The latest in Titan Books' reprint volumes of the original Dan Dare series has recently been published. My copy arrived from Amazon.co.uk on 14th May, 2009.
The full list of published Dan Dare titles can be seen at the Titan Books website. Although the 10th story in the Dan Dare series, The Phantom Fleet is the 11th volume in Titan's series since the first (Venus) story and 'Operation Saturn' were each split over two volumes and 'The Ship that Lived' was appended to 'Reign of the Robots'. This book also includes the Dan Dare story 'Operation Plum Pudding', which originally appeared in Eagle Annual No 5. Thers is an Introduction by Jeff Wayne (composer of the award-winning musical version of War of the Worlds), and an article on the life and work of Frank Bellamy (Frank Hampson's successor on 'Dan Dare,), by Paul Holder.
With echoes of the first Dan Dare story, 'The Phantom Fleet' opens with a spaceship awaiting take-off. But, rather than the terrestrial "Headquarters of the Interplanet Spacefleet some years in the future", the scene is now "Spacefleet Base on the Moon, some years in the future...' On board is Dan Dare, Chief Pilot of the Spacefleet, making a routine check flight. Take-off goes well, but the ship has to return to the Moon in an emergency when all Spacefleet communications are mysteriously jammed. Dan and Co. investigate, and discover a race of highly intelligent aquatic aliens, the Cosmobes, who are intent on Earth colonisation. But it turns out the Cosmobes are fleeing a much more aggressive foe, from their dying home world...
Die-hard Eagle fans may already have their collections of original Eagles and the Hawk Book reprints, but that shouln't stop them collecting these too! Beautifully produced in hardback with wrap-around dustjacket and in a convenient size, if you don't know what Dan Dare is about, or came to Dan Dare in one of his later incarnations, this series is the best place to start to find out about the original 1950s Frank Hampson creation.
First published beginning 25th April 1958, the opening episodes of 'The Phantom Fleet' shows some of the Dan Dare production team's best work. It's good to see this series continuing. Although I appreciate there may be formatting issues with some of the later stories, I can only hope that Titan manage to complete the reprints of the whole series, rather than cut it short as the Hawk Books series did.
Although at a reduced size compared with the originals, with pages a little over A4 in size, this does make for a more handleable product. The more observant will notice that picture of Dan on the cover is different from that used for promotion before publication, which recycled an image of Dan from 'Operation Saturn'.