Written By: John Barber
Artist: Paolo Villanelli
Prologue Art: Chris Evenhuis
Coloring: John-Paul Bove & Joana Lafuente
Lettering: Neil Uyetake & Shawn Lee
Cover Artist: Chris Evenhuis
Published by: IDW Publishing
Action Man: The Greatest Hero of them all – has died! Having sacrificed his life for the good of mankind, a new hero must take his role as Earth’s next savior. Ian Noble now wears the iconic blue and gold suit worn by the British Empire’s best agent. Always on the lookout for Doctor X, who was presumed killed years ago in battle, Ian now must track down any trace of this dangerous villain, in order to protect the world and get his own revenge.
Action Man is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, with this comic book adaption coming from IDW Publishing. Things start with a dramatic curve ball, with Action Man dying whilst saving the world. His young agent in training, Ian, now holds the title of Action Man. Struggling with the new job, responsibility and the expectations of those around him, Ian has a lot to learn. He also believes that Enemy No.1, Doctor X, is still alive. This leads him to both disobeying direct orders and suspecting his own teammates.
Ian is constantly being compared to his deceased predecessor by his work colleagues. Along with that amount of pressure, he also has to deal with both his own and others feelings of responsibility for Action Man’s death. Action Man is portrayed as a true hero in everyone’s eyes, who could have done no wrong, something I hope is looked into and perhaps some wrongdoing unearthed in future issues. Ian is still young and naive, with Agent Chan being the only person who is both close to his age and that he has a friendship with in the organisation. We then have Agents Gale & Salmons, teammates of the former Action Man, who are still dealing with both his death and replacement. Director Bestley takes no prisoners, a hard woman who is very capable of running the operation and looking at the bigger picture. She has clearly been in the organisation for some time, and Ian has tested her patience and temper time and time again. Regarding the villains, to have Doctor X return would be exciting, and we do get to see some of his minions in this issue.
Action Man is much like 007, namely both work in covert operations and for the British Government as secret agents. Both are trained in espionage, have cool gadgets and ultimately are there to save Britain and (sometimes) the entire world. Beginning this issue mid-battle, we see how the previous Action Man deals with a room full of Doctor X’s robots and a giant rocket that would destroy much of the British Isles. Doctor X isn’t the only bad guy though, as Ian finds out when he sets out to stop a runaway train that has been hijacked with passengers onboard. This leads to a high-speed rail chase, with window-smashing, ass-kicking action; there’s nothing like the threat of a chemical bomb to get the blood pumping! Yet, despite this, its Doctor X’s hidden Chateau in the mountains that will bring the most exciting action for our new hero.
The foreword at the beginning of this issue was actually quite interesting. My only experience with Action Man were the toys my brother used to get as a child. Apart from the odd cartoon episode I used to see on TV, I knew nothing else about him. The introduction written by John Barber gave a good background picture of Action Man & how he came to be a part of this comic adaption. Barber had previously worked for Marvel before jumping to IDW Publishing to write Transformers. Paolo Villanelli was the artist on this project, who has also worked on Action Man Revolution last year and even on the G.I. Joe comics. This comic however brings more of a Marvel vibe, as Ian definitely resembles Peter Parker for the majority of the story, especially on page 16, when he travels along the outside of the moving train. With overlapping panels and color coordinated speech bubbles, which is very helpful by the way, it was a very easy read. Its fast-paced fight scenes in the issue are eye catching, making it very easy to imagine the characters moving along as you read. It really does make the comic come alive.
Certainly, there are a lot of positive points from this issue, and I would like to see how the story will continue down the line; perhaps a look at Doctor X in the next issue? So far, Action Man is highly recommended.