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Ministry Of Space

Ministry Of Space back

Warren Ellis & Chris Weston


Page 45 Review by Stephen

Everything about this book screams traditional British comicbook, from the aircraft and its initial World War II setting, right through to the colouring which is not the customary Laura Martin fare (always very fine, mind), deliberately going for an old-fashioned feel with newfangled quality. In fact, the overall visual sensibilities I'd put close to Bryan Talbot's most recent Luther Arkwright book, HEART OF EMPIRE. Really solid forms, detailed architecture, enormous space scenes, completely accessible and thoroughly mainstream in appeal. Or, as Mark Millar describes it in his dis-introduction, "Dan Dare for the deranged".

For the script, being from Ellis, has a nasty bite. It's one of those temporal crossroad affairs, where history has taken a different path after the British capture the German scientists who built the V-2 rockets. Smarting from the fact that the we failed to win the Second World War unaided, Air Commodore John Dashwood is driven by a vision to put Britannia back on the international map by dominating the globe from above and win the space race.

1956: "The Prime Minister today recognised Egyptian control of the Suez Canal. Egypt took control of the Canal after America refused to finance the Aswan Dam -- a project that Britain pulled out of in 1949 -- in response to Egyptian ties with the Soviets. Concerns that Egypt may cut off the petroleum shipments to Europe that pass through the Canal were today dismissed by the Prime Minister in a prepared statement: "They say the British Empire is old, but we soar beyond even the youngest and brashest countries. They say the British Empire is losing control of its colonies, but our colonies are as clear as the stars, and out of their reach. Let the youths of this world have their petty fights. We have more important things to tend to." He went on to celebrate Churchill Station in Earth orbit, which is now generating its own power -- and discussed the so-called "Space Power Farms" planned by the Ministry of Space, which would send electricity to Earth from immense solar panels in space...

1957: "In other news, it seems that national service conscription will not be abolished, and is in fact being opened up to include the Royal Space Force. Sir John Dashwood, head of the Ministry of Space, said today, "We can let our children waste their lives on street corners, wearing American clothes and listening to rubbish -- or we can give them honour, discipline and the stars."

Vast and advanced metal structures now abound in the heavens, Mars in on the horizon, and Britain's majesty is there for all to see. But it didn't just take the brains of German scientists to achieve so much, it took a vast amount of money: a Black Budget also gleaned from the war in one of the most hideous acts of the last century...
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