Action Man, not a name terribly familiar to us in North America but to many British children of the late 60’s and beyond it was THE action figure toy line. UK toy maker Palitoy licensed the original 12″ GI Joe toy soldier and re-branded the line as Action Man. When GI Joe went 3 3/4″ in the 80’s Action Man shrunk down as well.
IDW is taking the Action Man concept and putting a more James Bond flair to the character. So much so that issue #1 opens on a panel showing the famous British Secret Intelligence Service headquarters featured so often in the recent Daniel Craig films. The parallels between that more famous British Super Spy and Ian “Action Man” Noble are easy to make, heck I have already three times in this short review. Told through flash backs we see that Ian is not the first person to hold the mantle of Action Man. We are also introduced to the supporting cast. Director Bestley as the tough boss that has a heart of gold. Bryce, the nerdy Quartermaster and Ian’s provider of spy gadgets. Agent Salmons, the runner up with a chip on his shoulder and out to prove Ian is not the right man for the job. And Agent Gale, potential love interest and a peer for Ian to look to for support in his new role as Action Man.
Clichéd but you know what? They pull it off. Writer John Barber balances the obligatory issue #1 introductions with just enough characterization that you are invested in trying out issue #2. Relatively new artist Chris Evenhuis provides a clean yet distinctive style to the page that is far better than you would expect from someone with only 20 comic book art credits under their belt.
The story might be familiar but the promise of a fun payoff is there. I will be adding Action Man to my pull list at my local comic shop. And the vintage Action Man figure photo variant cover is fantastic!
Title: Action Man #1 | Publisher: IDW
Writer: John Barber | Artist: Paolo Villanelli | Cover Artist: Chris Evenhuis