Ministry of Space
Ministry of Space is a three-part alternate history
Alternate history (fiction)
Alternate history or alternative history is a genre of fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which history has diverged from the actual history of the world. It can be variously seen as a sub-genre of literary fiction, science fiction, and historical fiction; different alternate...

Limited series
A limited series is a comic book series with a set number of installments. A limited series differs from an ongoing series in that the number of issues is determined before production and it differs from a one shot in that it is composed of multiple issues....

 written by Warren Ellis
Warren Ellis
Warren Girard Ellis is an English author of comics, novels, and television, who is well-known for sociocultural commentary, both through his online presence and through his writing, which covers transhumanist themes...

, published by Image Comics
Image Comics
Image Comics is a United States comic book publisher. It was founded in 1992 by high-profile illustrators as a venue where creators could publish their material without giving up the copyrights to the characters they created, as creator-owned properties. It was immediately successful, and remains...

, starting in 2001
2001 in comics
-Year overall:* Marvel Comics withdraws from the Comics Code Authority and established its own rating system for its publications.- January :* January 23: Fred Ray, Superman's primary cover artist of the 1940s, passes away at age 80.- September :...

. The book's art is by Chris Weston
Chris Weston
Chris Weston is a British comics artist who has worked both in the US and UK comics industries.-Biography:Weston was born in January, 1969 in Rinteln, Germany, and lived in various countries as a child...

, and depicts retro
Retro is a culturally outdated or aged style, trend, mode, or fashion, from the overall postmodern past, that has since that time become functionally or superficially the norm once again. The use of "retro" style iconography and imagery interjected into post-modern art, advertising, mass media, etc...

 technology in a believably 'British' style.

The story is set in an alternate history where soldiers and operatives of the United Kingdom reached the German rocket installations at Peenemünde
The Peenemünde Army Research Center was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office ....

 ahead of the U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and the Soviets
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, and brought all the key personnel and technology to England, in a mirror of the real world's Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II...

. Thus is created the Ministry of Space, whose mission is to develop British space technology and establish a firm foothold in space for Queen and Empire.

Elements of social commentary are present throughout the book, as is typical of Ellis' work, while the drama of the story is found in the lives of the first pioneers of space exploration (as in The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff (book)
The Right Stuff is a 1979 book by Tom Wolfe about the pilots engaged in U.S. postwar experiments with experimental rocket-powered, high-speed aircraft as well as documenting the stories of the first Project Mercury astronauts selected for the NASA space program...

). This social commentary is disguised in a snippet of dialogue here and a background detail in the art elsewhere, relying upon the readers' own observations to bring it to light.

Publication history

Originally intended as a three-part monthly series, Ministry of Space was first released in May 2001. Delays prompted the release of issue #2 in September 2001 instead of June. The last issue finally saw print in April 2004
2004 in comics
-February:*February 6: Marvel Enterprises and Electronic Arts announce a multi-year agreement in which EA will develop a new generation of fighting video games pitting Marvel superheroes against a new, original set of EA heroes....

, three years late. No specific reason has been given for the delays.

In his afterword to the series, Ellis speaks of how Ministry of Space came to be. While converting his attic into a library, he found a lost, forgotten copy of the Dan Dare
Dan Dare
Dan Dare is a British science fiction comic hero, created by illustrator Frank Hampson who also wrote the first stories, that is, the Venus and Red Moon stories, and a complete storyline for Operation Saturn...

comic The Man From Nowhere
The Man from Nowhere
"The Man from Nowhere" is the fifteenth episode of the popular 1969 ITC British television series Randall and Hopkirk starring Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre. The episode was first broadcast on 28 December 1969 on the ITV. Directed by Robert Tronson.-Synopsis:A man enters Jeannie's...

. In the fifties, this was science fiction. Now, it has the feel of alternate history.


The narrative moves back and forth between the last days of World War II, the first few years of the British space programme
British space programme
The British space programme is a plan by the UK government and other interested bodies to promote British participation in the international market for satellite launches, satellite construction and other space endeavours. Significantly, however, it has never been government policy to create a...

, and the year 2001. The British have captured and relocated to England all the scientists and equipment found in Peenemünde, among them Dr. Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

 and the plans and pieces of the V-2 rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 bomb. Peenemunde and American advance troops are then (intentionally) obliterated by friendly fire
Friendly fire
Friendly fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death. A death resulting from a negligent discharge is not considered friendly fire...

, so that they cannot challenge the emergent British technological advantage.

The entire scheme is masterminded by Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 officer Air Commodore John Dashwood, survivor of the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

, who manages to convince Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 to establish the Ministry of Space and fund it with a black budget
Black budget
A black budget is a budget that is secretly collected from the overall income of a country, a corporation, a society of any form, a national department, and so on. A black budget usually covers expenses related to military research. The budget is kept secret for national security reasons.Philip...

. The following years see British pilots breaking the sound barrier
Sound barrier
The sound barrier, in aerodynamics, is the point at which an aircraft moves from transonic to supersonic speed. The term, which occasionally has other meanings, came into use during World War II, when a number of aircraft started to encounter the effects of compressibility, a collection of several...

 (1946), launching the first artificial satellite in 1948, pioneering manned spaceflight (1950), building a space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

 (1953-56), landing on the Moon (1960), and then establishing a colonial base on Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 in 1969.

The story ends in 2001 and involves an American attempt to go into space, and their blackmailing of the British government concerning the secrets of the Black Budget that funded the Ministry of Space (which was derived from looting gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 reserves from Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust). However, thanks to Dashwood's crimes , the British space programme has a manned spacecraft that has reached Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

, thriving British Martian and lunar colonies, asteroid belt
Asteroid belt
The asteroid belt is the region of the Solar System located roughly between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. It is occupied by numerous irregularly shaped bodies called asteroids or minor planets...

 mines and at least three Earth orbital space stations providing the country with free solar energy. The unrepentant Dashwood dismisses the Ministry's outrage at its origins with the claim that England will not care about the truth when it has reaped such benefits from the programme. However, the price of progress is hinted by a closing page that shows the culturally static Empire practices segregationism; the black female pilot that flew Dashwood to one of the space stations for questioning is shown to be staying in "Non-White" quarters.

Collected editions

The series has been collected into a single volume
Trade paperback (comics)
In comics, a trade paperback is a collection of stories originally published in comic books, reprinted in book format, usually capturing one story arc from a single title or a series of stories with a connected story arc or common theme from one or more titles...

, in both softcover (March 2005, Image, ISBN 1582404232, Titan
Titan Books
Titan Publishing Group is an independently owned publishing company, established in 1981. It is based at offices in London, England's Bankside area. The Books Division has two main areas of publishing: film & TV tie-ins/cinema reference books; and graphic novels and comics reference/art titles. The...

, ISBN 1840239247) and hardcover editions (Image, March 2005, ISBN 1582404240).
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