Having bagged my Dan Dare bargain (see previous post) I was eager to read it, and did so over the past few days.
I hadn't known this was the volume that covered the 'transitional era' as the torch was passed from Frank Hampson to Frank Bellamy et al. The transition is covered in an afterword article that makes for sad reading - Hampson had no copyright in Dan Dare and so was effectively kicked off the strip in order for the Eagle's new managament to implement their new vision, which included cheaper production methods (out with the Hampson 'studio' system) and shorter stories (out with Hampson's months-long epic adventures which had ample room for detail, characterisation, etc).
Sadly this change occurs almost at the precise mid-point. The first change is the artwork. Bellamy is great, a vivid artist with his own style.... it just isn't up to Hampson's standard, for this strip anyway. And the story, which has been developing at its own pace, suddenly becomes rushed.
The story is basically a good one. On safari on Venus, Dan and his friends are kidnapped by McHoo, a former colleague of Dan's long-lost father. For various reasons Dan goes along with McHoo's scheme to visit the new planet Terra Nova. There, Dan discovers the truth of what happened to his dad.
The backgrounds are excellent, the characters are excellent, everything is excellent.... up to that mid-point. The it all goes a bit wonky. The main story is wrapped up quickly and a stupid new one (having to overthrow a dictator on one of Terra Nova's continents) is brought in from leftfield. It jars, and it affected my enjoyment of the book as a whole.
On the plus side, I now know that all books prior to Volume 9 will be all-Hampson ones!
Overall rating: 6/10