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Action Man (comics)

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Action Man
Final issue of Action Man, published by Panini Comics in 2006
Publication information
PublisherPanini Comics, Marvel UK
ScheduleEvery three weeks
FormatOngoing series
Publication date1996 – January 2006
No. of issues138
Creative team
Written by
  • John Ross (2003, 2005)
  • Martin Griffiths (2004)
Letterer(s)Nicholas Norman (2003), Alex Foot (2005), James Clarkson (2004)
Colorist(s)Alan Craddock (2003), Junior Tomlin (2004-5)
Editor(s)Ed Caruana

Action Man was a UK comic book series published by Panini Comics, based on the toy line of the same name. It ran for 138 issues between 1996 and January 18, 2006 before being surpassed by spin-off series Action Man: A.T.O.M.. The comic was originally published every month, but this was later changed to every three weeks. The final editor was Ed Caruana, with previous editors including Rob Jones.


The comic strip was the main feature for each issue. Initially, the stories in each issue featured little to no continuity between them. However, as the comic progressed, full story arcs would become more prominent. Many different characters were introduced over the comic's course. The comic always focused on Action Man's efforts to thwart the evil plans of his arch enemy, the mad scientist Dr.X, and his 'Council of Doom'. The first strip featured in the comic was named "Into Action".[1]

2003 arc[edit]

2003 introduced the fictional 'Island X', an X-shaped island which was the home of Dr. X and the Council of Doom. This would become the setting for many stories for years to come. The plot focused on Dr. X building a huge 'Death Ray' on Island X which he would use to destroy capital cities across the world unless he was made world leader. Action Man had to explore Island X in his quest to find the Doctor_ and they would have several confrontations before their final battle in issue 100. The outcome was shown in the following issue on a giant poster. A new villain named 'Antifreeze' was also introduced in this year as a member of the Council of Doom.

2004 arc[edit]

The 2004 story arc introduced two new Action Force team mates for Action Man; Native American archer, Redwolf, and the Australian extreme sportsman, Flynt. The central plot for this story arc centred on the new villain 'No-Face' creating an army of 'X Robots', built in the late Dr. X's image, to spread terror across the world before later bringing Dr. X back to life as a cyborg and serving as the doctor's primary accomplice from then on. No-Face then kidnapped a scientist named Professor Moran and forced him to make a mind control gas for Dr. X, which could help the doctor achieve his goal of taking over the world. No-Face was a master of disguise who was able to frame Action Man for the kidnapping of Moran. Initially, Professor Moran refused to help the villainous duo, but Dr. X claimed he would blow up every capital city in Europe if Moran didn't help him. The story arc culminated in issue 119, published in November 2004.

The 2004 direct-to-DVD film Action Man: Robot Atak adapted this story arc, with the DVD being given away as a cover gift with the comic.

X-Missions (2005–06 arc)[edit]

The final story arc was entitled 'X-Missions', beginning in issue 120 with the story "Tokyo Terror". This name featured on the cover of each issue during the course of the arc, as well as on the boxes of the action figures released between 2005 and 2006.[2] The plot involved Dr. X harnessing animal DNA and using it to create a 'Terror Toxin' chemical. He planned to use this on innocent people to turn them into a personal army of 'Toxic Troopers'. Some X-Robots were also upgraded to become 'Toxic Robots' which had large blades in place of their hands. Additionally, Action Man had to complete ten deadly missions that Dr. X had set out for him, hence the title of the story arc. A direct to VHS and DVD film titled Action Man: X-Missions - The Movie was also released in 2005 and featured some similar plot elements.

The final story to be printed in the comic was titled "Island of Terror!" and was written by Simon Frith, with art by John Ross.[3]


  • 'Mission Brief' - Introduction providing additional context for the strip
  • Comic Strip
  • Colouring Page
  • Character profiles, features on past stories from the comic etc.
  • Competition - Often for the toy featured in the issue's strip. Other competition prizes included video games and DVDs.
  • Puzzles
  • Posters - A giant pull-out poster in the centre of the comic and occasional back cover poster.
  • Letters Page - Featured reader letters and artwork, with the prize of a free action figure being awarded to each issue's 'star letter'. This section had various character-themed names over the comic's course including 'Action Stations', 'Gangrene's Gunk Mail', 'Antifreezes Cool Mail' and 'Dr X's Hate Mail'.


Panini Comics began publishing Action Man in 1996, with the Marvel Comics logo being featured on the cover for the first few years of publication.[4] Panini had obtained the Marvel UK licence in 1995, with Marvel UK having themselves previously published an Action Force comic during the 1980s. In addition to the regular monthly issues, Panini would occasionally publish additional issues, including a Christmas Special in 2000.[5] After ten years and 138 issues, the Panini series ceased publication in 2006. It was subsequently replaced by a spin-off title, Action Man: A.T.O.M., published by Panini in as a tie-in with Hasbro's recently-launched A.T.O.M. toy line. Simon Furman was the primary writer for this new series.[6]

Collected editions[edit]

In 2001, Egmont Books published a series of books each containing two strips from random issues of the comic, priced at £1.99 each. A poster would typically also be included. Published titles included the following:

  • Action Man: Extreme Adventures ['Demolition Derby'; 'Armed and Dangerous!'] (ISBN 0-7497-4619-X)
  • Action Man: X Hunter ['Smash 'n' Grab'; 'Rumble in the Jungle'] (ISBN 0-7497-4622-X)

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ 'Island of Terror', Action Man, Panini Comics, issue 138, 18 January 2006, page 7.
  4. ^[permanent dead link] Cover of Issue 15 (November 1997) featuring the Marvel Comics logo in the top left corner.
  5. ^ "Action Man Comic Christmas Special 2000". Action Man Dossier. 10 August 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  6. ^ Action Man: A.T.O.M., Panini Comics, issue 8, 5 July 2006, page 5.

External links[edit]

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