Friday, November 14, 2008

The Long, Difficult Task Of Recycling My Old Ideas

So every so often, I think to myself, "Hey! Remember that 'Captain Action' open submissions call that Moonstone Books put out? Although my idea didn't win, being beaten out by longtime industry veteran Fabian Nicieza, I thought it was a pretty good concept. I should put the pitch up on my blog."

And then I can never find it on my hard drive, and I give up. So today, I'm not giving up! Today, you will hear about my idea for Captain Action: The Comic!

Obviously, this is based on the classic Captain Action toy from the 1960s, which was a superhero action figure that you could buy additional outfits for, with each outfit being the outfit of another superhero. So you'd buy the one figure, but you could make him look like Batman, Superman, the Lone Ranger, Aquaman, Buck Rogers...

I took this idea and ran with it for my series pitch. The idea was that it was set in a "developed" comics universe, one with lots of existing superheroes and supervillains, and that there was kind of a social connection between the superheroes. If you proved yourself, you were accepted into the superhero "community". And if you really proved yourself, you were put in touch with the superheroes' secret weapon--Captain Action. Nobody knew who he really was, but he was a master of disguise so brilliant that he could impersonate any superhero, powers and all.

Each issue would be a sort of superhero version of Mission: Impossible combined with the Unknown Soldier. One of the characters would be Captain Action, but the readers wouldn't necessarily know any more than the characters. Always, he'd have to impersonate his target flawlessly, lest he give away his own existence to the supervillain community. (One sample plot involved him having to impersonate a Superman-type hero in order to foil a death-trap that takes advantage of that hero's specific weaknesses...not only does he have to survive it, but he has to do so in a way that doesn't reveal that he's not that other hero.)

With each story, a few tiny clues as to Captain Action's real identity would be revealed, until about five years in, the readers would learn the truth: He's actually the future self of this world's most nefarious supervillain, a Doctor Doom/Lex Luthor megalomaniac who's constantly trying to rule the world. In the future, he would have tried to blackmail the world with a device that could shift the Earth out of its orbit...but in the resultant battle with Earth's heroes, he wound up actually using it, sending Earth spinning into space. In the slow, bitter apocalypse of the Earth's cooling off that followed, he realized the folly of his ways and spent his time as the last survivor building a time machine to undo his mistake by helping the heroes out.

That's not the whole thing, of course; I actually had about ten paragraphs describing sample plots, various scenarios that I thought would highlight the possibilities of a hero who could be anyone. But it was a while ago, and my memory's not perfect. This should give you the gist, though.


Justin said...

That's actually a pretty neat way to work in the whole one-man-many-heroes thing of the toy. Would the superheroes in the comic have been strict analogues of the suits the original toy had, or would it have been more open?

I had no idea Moonstone had put out an open submission call; I wish I could have submitted something, but I guess it's unlikely they would've picked me over a guy who used to write X-Men. Does Nicieza's version use the disguise aspect?

I actually had a Captain Action growing up. I was born in '84, but my dad let me play with his from when he was a kid, and he also gave me his old 12" GI Joes, so they went together in my mind; I'd play a WWII adventure, and there just happened to be a superhero who helped the soldiers out.

I seem to remember thinking Captain Action had some kind of vague nautical theme because of the hat and maybe that jagged knife. My dad's CA also had a missing hand, so I think I worked it in that his hand had been eaten by a shark (pre Peter David on Aquaman!)

It's probably best that I didn't get to write that comic and infuse it with my six-year-old boy continuity.

Kyle White said...

This is like a much better version of that Walter Melon cartoon (it was about temping for action heroes).

Anonymous said...

Certainly an interesting pitch. I'd be curious to see the story unfold. Thanks for sharing.