Captain Action #3
Story by Gil Kane
Art by Gil Kane & Wally Wood
And like that, Jim Shooter’s run on Captain Action comes to an end. Amazingly, it’s for the better, as issue #3 of Captain Action is immediately a million times better than the first two issues. While there are some problems with this comic, it’s a stronger overall story and concept. It also greatly reflects a lot of the changes that were going on in the era.
We start off with Captain Action in his regular form, working with son Carl on extracting the power from the magic coins. Incredibly, Professor Arno believes that he can use the powers not just for himself, but the good of all mankind. He’s a nice guy. No wonder Krellik didn’t like him. They’ve borrowed a machine from the famed Dr. Tracy, in hopes of getting some progress.
Meanwhile Dr. Tracy is working on a machine of his that can repair fault lines and prevent earthquakes. It’s a great concept, but just as he thinks his machine might be ready, an earthquake is about to occur! He switches on the machine, but it’s too late. A horrific earthquake strikes California. The first two Captain Action comics were full of a lot of “Golly, gee whiz” and now less than two pages into this one we’ve got babies and children being killed in a natural disaster. We’re through the looking glass here people.
Tracy’s machine has some crazed effect, where it drags him into some trippy world between worlds. His body and mind alter, forever changing him. Some of the language here is pretty deep and world’s apart from the first two issues. This is like some some Kirby-esque concept.
Dr. Tracy is transformed into another being. He then dubs himself, Dr. Evil, because that’s all that fills his heart. He wants to destroy mankind and raise his own beings. He wants to evolve mankind, like he was evolved. Time to turn everyone into a blue skinned freak!
He decides to pose as Dr. Tracy and unleash a series of natural disasters on the planet. He plans to start with California. Presumably because it’s filled with all those folks with loose morals. I’m assuming that’s his thoughts, not mine.
In the earthquake, Clive Arno and son manage to lose NEARLY ALL of the magic coins… Except for two. Three of the most powerful ones merged together (presumably as a result of the experiment that CA was doing on them before the quake) and the other, Mercury’s, is the only bonus one. Remember when I told you they basically retconned the coins? Well yeah, this is it. I get that he probably had too many coins and didn’t need to shoot laser beams, but I do wish they’d been done this slightly differently.
The Captain and Action Boy set out to help in the wreckage of the quake. Thankfully Captain Action gives Action Boy Mercury’s coin, so that he isn’t forced to use chairs. Along the way they realize that a bunch more natural disasters begin happening. California is in a state of chaos!
Action Boy gets put out of commission by some of the disasters, but thankfully he lives. There’s an odd moment here, where Dr. Evil is the one who saves Action Boy. Why would he do that? (Don’t worry there IS an explanation) and Captain Action realizes that these natural disasters aren’t so natural after all. When he’s literally attacked by a rock slide.
He seeks out his friend Dr. Tracy, knowing that perhaps the doctor’s brilliant mind for these sorts of matters might help him figure out who or what is behind this tragedy. Unfortunately the doctor isn’t interested in helping. Instead, he tries to kill Captain Action!
He reveal himself to be Dr. Evil and nearly has the Captain incapacitated, when Captain Action is able to use the power of Zeus and break free. The two begin a battle, but it’s mostly CA beating the stuffing out of Dr. Evil. Despite the not-so-good doctor’s best efforts.
The two slug it out and Dr. Evil goes back and forth between his Tracy look and his blue skinned look. There’s no real explanation to this, but Gil Kane explains in the letters section that he couldn’t come up with an idea he liked. So instead he turns it over to the fans and has a contest of sorts to figure out the story behind that. It’s a neat concept and certainly not something that would fly today.
Dr. Evil escapes, somehow managing to speak from his Dr. Tracy mask. That was a little strange, but kind of creepy. Captain Action retells the story to Action Boy, who is sad, not just because they lost a good ally in Dr. Tracy, but because Dr. Tracy was his grandfather… TWIST! (See, I told you they’d explain why Dr. Evil saved Action Boy!) In the end, this comic is so much more fun than the first two. It tells a cohesive story, it’s much less convoluted and it has some incredible visuals. Gil Kane knocked this one out of the park in his first issue of Captain Action.