Action Man #1 Review


ACTION MAN IS DEAD — LONG LIVE ACTION MAN! He’s the world’s greatest special agent… until he dies saving the planet, with all the world’s eyes on him. Now his young protégé has to step into the role — whether he’s ready or not!

Action Man #1
Written by John Barber
Art by Paolo Villanelli
Colored by John-Paul Bove
Published by IDW Publishing

Imagine an individual that is a fusion between Nick Fury, Jason Bourne, and James Bond; the result is the secret agent/superhero Action Man. Writer John Barber (Transformers, Back to the Future, Revolution) and illustrator Paolo Villanelli (GI Joe: A Real American Hero, Dark Souls, Squadron Supreme) come together to give comic book fans the modern version greatest secret agent alive in the series Action Man.

One of the biggest ideas in being a superhero is filling the role of a great legacy. Dick Grayson had to fill the shoes of Bruce Wayne as Batman, Wally West had to run faster than ever in honoring the memory of Barry Allen as The Flash, and even Sam Wilson is continuously comparing himself to legacy Steve Rogers left behind as Captain America.

Now, the former lab technician/field agent Ian Noble, who was with the previous Action Man at the time of his death has filled in the shoes of being Action Man. The issue starts off with a prologue.

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Action Man has been sent to rescue Ian and disarm a doomsday device set up by the evil Doctor X. Action Man realizes that the only way to destroy the doomsday device is to launch it with himself in it. Before he departs the world, he tells Ian that it is up to him to live up to the legacy and become the new Action Man.

Once the prologue ends, the story travels back to present day where the new Action Man (Ian Noble) is trying to infiltrate a train and disarm a dirty bomb that has the capabilities to destroy all of England. Noble succeeds in his mission but not without causing a PR scare, not only does Noble complete this task with a lot of collateral damage, but he puts civilians lives at risks and makes his team, and superiors wonder if placing him as the new Action Man was the right decision.

Action Man opened up with a bang and continued throughout the first part of the issue. Not only do readers witness the world being saved, but the world has been saved twice through the first 12 pages of the story. Barber does an excellent job of making the reader care about Ian Noble. Because like Noble, every human has had a time in their life where they feel that even when they are doing their best, the success humans worked for is not always the one they wanted.

Villanelli is flexing his artistic abilities throughout this story. The fight scenes, the explosions, even the character’s facial expressions are drawn so precise that it feels more like a short film and not a comic book.

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The second part of the issue is not as fast paced but still has the same lasting effect on the reader. Conner is back at headquarters with his team, and he’s doing physical training to become a better fighter. His sparring partner, Agent Salmons determines that he was not fit to carry on the legacy of Action Man and that he’d be better suited for the role.

Next, he meets up with Director Bestley who gives Conner a history lesson about the legacy of the Action Man role. How the greatest heroes in all of England have held the mantle at same point spanning back centuries.

She also lets Conner know that someone who once worked for the Action Man program had gone rogue and is now actively working to bring the world to its knees.

The result of this history lesson is that Conner is sent on a mission to infiltrate a highly secured facility and extract files from the central database. However, when Conner hears whispers about the man who may have the original Action Man’s death, he immediately goes out in open guns blazing at the opposition.

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The Bottom Line: Even though Action Man is only one issue in, a reader could feel like this story had been going on for years. The characters, the setting, the villains all seem very familiar instead of being original creations. John Barber did an excellent job scribing while Villanelli was sensational with the artwork. Also, seeing how this issue ended, issue two is going to be even better.