“Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.”
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan

With a career that spans six decades, there are pieces of Grant Morrison’s work that sadly falls through the cracks.

Some of it is earlier material that has become more difficult to obtain due to time and relative obscurity. Others due to licensing. And a few fall within both categories. Like your Doctor Who, Spider-Man and Zoids, The Avengers, and more. Some get collected in nice perennial editions. Others you’re going to have to track down at possibly higher prices for originals. All of them, I think are interesting to search out and see how Morrison approached these characters and developed as a writer. One of my favourites is their interpretation of space pilot Dan Dare in Dare from Morrison, Rian Hughes, and Ellie de Ville.

Originally serialized in Revolver (2000 AD‘s short-lived mature readers anthology in the early ’90s), then collected and published in North America by Fantagraphics as a four-issue series, Dare approaches the space adventurer (kind of like something like Buck Rogers) as an old man in a world that kind of left him behind. Set in a dystopian analogue to Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, Dan Dare finds himself enlisted to use his nostalgic value to help rehabilitate the government’s image for the next election cycle. There’s also the mystery of the suicide of one of his old friends and what has gone wrong between human and alien relations. It’s a nice mix of pulp noir and sci-fi, with themes Morrison readers will find familiar from The Invisibles.

Rian Hughes’ style here is angular, boxy, and minimalist, similar to someone like Paul Grist or D’Israeli. I find the minimalist approach works very well for pulp tales. The art has a deceptive simplicity that allows what is not shown to diffuse the atmosphere easily to the reader. That feeling is enhanced further by the colour washes Hughes employs and the unique squared off word balloons from Ellie de Ville. The overall look and feel of this reminds me of Dean Motter’s Mister X, a bit of different eras of Grendel, and Ted McKeever’s Metropol.

Dare by Grant Morrison, Hughes, and de Ville is a reinterpretation of a classic figure through a dystopian lens. It leans in to the ideas of society going wrong while telling a compelling bit of intrigue regarding what’s really going on.

(I’d also note that Dare is included in the collection of Rian Hughes’ comics work, Yesterday’s Tomorrows. I believe that both the Knockabout and Image editions are out of print. Though you should still be able to find a used copy of the Knockabout hardcover for a decent price. The collection also has Hughes’ other collaboration with Morrison, Really & Truly. It’s another 2000 AD serial that often flies under the radar.)

Dare by Grant Morrison

Classic Comic Compendium: Dare by Grant Morrison, Rian Hughes

Dare by Grant Morrison, Rian Hughes
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Rian Hughes
Letterer: Ellie de Ville
Publisher: Fantagraphics (North American reprint issues)
Release Date: January – June 1992
Also available collected in Dare: The Controversial Memoir of Dan Dare and Yesterday’s Tomorrows

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!