Captain Action is beginning his third life in comics this September in the 6-issue Codename: Action mini-series from Dynamite. Originally a 1960s action figure with licensed costumes to dress it up like Superman, Spider-Man or the Lone Ranger, Captain Action first came to comics in 1968 from DC and then was revived in 2008 at Moonstone in a modern updating.
The basic premise from the previous series was that Captain Action is a spy who takes other identities, complete with super powers (much like the doll would dress up as/turn into various super heroes). He was fighting an alien invasion.
Codename: Action will be going back to the original 60s Cold War setting and acting as a bridge between the old pulp heroes, like the Green Hornet, Spider and Operator 5, and the 007-set of espionage heroes that replaced them… with some of the Project Superpowers characters thrown in. Does this make Codename: Action a crossover? Maybe. It sounds a bit more like guest-stars than crossover series, though.
The comic will be written by Chris Roberson, who recently wrote several of the pulp characters in the Masks mini-series. Perhaps more relevant to this series, though, Roberson also wrote some very ’60s spy-themed Cinderella comics as a Fables spin-off for Vertigo. He’s no stranger to the genre and its tropes. Jonathan Lau is on the art. Lau’s been at Dynamite a few years, notably on the Kevin Smith Green Hornet and Bionic Man books.
Official PR and some art follow:
CODENAME: ACTION FROM DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
UNITES SUPER-SPY CAPTAIN ACTION WITH BELOVED PULP HEROES
June 11, 2013, Mt. Laurel, NJ – Dynamite Entertainment, in conjunction with Captain Action Enterprises, proudly announces the September launch of CODENAME: ACTION, a six-issue comic book event that unites the ultimate super-spy, Captain Action, with classic pulp heroes including Green Hornet, Kato, the Spider, and Black Venus. Written by Chris Roberson (Masks, Superman) and featuring artwork by Jonathan Lau (Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet), the debut #1 issues will include variant covers by accomplished illustrators Jae Lee, Francesco Francavilla, Jonathan Lau, Johnny Desjardins, and Art Balthazar.
CODENAME: ACTION takes place during the Cold War, as unknown forces scheme to heat up the global conflict. When key officials on both sides of the Iron Curtain are replaced with doppelgangers, the infiltration threatens to disrupt the precarious state of world affairs… until one young secret agent shapes the world’s masked heroes into a force with singular purpose and unyielding resolve!
“CODENAME: ACTION is a showcase of the things I love about jet-age superspies and Cold War-era superheroics,” says the World Fantasy Award-nominated author, Chris Roberson. “In part, it functions as an origin story for Captain Action, reintroducing him to a modern audience while at the same time setting him firmly in the period in which the character first appeared. Captain Action was a product of the time that gave us the James Bond films, and TV shows like Man From UNCLE and The Prisoner, and CODENAME: ACTION is very much an attempt to put the character in that kind of context.
“Roberson, hot off of his stint as writer for the bestselling Masks series, knows how best to balance a handful of fan-favorite and highly independent characters. “The main focus of the attention is on the spy and espionage characters like Operator 5, Black Venus, and Operative 1001 (the man who will become Captain Action). Along the way, our heroes will encounter various masked heroes and vigilantes, like American Crusader, Green Hornet, and Kato. It’s been an organic process, as I find the best places to fill in supporting or ‘guest star’ roles.”
Jonathan Lau, whose spirited artwork graced the pages of Dynamite titles Green Hornet and Black Terror, looks forward to drawing so many spies and superheroes with great enthusiasm. “I’m excited! Captain Action is sort of like Nick Fury, and there’s a dynamism in laying out the Green Hornet/Kato duo, especially when it comes to Kato making big motions to convey action. The American Crusader is another character I enjoy drawing again (after his appearance in Black Terror), since he’s the muscle of this series, and it’s always fun to draw super-powered beings doing super stuff.”
In a joint statement, Ed Catto and Joe Ahearn of licensor Captain Action Enterprises gave a shining endorsement: “We’re big comic, spy and pulp fans, so it’s a thrill to see all those characters in one adventure together. And we’re also big Chris Roberson fans from his work on iZombie and Monkeybrain Comics. Captain Action is a spy, and impersonating others (especially superheroes) is an important part of what’s he all about… so to start the Captain’s adventures with heroes like the Green Hornet and Kato makes all the sense in the world. We’re also honored that the baton was passed to Captain Action as he’s center stage in this mini-series. Like a young quarterback given the opportunity to play in the big game, it’s both daunting and terribly exciting!”
CODENAME: ACTION #1 is solicited in the Diamond July Previews catalog for release in September. Dynamite has welcomed a talented pool of artists, including award winners and fan-favorites, to provide a selection of cover variants for readers to enjoy. Shipping to retailers in an equal ratio of cover variants, CODENAME: ACTION #1 features five covers, one each from Jae Lee, Francesco Francavilla, Jonathan Lau, and Johnny Desjardins, plus a special “Captain Action Spy Cover” design edition. Dynamite will also produce a sixth, Subscription-Only “Cute” variant featuring artwork by Art Balthazar (Tiny Titans), limited only to retailer initial orders as a reward for dedicated Dynamite fans.”
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.