01/11/2008. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Spaceship Away. Rod Barzilay, 8 Marley Close, Preston, Weymouth, Dorset DT3 6DH, UK. 48 page A4 glossy stock magazine. Price: £ 6.99 (UK), 9.00 euro, £10.00 (overseas).
check out website: http://spaceshipaway.org.uk
When this magazine arrived I was somewhat taken back because the interior featured a 'Dan Dare' story that looked remarkably like looked remarkably like a Frank Hampson story, right down to having 'The Eagle' masthead at the start of each two page chapter. It wasn't Hampson. Gads, sir, you bounders. You delightful bounders. What an amazing homage. Artist Tim Booth looks like he was schooled by the great man himself and writer Rod Barzilay has caught the essence of the 1950s when it seemed that the British Empire was going to lead the way into space instead of those rich colonials.
Although I was chucked into the deep end with the 26th episode of 'Green Nemesis', the forward and the story immediately drew you in to what was going on. Actually, chums, I don't think it is the 26th episode. Each section seems to have a different random number. Nevertheless, Professor Peabody and her companions have been captured by that dastardly Mekon's troops and Dan Dare is leading the team to their rescue.
To throw confusion into things, there are also sections of two other 'Dan Dare' stories also continuing in this issue. 'Rocket Pilot' by Keith Page where Dan is prepping to take a prototype spaceship around the Moon and Tim Booth writing/illustrating 'The Gates Of Eden' where Dan is getting ready to go to the Asteroid Belt to rescue Hogan and Lafayette from pirates. That Dan Dare chap is being kept very busy. Rarely has a chance to put his feet on the ground, don't you know.
With all three stories you're back in the nostalgia of the Hampson days and if you wallowed in the now extinct Titan Books reprints of the originals, you're going to be at home here. There is also an interview with artist Don Harley about his time working with Hampson who clearly was a bit of a slave-driver.
'Dan Dare' is not the only stories here. We also have 'Ex Astris' painted by Mike Nicoll and written by John Freeman. The artwork has a more airbrushed look that makes it look a little more modern but only by technique. As it's the first part of a story much of it is build up with space investigator Sarah Blake hunting a killer down on the Ceres asteroid now placed in Mars orbit. Still in build-up and you'll have to wait for the second episode to see what happens next.
'Journey Into Space: Planet Of Fear' episode ten written by Charles Tilton and art by Tacconi again has that 50s look where the lead characters are trapped on alien planet. I suspect it would be easier to get into this story if I'd seen more of the earlier stories.
'Nick Hazard Interstellar Agent' as written by Philip Harbottle and drawn by Ron Turner coloured by John Ridgeway starts off with a fresh adventure. Hazard lives up to his name by volunteering to take a body implant antidote to the space fleet who are fighting the Vorgans and getting zapped by the enemy.
I was reading the letter column spread over several pages and getting the reaction to Iain McClumpha's 'Space Girls' before actually getting to the story. Very much more in the earlier 'Ex Astris' story in that the art has been put through computer colour and has a more, how shall I say this, 'Heavy Metal' look but that's more to do with the colour scheme than showing excessive flesh. The two cute lady space pirates evade a space fleet before arriving at a space station. If you're used to having to wait for the next issue to see what happens next, as we British were brought up, then this should be no problem as the next edition is out in February.
In many ways, this is the traditional space war opera and if I had to be critical then there's far too many battle battles and wars going on but with comicstrip there is always a need for graphic imagery. There is also a selection of one page humour stories to break up the mix. None of this should prevent you enjoying this magazine and I suspect many on discovering it will want to track down the back issues. The quality of the art is extraordinary considering the budget and quality full colour glossy paper. However, there is enough reminiscences of the early 'Eagle' comic to make anyone with an interest this way feel quite at home with a desire to support it. With five years of issues under its belt, you'll probably wonder how you missed it for so long. Outstanding.
Add SFcrowsnest.com daily news updates to your own web site or blog - just cut and paste the code below...
Stephen Hunt's novels - USA