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Action Man #1 Review

Written by Writrzblok on Monday, June 27 2016 and posted in Reviews

Action Man #1 Review

The Brits's top git just won't quit.

Source: IDW Publishing

Action Man #1


Written by John Barber

Art by Paolo Villanelli and Chris Evenhuis

Colors by John-Paul Bove

Letters by Neil Uyetake and Shawn Lee

Published by IDW Publishing


We open on a routine mission to stop the nefarious Doctor X [doctorates in both mad science and not appearing in this issue] from unleashing a Doomsday rocket that could end the world, and The Prime Minister waits with bated breath as the United Kingdom's top agent Action Man goes in to save the day. Along the way, he rescues Ian, a young tech agent who stumbled onto Doctor X's plot when infiltrating his secret base. Unfortunately, circumstances cause Action Man to sacrifice himself to save the world. When the public discovers that Ian survived the ordeal, he is dubbed the new Action Man, much to the chagrin of his superiors and peers. Action Man is dead. Long Live Action Man!

England's one-man answer to G.I. Joe, Action Man returns to service just in time for its fiftieth anniversary. Created by Hasbro in 1966, the Action Man line of action figures has long been a staple of British youth. A master of every form of combat, a communications expert, astronaut, Action Man is an all-around badass Brit. It's too bad that he dies and we're made to follow a watered-down version of Eggsy from Kingsman.

Ian, our lead, is an upstart young man who, according to Agency head Bestley, "has dreams above his station." That in and of itself is not a bad thing, we need a protagonist to follow and watch develop over the course of a story. But so far, all Ian's shown is a lackadaisical snark to try and hide the fact that he's punching far above his weight class. It doesn't help that seemingly no one in the agency believes in him or thinks he's capable of filling the shoes of his predecessor. Snide comments of "The real Action Man would've" and "your predecessor would've known what to do" could seem like tough love, but it strains credibility that, public relations or not, they'd have had this kid become Action Man in the first place.

It becomes clear at the end of the issue when faced with infiltrating a hostage situation not to save hostages, but to retrieve vital information, that Ian has a different idea from his handlers on who and what Action Man is. It's evident he's racked with guilt over the previous hero's death and that helps to drive him forward, but mainly he's a good kid who wants to do the right thing. It's good enough characterization to start out with, but hopefully he'll be more fleshed out as the series progresses.

The same cannot be said, unfortunately, of the rest of the supporting players as they've been neatly packaged into designated boxes in an orderly, orthodox manner. Salmons is the big, super competent rival agent who was passed over to be Action Man when Ian lucked into it. Agent Mercy Gale is the potential love-interest/lone voice of encouragement. Bestley is the hard-nosed, hard-ass "Chief" and Agent Chan is the nerdy, friend who happens to be slightly Q-ish. The characters basically fill all of their predetermined roles, no more no less. Perhaps more depth will come in later issues, but as it stands, they're all about as shallow as a mud puddle.

The art style by Paolo Villanelli is very bright, smooth and lends itself to the action and expressions of the characters. It reminds me of the TV show Archer in which the lines are incredibly well-defined and makes everything clear, visible and easy to follow.

It also has a Saturday morning cartoon feel to it in terms of the action itself. The differing styles between Ian and his predecessor are marked in how everyone else reacts. With the previous Action Man, Bestley was calm, cool, in control and very proper. But with Ian as the new Action Man, the workplace becomes a bit more stressful as suddenly the weight of England, as well as the entire world, falls onto the shoulders of a spiky haired git who's in so far over his head he doesn't know which way is up.

The overall plot hasn't really gotten started, but there's shades of one in Ian trying to find the mysterious Doctor X. Which you'd think British intelligence would be all over, but they seem to buy the notion that he's dead, which is funny because many times the book has typical homages to typical James Bond spy stuff. The techie best friend, gadgets that work on "shut up," trying to be discreet but ending up causing a massive public relations headache for the higher-ups. Perhaps my favorite bit is a flashback to school where a brazen Ian ponders the relevancy of train schedule questions (you know the ones from our childhoods that used to drive us nuts) and suddenly we smash cut to Ian hanging onto the side of a speeding commuter train carrying a dirty bomb on a collision course with a petrol train. Bollocks, indeed.

Overall, I vote Remain on Action Man #1 because for all its faults of light characterization and even lighter plot, it's still fun with a bit of cheeky humor to keep one from being too bored.


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About the Author - Writrzblok

Jeff Gwinnup/Writrzblok is a comic book-loving, movie-watching, mac-and-cheese devouring Florida-born nerd who would like to write for a living one day. That is, if the inanities and stress of modern living don't kill him first. He's been reviewing/critiquing in either print or video form for almost seven years and shows no signs of stop- Wait, why is he writing in the third person? Who's typing this? WHO IS THIS?! GET AWAY FROM THAT KEYBOARD!
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