The Cosmodes regularly reiterate that their intentions are honorable, though even our hero has his moments of niggling doubt about this — while some of the more bombastic members of the governing Space Ministry want to Kill 'Em All And Let God Sort It Out. Once the nasty Pescods actually begin their invasion, though, we quickly learn where the Cosmodes' sympathies lie.
"Phantom Fleet" is designed to follow its weekly two-page structure, with many of each week's concluding panels breathlessly telling readers that they sure don't wanna miss next week's "terrific thrills." At times, Hampson oversells the excitement to come, though the story does contain its share of neat moments, particularly in a sequence when our heroes come aboard the aliens' ships for the first time. Young Flamer demonstrates a remarkable facility for sneaking on board just before the big battles, natch: a transparent kid ploy that never would've worked for this reader even back in 1958. As an eight-year-old, I never was much invested in kid sidekicks; I'd much rather focus on the grown-up comic relief like Digby.
As a bonus, an eight-page Christmas trifle, "Operation Plum-Pudding," is included in the volume. Centering on Digby's thwarted desires for a big ol' holiday feast, it's pretty slight, though, again, young Flamer sneaks aboard Dan's space ship Swiftstar, this time with Digby's aid. The kid was incorrigible.
As for our stalwart lead, he's straightlaced and upright in the classic boy's adventure mode, though the "satanic" squiggle in his eyebrows hints at something darker. As a well-known pop culture figure in Britain, Dan Dare has inspired more than his share of satiric piss-takes (one written by Grant Morrison), though the version we get here is the real straight arrow. This is as it should be: you're gonna name your hero Dan Dare, then he'd better be as forthright and true as they come. Though later attempts to revive the character would foolishly try to make him edgier, Hampson's Dare is the model that deservedly endures.