SYDNEY’S PLANS FOR THE DAN DARE STORY IN THE “PLANET” NEWSPAPER
In writing the Dan Dare strip Sydney says that he had two clear aims. Firstly to update the Dan Dare Universe to reconcile it more with present day knowledge of the Solar system, particularly with what we know of the actual conditions on Venus, but in a way that would not disturb or contradict the Dan Dare timeline and which would not jar with the sensibilities of existing fans. Secondly, mindful of the existing Dan Dare universe, he was keen that the new story should be a development from that universe, moving it forward but using the characters and technology from the original comic , and exploiting any unused storylines or loose ends which may not have been completed in the original strip.
His central plot idea was to create a threat coming in from outside the Solar system, a threat so overwhelming that that Earth and Venus would have to pool all their resources in order to overcome this foe. Sydney’s story opens with
Dan, who has apparently lost his memory, in a somewhat disheveled state. If the story had continued, Sydney wouldhave gone on to reveal that this memory loss was due to an encounter that Dan had had with this encroaching entity as he was sent to investigate it by Spacefleet. Contact with it had given him some valuable information but had had a devastating effect upon his mind , causing a kind of self-imposed amnesia.
Sydney’s first thought had been to set this first encounter on Mars, on one of the Earth settlements, where archeologists had discovered that ancient Martian civilization had been itself destroyed by this entity , a part of which still resided within the planet. But a little research showed that this particular storyline would clash with THE RED MOON MYSTERY which had already accounted for the destruction of ancient Mars and the realm of Dortan-uth-Alger. So another setting had to be found for this first encounter. An obvious choice was the Saturnian empire, contact with which had not been made in any of the Dan Dare stories since OPERATION SATURN except for a brief appearance of Tharl in OPERATION SILENCE ( Eagle annual 6).
So Dan would have been sent to the Saturnian empire to investigate the complete cut in communications between it and the inner planets. Some new political disturbance had been suspected, but instead the party found nothing but devastation on the inhabited moons, now lifeless and barren, their inhabitants driven to madness and destruction . In the ruins of Titan city Dan was to encounter the Entity that had
wrought the destruction or at least the part of it that remained there. The expedition returned to Earth where reports of the new threat were shared with the Treens and Therons. As Dan had been the only member of the party to actually experience a “close encounter” with the entity, he alone suffered the mental collapse that we see in the opening panels of Sydney ‘s story. It was decided that some rest and recuperation might release important memories , memories which could give some vital clues about the entity.
And what of the Mekon? His last attempts at the re-conquest of Venus had ended in debacle and he had abandoned this plan on discovering that his ally Xel had failed in his own invasion of the Earth (see. Dan Dare – THE MOONSLEEPERS). Now without the help and resources of the Last Three (see – ALL TREENS MUST DIE), the Mekon was forced to retreat to his satellite headquarters far out in Deep space. But he was not yet beaten, for another opportunity seemed to be presenting itself. Here his own Treen scientists had also spotted the encroachment of the entity, and resouceful as ever the wily Mekon decided that it might be a useful ally.
To be continued . Skipper Prossitt