IDW Publishing 2016
Written by John Barber
Illustrated by Paolo Villanelli
Coloured by Joana Lafuente
Lettered by Neil Uyetake
Maybe it’s just me but this feels less like a British G.I. Joe and more like James Bond Jr. Either way i’m totally into it. I get it’s a separate agency from MI-6 and the like and they’ve got Doctor X as their main nemesis and work on a more global scale so it has the blended effect of the two for me. Last issue we saw how the mantle was passed on to the newest man to hold the Action Man title and this issue continues his story.
John does a nice job fleshing the cast out more this issue. Whether it’s how Ian behaves and how that behaviour is seen or be it the supporting casts own issues surrounding the nature of their work we get to see a better picture of the dynamic between them all. With all of them the only one that raises red flags is Agent Salmons and that’s because you can tell he’s angry that Ian got the job when i’m sure he feels he would be better suited to have taken the role on himself. Hopefully this is just a case of hurt feelings and won’t turn into something nastier or traitor in their midst because that, along with the angry man routine is a bit cliche.
I think Ian is a great choice for the Action Man role he’s young, malleable and intelligent in the right ways to really soak up what he needs to learn for this job. It also doesn’t hurt that he looks like he fits the role as well, please don’t let Salmons get on that kick too much either. Plus the opening which shows him four years ago discovering the base of operations well that’s just another example of the brash cocky confidence he has and why he’s good for the role. It also shows a skill that will come in handy throughout his adventures unless I miss my guess.
There really is something fun about watching basically a kid coming into his own in a legacy role. There’s a definite learning curve and he idolized his friend and predecor and emulates him as much as possible but in doing so he’s also proving that he has so much more to learn. Teamwork in situations or an organization like this is essential and that John can demonstrate that while the role is his and he has so much room for growth at the same time is a nice bit of characterization.
Paolo and Joana do some nice work on the interiors here. I like the whole current comic action/adventure style they bring to the series. It has all the right elements for the subject matter and their use of technology is right inline with what should be seen as available today. The Action Man suit is great and streamlined to be both effective and practical without going over the edge of superhero. The way the book flows through the pages and panels is well done. While i’m a firm believer that backgrounds paint the bigger picture in terms of mood and tone they have a really nice style here focusing on the characters. Though more use of backgrounds wouldn’t hurt.
This is a solid story that utilizes the genres extremely well. It’s got the interpersonal drama, the action and the intrigue to make it highly enjoyable and a fun read. With the success of Bond and Bourne Action Man is a welcome addition to the world stage.