Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Reads You Review: MINISTRY OF SPACE #1

IMAGE COMICS – @ImageComics

WRITER: Warren Ellis
ARTIST: Chris Weston
COLORS: Laura DePuy
32pp, Color, $2.95 U.S., $4.63 CAN (April 2001)

Cleaning my house and digging through boxes will yield treasures… or maybe comic books I forgot I had.  I found copies of Ministry of Space, the three-part, alternate history miniseries written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Chris Weston.  The first two issues of Ministry of Space were published by Image Comics in 2001, with the third and final issue not being published until 2004.

First, a quick historical overview:  near the end of World War II, the United States, through the program, Operation Paperclip, recruited the scientists of Nazi Germany for their scientific expertise.  This is how the U.S. advanced its defensive missile and rocket and space programs.  The U.S. wanted to deny these Nazis’ knowledge to the United Kingdom and especially to the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), which did manage to capture some German scientists.

Ministry of Space #1 introduces an alternate-Earth history in which British soldiers and operatives reached the German rocket installations at Peenemünde ahead of the U.S. Army and the Soviets.  Thus, the Brits get the Nazi rocket science brain trust.  With this acquisition of key German personnel and Nazi technology, Sir John “Jacko” Dashwood, Air Commodore of the Royal Air Force, creates the Ministry of Space.  This ministry’s mission is to develop British space technology and to claim space for “King and Country and the British Empire.”

Ministry of Space #1 has an interesting premise.  It certainly makes me wonder if our world would be better off if the British had won the space race.  Then, I remember the British Empire, its mass murder of indigenous people for their natural resources, and the “White man’s burden.”  So was the British Empire better or worse than the American and Soviet empires?  You can consider that a rhetorical question, if you wish.

Premise aside, Ministry of Space #1 is sometimes aloof, sometimes tepid, but despite Dashwood’s machinations, surprisingly positive, as if to suggest that there is hope for mankind in Dashwood’s plans.  Chris Weston’s art, with its retro feel, and Laura DePuy’s colors recall Frank Hampson’s Dan Dare.  Ministry of Space also reminds me of the delightful British color adventure and genre films of the 1950s and 1960s that I watch on Antenna TV.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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