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Monday, November 20, 2017

Spaceship Away #43 (Autumn 2017)

Spaceship Away has a new issue out. Typing the subject line, it struck me that I should mention that, although dated Autumn, it's not late as the schedule is four-monthly, with issues released in March, July and November. This issue has a Christmassy feel to it, with a delightful Don Harley cover featuring Dan and company building a Mekon snowman.

The trio of comic strips continues from last issue: Tim Booth provides another eight pages of his latest Dan Dare yarn, 'Shakedown Cruise', which I'm pleased to see. Back in the day, the magazine ran two Dare stories, which could stretch even the most devout readers' patience as Booth's earlier stories ran for six and seven years.

This issue, the storyline's pace picks up a little from last issue's debut, with Professor Peabody's sister, Snooks, revealing that she has been working undercover to infiltrate a rebel Treen group, the Mekonista, who are responsible for a satellite moving out of orbit in the Kuiper Belt. Dan and his crew of trainee cadets head off into deep space to investigate... only to encounter a Treen ship.

The other two strips are part two of 'Operation Pintos', from, I believe, an old Express Weekly Annual, and the continuation of 'The Golden Amazon', a strip drawn by Ron Turner back in 1990 and newly coloured by Martin Baines. Based on Conquest of the Amazon by John Russell Fearn, this episode reveals the origins of the Golden Amazon.

An article by Andrew Darlington on the old Modern Wonder boys' paper from the 1930s could easily have been expanded to allow for more, or just larger, illustrations, as the paper was chock full of delightful artwork and cutaways. The "selected best" listing is a little redundant as the contents of the  magazine have been listed and indexed at the FictionMags website for the past 15 years (I know, because I checklisted the complete run of the paper back in 2002 as part of the old Story Paper Index!)

I can't help but feel that 'Space News' is also a little redundant, as the end of the Cassini space probe, for instance, occurred in September and was widely covered at the time, both online and in print. The BBC Horizon programme Goodbye Cassini–Hello Saturn was broadcast in September. Similarly, both the Virgin and SpaceX programmes were recently the subject matter for Brian Cox's The 21st Century Race for Space, broadcast in November, and some of the same ground was covered in an earlier doc. about travelling to Mars in September.

I'm also not sure if Spaceship Away is the best place for video reviews of modern computer games, but it is the place for an interview with David Leach, who is editor of the current Dan Dare comic from Titan and the Titan reprints of the original Eagle strips.

With an episode of Davy Rocket plus some DD artwork by hobbyist painter Andy Price wrapping up the latest issue, its a bit of a mixed bag this time round, but always worth the price of entry.

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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