—is heading directly towards Mercury Station, part ferryport, part science lab, which orbits the sun in the shadow of Mercury.

Well, in the latest episode we discover that Kookaburra was carrying a terrible weapon intended as a last ditch effort should the campaign on Venus against the Mekon fail. Dan contacts Professor Peabody on Mercury... and that's pretty much it as far as plot goes. The story is unfolding at the pace of the original yarns, with space for little bits of scientific fact and domestic scenes, such as having Peabody and her assistant Urb-Urtos putting up Christmas decorations. Most comics would drop these in favour of action, action, action... it's nice to have a strip take its time and move along at a pace that's a little more measured.

Tim Booth's artwork continues to amaze me. He's doing ten pages per issue, split between the lead strip and the ongoing 'Parsecular Tales', which has reached episode 15. Both strips retain the feel of the original Dan, and the continued support of Don Harley, who provides the cover and centre-spread for this issue, makes Spaceship Away! the natural successor of Eagle Mk.1.

This issue also contains a complete Jet Morgan yarn from one of the Express Annuals, and articles by Andrew Darlington (DD tales in Eagle Annuals of the 1960s), Alan Vince (the failed attempt to put DD on TV in the 1970s) and John Lawrence (a look at Ron Turner's Space Ace). With additional illustrations by Graham Bleathman and Mike Trim, it's a packed issue and worth every penny of the asking price for its beautiful colour production.

This issue also has a little bonus in the shape of a 24-page, A5 booklet containing a Dan Dare Christmas story, 'The Swords of the Martyrs' by Denis Steeper.

You can find out more about the magazine, buy back issues and subscribe to the latest issues at the Spaceship Away website.

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