Exclusive: Chris Roberson takes Captain Action out of the toy box, ready for action in new mini-series



Remember those great Captain Action figures of the mid-1960s? Along with G.I. Joe, these figures of a hero who solved crimes by taking on the identities of other heroes – everyone from Superman and Batman to Steve Canyon and the Lone Ranger – were the greatest toys I ever had.

Fast-forward to the 21st Century as Dynamite Entertainment, in conjunction with Captain Action Enterprises, announces the coming of a six-issue comic book event, Codename: Action, that unites the hero Captain Action with classic pulp heroes (Green Hornet, Kato, Black Venus) by writer Chris Roberson (Masks, Superman) and Jonathan Lau (Green Hornet).

Not to be outdone, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer jumped on this one out of the gate and is exclusively riding it home, so to speak, with this filed interview with the comic book’s scribe.

Cosmic Book News: Chris, Captain Action was my favorite toy during the 1960s. How if in any way does your Captain differ from the jet-age swashbuckler?

Chris Roberson: One of the things I find fascinating about the toys of the sixties and seventies is that they were, by and large, characters without stories. Kids would be presented with an action figure, whether it be Captain Action, or GI Joe, or Big Jim, and given just the barest of details about them. Who they were, maybe, and what they did. But it was up to the kids to fill in the blanks, and make up their own stories. It was a nascent form of role playing, I’d argue. So what we’ve done with Codename: Action is go back to the original character briefs that were provided with the Captain Action toys, and used that as a framework to build our story. Not a million miles from the kinds of things I did when I was a kid playing with my own action figures!

CBN: Tell us about the mission of Captain Action in this six-issue series.

Chris Roberson: The man who will one day be known as Captain Action is introduced to us as “Operative 1001,” a secret agent working for a clandestine U.S. intelligence agency. He and a veteran agent, Operator 5, are tasked with discovering who has been secretly replacing world leaders with identical doppelgangers, apparently with the intent of fomenting a new world war. 

CBN: I know there have been attempts before, but will you try to establish a definitive origin for him?

Chris Roberson: Yes, this mini-series is intended to serve as an origin story of sorts for Captain Action, while also being a standalone adventure in its own right. 

CBN: Does this iteration of the Captain have any powers? Will he himself be masquerading as heroes as in the old days?

Chris Roberson: He won’t have powers, as such, but don’t be surprised to see him donning a few disguises along the way. 

CBN: Speaking of masked heroes, how will Cap become involved with those period heroes like Green Hornet, Kato, etc.? To what end?

Chris Roberson: The focus of this story is on the spy characters like Operator 5, Operative 1001, and Black Venus, but as the events unfold other characters will be drawn into the action. To say too much more than that would spoil things! 

CBN: If Cap is in the age of his creation, will we see any Cold War hijinks behind the Iron Curtain?

Chris Roberson: Just maybe! 

CBN: In all this adventure, will we catch a glimpse of Action Boy or Doctor Evil?

Chris Roberson: Reply hazy, ask again later! 

CBN: Wow, Chris! Magic 8-Ball is even older than Captain Action! (laughs) Now … Do you have any past experiences with Captain Action the toy or the comic book hero?

Chris Roberson: I was a little too young to enjoy the toy the first time around, but I was introduced to him by an article in an early issue of Amazing Heroes, and went hunting for back issues of the Gil Kane comic. Because, really, you can’t beat Gil Kane. Now, all these years later, and thanks to the generosity of Ed Catto, I finally have Captain Action and Doctor Evil figures on my shelf!

CBN: Doctor Evil?? We may have to talk about figure trading later … So, what does Jonathan Lau bring to this “event”?

Chris Roberson: I’ve only seen a handful of Jonathan’s pages so far, but they look fantastic! 

CBN: Chris, any projects current or future you’d like to discuss?

Chris Roberson: The first collection of Edison Rex, the digital first series that Dennis Culver and I are doing through Monkeybrain Comics, will be in stores soon in a trade paperback printed by IDW. And not too long after that the first two issues of The Mysterious Strangers, the Oni series that I’m doing with Scott Kowalchuk, will be in shops. (And the first issue is currently free for download on comiXology!) Other than that, I’m hard at work on The Shadow for Dynamite, as well as another project that hasn’t yet been announced that I am INCREDIBLY excited about!

Cosmic Book News wishes to thank Chris Roberson for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our nosy M.E. In addition, CBN also wishes to thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.

“Captain Action” #1 (of 6) hits shelves in September!