| Captain Action (1968)
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Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: Oct/Nov 1968 - Jun/Jul 1969
Country: United States
Though it lasted for a mere five issues, Captain Action was a bit of a milestone in American comics publishing. It was the first super-hero comic book to be based on an action figure. Coming from the mind of Stan Weston, the creator of GI Joe, Captain Action was meant to be a competitor with his own, earlier creation. In theory, Captain Action would've put Weston's Leisure Concepts in control of both the most popular action figure of the day and its main rival.
After the line had been in production for almost two years, DC licensed the character from Leisure to produce this comic book. They made an honest go of the title, assigning top talent like Wally Wod, Gil Kane and Jim Shooter to the book. However, they had perhaps come to the game after initial interest in the toy was fading.
The idea behind the action figure had become somewhat confused. At first the notion was that Captain Action figure, although bearing an identity and costume of his own, could impersonate several different popular super-heroes by changing into one of the included costumes—most notably, perhaps, those of Spider-Man and Superman. However, as the line continued, there was more of an effort to create a whole world for the Captain Action persona, and so a sidekick (Action Boy) and main villain (Dr. Evil) were created. Since this emphasis shift came long before this comic book or any other media tie-ins, the intent of the character failed to come across clearly.
More to the point, the comic book could not really back up the original idea of the character. Since DC obviously had no ability to include Spider-Man and other non-DC heroes, they couldn't write stories to explain why early action figure sets allowed Captain Action to change his guise into Marvel characters.
Indeed, the comic book entirely abandoned the notion of the Captain changing at all. Rather, they posited that the Captain had five magical coins, each of which imparted a different super power. The connection Leisure was hoping to establish between comic and toy was thus never possible.
Not that it mattered, much. In point of fact, the toy ceased production at or before the publication of issue #1, anyway.
Nevertheless, for two short years, Captain Action was a major toy fad in the US. And he managed to pre-figure the modern phenomenon of the action figure market. Among serious collectors, Captain Action is today quite fondly remembered; the Captain Action/Spiderman mint-in-box toy has even been listed by ToyFare as the most valuable action figure on the market.
Number of issues cataloged: 5