A while back, Moonstone posted a call for proposals to revamp the classic action figure Captain Action in a comic book series. Many people gave it a shot, but in the end they’ve decided to go with Fabian Nicieza.
I was one of the many non-professionals who sent in a proposal. Sure, it was a lark, and it didn’t pan out. But I figured it was worth a shot.
And, since it would never see the light of day otherwise, I’ve decided to share my rejected revamp proposal with you!
Captain Action Proposal– Tom Russell
WHO IS CAPTAIN ACTION?
We all know who Captain Action is– he’s the hero
that can turn into other heroes. But who is he
really? What’s his essence, what’s his personality?
His personality is in a constant state of flux.
He’s forever becoming other people. Not just adapting
their powers, their costumes, and their appearances,
but actually becoming them. Their personalities are
his personality, their thoughts his thoughts.
The man we call Captain Action has no sense of
identity other than those he chooses; each day, he
defines himself anew, not only in a battle against
evil and injustice, but also in his own personal quest
THE FIRST STORY
When we first meet him, he has chosen to define
himself not as a hero, but as an ordinary and affable
man with a new job: Harold Kane. He is regular in his
habits and mild in his entertainments: a life that is
strictly regimented, one that clearly defines him and
his place in the world. He is content and stable.
That’s when the office building comes crashing down
around him. Part of him wants to lie down and die, as
people would expect of him. That’s when he acts “out
of character”, that’s when he breaks the role he’s
defined for himself: he frees himself from the rubble
and sets about to rescue an office mate.
Suddenly, a huge beam crashes down. Instinctively,
he transforms into a well-known superhero, holding the
beam up, allowing his co-worker to escape.
She thinks she’s stumbled onto his secret identity.
He wonders if he hasn’t been hiding a double-life
from himself. He enjoys turning into this hero, until
he comes face to face with the real McCoy. He
instantly is transformed into a new form, a form we
recognize as that of Captain Action!
Searching for himself, he can find no proof that
Harold Kane ever existed. The first time anyone heard
of him was when he applied for the job. He soon
discovers that he can not only become any hero he
chooses to, but any person and, indeed, ANYTHING!
CAPTAIN ACTION’S POWERS
The ability to transform is actual a minor tweaking
of reality itself, limited only by his imagination.
He can become an animal or a tree or even the
wind– IF he thinks of it. IF he believes he can do
it. If he has the will power and the ingenuity.
He is, however, not the only force manipulating the
very fabric of existence. There is a malevolent force
that seeks to eradicate free will– and thus any
notion of identity itself. A force that fully
understands its own power, and is not afraid to use
Captain Action is an agent of balance, created
(perhaps by the universe itself?) to counter this
nameless, shifting evil. To stand up for free will,
self-determination, and personality itself.
THEMES OF IDENTITY
Thematically, this approach would open the door to
examine issues of personality, of nature versus
nurture, of who we are, not only as a race, but
individually as well. “What makes me who I am?” is a
question all people have asked at one time or
another… especially during their formative years.
And that’s why I would have Captain Action become a
surrogate father to a teenager: a young girl who is
confused about who she is and searching for her place
in the world.
She could just as easily be a young man, I suppose,
but I’d like to stay away from the whole sidekick
shtick at this point. The benefit of a female
character is that it provides contrast to the
masculine Captain Action and the genderless evil
force; it also emphasizes that this search for
identity is a universal thing.
I would put more emphasis on this theme than on the
basic struggle between Captain Action and the
reality-shifting evil because that would open up more
stories and possibilities.
This time, he’s a big boy scout; this time, he’s a
dark and ruthless vigilante. He’ll find that he’s
capable of any guise, and he wonders which one, if
any, are true.
Perhaps all of them; perhaps every one of us
contains multitudes and are thus slightly schizoid.
For example, there’s the Tom Russell who is writing
this proposal, the Tom Russell who is quiet and
well-mannered at the library, the Tom Russell who is
boistrous with his friends, and the Tom Russell who
dances with his wife. I would explore this idea of
compartmentalized personality, which fits a character
like Captain Action to a “T”.
At the same time, his name _is_ Captain Action, and
storie should provide diverse surface thrills as well.
This time, Captain Action assumes a pulp hero guise,
and so the story’s more pulp; this time, he’s more
campy; here, we have a detective story and here, a
space opera. It opens up a wide range of genres,
moods, and themes to explore, all tied into that
search for identity and the larger tapestry.
THEMES OF IMAGINATION
By having no limit to the kinds of stories we can
tell and emotions we can evoke, it would emphasize
that there is no limit to what Captain Action can do,
save the limitations he imposes on himself. He can
become anything he can conceive of– he can choose to
define himself in anyway he wishes– but first he has
to conceive of it.
And, from a more pragmatic point of view, such an
approach would provide room for many, many stories.
Many months and years and trade paperbacks worth of
stories that would provide for many, many dollars over
It’s also an approach that delivers on the basic
premise– Captain Action becomes other heroes– and
extends it– Captain Action can become anything he can
imagine. And I think that’s a liberating message–
“we can define ourselves, we can choose who and what
we want to be”– one that would resonate with readers
both new and old.
I look forward to hearing from you!