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Virgin takes up ‘Dare’

Company revives classic comic character

Virgin Comics is bringing British adventurer Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future out of retirement, with plans to publish a new line of comicbooks and develop a feature around the intergalactic flyer.

Dare — described as Britain’s version of Buck Rogers — launched as a comic strip character in the Eagle magazine in the 1950s. He’s long been a favorite of Virgin topper Richard Branson, who led the effort to acquire the publishing, TV, movie and vidgame rights to Dare.

“Dan Dare is a heroic, thoughtful and fiercely independent character,” Branson said. “I was an avid reader of his epic journeys.”

In fact, Branson has been such a fan over the years, he’s displayed artwork from the Dare comic series in Virgin Atlantic Airways lounges.

New comicbook series will bow in November, written by comicbook vet Garth Ennis, whose credits include “Preacher,” “Hitman” and John Woo’s “Seven Brothers.”

“Dan Dare is the quintessential British hero,” Ennis said. “He’s our Captain America, our Superman, our Batman; he’s all of them rolled into one.”

New books will have Dare emerge from a self-imposed exile, the result of his disgust with politics and the post-nuclear warfare that has destroyed North America and much of Asia — leaving the U.K. as the world’s last remaining superpower.

CAA is packaging the potential film and meeting with clients about the project.

The character has continued to be featured in comics since the ’50s. He had his own radio show and more recently starred in a CGI-animated series in 2002. A “Best of the Eagle” book will be published in October.

Virgin Comics has been on a roll recently, inking deals with John Woo, Terry Gilliam, Shekhar Kapur, Jonathan Mostow, Ed Burns and Nicolas Cage to create their own comicbooks that could be adapted into films.

Its first adaptation will be “The Gamekeeper,” that Guy Ritchie created and will helm, with Joel Silver set to produce.

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