Captain Action was a doll-sized action figure who debuted in 1966. The gimmick was that kids could purchase the costumes of various comic book & pulp heroes (Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, the Lone Ranger, Flash Gordon, etc) and dress up the Captain Action figure in them, transforming him into different characters. There was also Action Boy, the teenage sidekick to Captain Action, and Dr. Evil, a blue-skinned alien with an exposed brain. DC Comics published a short-lived Captain Action series in 1968, with artwork by Wally Wood and Gil Kane. Four decades later, in 2008, Moonstone Books began publishing a revival of Captain Action. And in 2010 TwoMorrows Publishing released Captain Action: the Original Super Hero Action Figure, an oversized hardcover volume by Michael Eury.
Action Cat is the creation of Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, the duo who have previously brought us such fun comic books as Tiny Titans and Itty Bitty Hellboy. The super-powered feline Action Cat and his partner Action Bug hail from beautiful downtown Skoakie, Illinois. They star in the adorable, humorous self-published series Aw Yeah Comics.
You may well ask, what does one have to do with the other? Well, put Captain Action and Action Cat together, with Art, Franco and co-writer Chris “Zod” Smits at the helm, and you get Captain Action Cat: The Timestream Catastrophe. Published by Dynamite Entertainment in collaboration with Aw Yeah Comics and Dark Horse, the four issue Captain Action Cat miniseries is one of the most offbeat, irreverent, undeniably cute team-up comic books of all time.
Action Cat’s arch nemesis, the fiendish Evil Cat, utilizes his “Evil Timestream Device” to search through the myriad parallel universes for a like-minded ally. He discovers Dr. Evil Cat, a villain from the Silver Age who is the enemy of Captain Action Cat, an alternate reality kitty counterpart to the human Captain Action. Along the way Captain Action Cat encounters the Golden Age Action Cat, who is across between Batman and Captain America (he wears a utility belt and he’s discovered frozen in an iceberg).
Evil Cat tries to snag Dr. Evil Cat with the Device, but the beam goes wild, bringing together the inhabitants of numerous other universes. Soon Captain Action Cat, Golden Age Action Cat and Dr. Evil Cat encounter the human Captain Action and Lady Action, the vigilantes Ghost, X, Skyman and Captain Midnight from the Modern Age (courtesy of Dark Horse) and the supernatural guardian known as the Phantom Lemur. And back in beautiful downtown Skoakie, Modern Day Action Cat and Action Bug are attempting to stop Evil Cat and his Device before all of reality gets turned into Swiss cheese. Next thing you know, everyone comes together for a final time-crossed titanic tussle.
And, um, that’s more or less it for plot. Really, this isn’t exactly War and Peace, y’know? Captain Action Cat is a fun, charming miniseries that younger readers will no doubt enjoy, and adults will find more than a bit amusing. The story by Balthazar, Franco and Smits is a chance to humorously throw a whole bunch of disparate concepts together for the sake of having some fun and generating a bunch of laughs. Balthazar’s artwork is, as always, just too darn cute. There are also a few fun pin-ups and back-up shorts by Franco, Scoot McMahon and Kurt Wood in the third and fourth issues.
I suppose if you like cats then Captain Action Cat is also a recommended read. After all, ever since Michele and I adopted Nettie and Squeaky several years ago, I’ve become crazy about all things feline. (Right now, as I’m typing this blog post, I’m sitting on the edge of my chair, because Nettie is taking up the rest of it, and she won’t move. Yeah, that’s a cat for you.)
By the way, a heads up to parents with young kids: Dynamite’s marketing department must have been asleep at the wheel in a major way when Captain Action Cat #1 was put together, because the back cover features an advertisement for the dark fantasy series The Blood Queen, with the title character displaying her cavernous cleavage in all its glory. As they say, there’s a time & place for everything, but I don’t think this was it. At least the next three issues of Captain Action Cat contain somewhat more appropriate ads. Did you know that Dynamite is publishing Doodle Jump and Bob’s Burgers? Hopefully when those two series come out Dynamite won’t be running ads in them promoting Vampirella or Purgatori!
For those who missed Captain Action Cat when it first came out, all four issues can be purchased on the Aw Yeah Comics website, along with many other fine products by Art, Franco and the rest of the gang. So go check ‘em out!