Its a conspiracy! Brexit is a fiendish Mekon plot! Or maybe not, but in a post-Referendum world where those of a Leaving persuasion congratulate UK astronaut Tim Peake with the caveat “No need to do it again”, ambitions for the space industry seem to be coming down to earth.
But did the original British Spaceman predict the advent of a Great Britain that adopted a more insular approach to the world? Did the future world of Dan Dare see the Brexit coming?
Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future first appeared in Eagle in 1950, taking off with a story about global famine on Earth and a mission to source aid from another planet. Rationing was still prevalent in post-War Britain, so lack of food was a familiar topic. Ironically the launch of the weekly comic blew a significant and controversial hole in the paper rationing quotas observed by publishers at the time.
Dare’s initial adventures were set around 40 years ahead in a Nineties future where a UN led world government charted an international crew from Space Fleet to penetrate the murky atmosphere of Venus in search of new nosh.
The affairs of state are never explained in detail, after all the focus is on Colonel Dare, Digby, Hank, Pierre, Peabody and others during extraterrestrial escapades. Whether they are dealing with The Mekon or the Red Moon, there is a sense that they live on a world that has decided to get along with itself.
You might expect this status quo to take a dent after alien invasion. Dan and some of his comrades spend a decade in suspended animation for an interstellar voyage to Cryptos. They return to find The Mekon has conquered Earth.
The evil mastermind is defeated and on the face of things life returns to normal (which for Dare and Co means investigating the arrival of the Cosmobe Fleet).
Coincidentally, the Cosmobe adventure is set around now. It predicts the need to accommodate a diaspora fleeing warmongers. In a civilised conclusion, intergalactic refugees are allowed to set up home in Earth’s oceans. Optimism is a characteristic of these adventures.
Next up is Dare’s second interstellar jaunt, a visit to Terra Nova in search of his father (believed dead but it happened off camera, so there you go). In terms of comic pages, this is a period where the original creators depart, the consistent vision softens. Adventures are shorter and possibly less conscious of continuity.
By the time movie Doctor Who is reading the Eagle in the Swinging Sixties, Britain has clearly left whatever federation united the world and 2020s Dare is receiving “get it done or else” instructions from a gruff and humourless Prime Minister (Boris Johnson without his hair?). Fox News would no doubt approve that while Dan was flying between the stars we had a referendum and left the UN.
In these closing adventures, Dare’s crew is no longer an international concern and the optimism, if not gone, is waning. (The strip fell into reprint mode in 1967. No wonder the 200oAD version looked so frazzled. Now that’s a strip without hope).