- Posted by Johanna on September 17, 2009 at 4:34 pm
- Category: Books and Prose, KC
- CREDITS: by Michael Eury
- PUBLISHER: TwoMorrows Publishing; $39.95 US
Review by KC Carlson
Originally published by TwoMorrows in 2002 (and quickly sold out), Michael Eury’s incredibly thorough Captain Action: The Original Super-Hero Action Figure has recently returned to press — now in hardcover, notably updated, in color on glossy paper!
Originally introduced in 1966 as a spin-off of the Batman craze, Captain Action was the first action figure, able to assume the identities of 13 well-known superheroes (assuming you bought the special add-on outfits and accessories). Later, in 1968, the character — without the ability to become other heroes — was developed into comic book form by DC Comics. Both of these were short-lived initially, but Captain Action rapidly became the cult toy for several generations of collectors and fans, leading to recent revivals of both comic and toy. This book offers the complete history of the toy and its development and an examination of the character in comic books.
This new hardcover book is quite spiffy, with virtually all of the previously black-and-white photographs and artwork now in glossy full color — much improved over the slightly muddy reproduction of the color sections in the original book. This new printing also improves on the overall production quality of the book, as the pages now pop and shine, and previously overlooked details (like the watermarked background art) are much more legible. Many of the original photographs have been reshot for color (and more dynamic poses!), and plenty of new photos added of original product releases and packaging. New information covers technical drawings and designs of previously unknown and unproduced toys like Weapon Firing Captain Magic and Talking Caption Action. In fact, there’s so much new stuff (there are now over 200 toy photos), a few illustrations from the first edition — mostly comic book illos of some of the heroes that Captain Action turned into — had to be dropped or turned into watermarks for this new edition. Trust me, you won’t even notice they’re gone.
There’s still plenty of great artwork here, much of it originally unpublished designs and package artwork by the great Murphy Anderson, who also writes the Foreword of the book. There’s also much information on Captain Action in comic books, first at DC Comics in 1968 by Jim Shooter, Wally Wood, and Gil Kane (which is thoroughly discussed in my favorite chapter of the book), then with up-to-the-minute coverage of the current Captain Action revival in a brand new chapter. Also included is information on Captain Action peripherals — mostly vehicles and weapons — and the little known (at least by me) “Super Queens” line featuring Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, and Mera.
There’s also an Afterword by longtime Captain Action foe Dr. Evil which I just read… and am now compelled to demand that TwoMorrows also publish an equally beautiful book devoted exclusively to Dr. Evil! Bwah Hah Hah!
(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by Dr. Evil.)