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Monday, July 17, 2017

Spaceship Away #42 (Summer 2017)

It's always a pleasure to have Spaceship Away drop through the letterbox. Des Shaw has maintained the high standards set by original editor Rod Barzilay and has kept the title rolling along with a decent momentum since 2003.

The strip content is split three ways this issue. The main event, as always, is the latest Dan Dare yarn, written and drawn by Tim Booth, who does a bang-up job of recreating the characters and look of the old Frank Hampson era Dan Dare. A new story was launched with four 2-page episodes last issue (which I'm sure is still available if you're coming late to Spaceship Away). This issue sees a further four episodes... and I hope this is a sign of things to come, as eight pages per issue means enough plot for the reader to get their teeth into—vital when you have to wait four months between issues.

The latest tale, 'Shakedown Cruise', is shaping up into a fun storyline. Four students have been chosen to accompany Dan and Digby on a mission aboard the Discovery, an old crate upgraded to serve as a training ship. Over the course of these episodes we get to see Far Side City and meet Professor Peabody's sister, Snooks. The storyline is slowly building... and that's why running more than a couple of episodes at a time makes for a far better reading experience.

The rest of the strip contents consists of a Fifties reprint by Gordon Coombs and Harry Winslade (from an Express Weekly Annual probably) and a Ron Turner reprint from 1990, newly coloured by Martin Baines. This features John Russell Fearn's 'Golden Amazon' and was originally published in its own one-off comic based on the novel Conquest of the Amazon. A 1948 introduction by Fearn himself sets the scene as the present story builds on events of the previous novel. The sun is growing unstable and Earth could be frozen within two years. Only the Golden Amazon can save the day... or maybe not... we'll just have to wait for the next episode.

There are some interesting articles for fans of old science fiction comics as Andrew Darlington takes a very thorough look at the history of Jet-Ace Logan, as does Philip Harbottle with the Tit-Bits Science Fiction Comics series. Jeremy Briggs reveals a forgotten bit of Dan Dare history in his article about a 1972 Dan Dare play that was staged at the Half Moon Theatre.

Add a nice cut-out drawing by Graham Bleathman, an episode of Davy Rocket, artwork by Don Harley and a brief history of rocketry, and you have another excellent issue.

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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