Interview: Fabian Nicieza Talks New ‘Captain Action’ Comic
Writer Fabian Nicieza’s career spans over twenty years with stints at Marvel, DC and Darkhorse Comics. During that time he’s plotted, edited and written some of the most popular comic books around including Thunderbolts, Cable and Deadpool and Uncanny X-Men.
Recently, Nicieza competed against many other accomplished writers for the chance to bring one of the most beloved heroes from the ‘60s, Captain Action, back to the pages of a brand-new comic book series set to hit stores later this year. His pitch was selected and he’s now hard at work bringing Captain Action back to life.
ComicMix caught up with Nicieza to ask him a few questions about the Captain Action comic, his earlier work, his future and if a hero created and deeply-rooted in the ‘60s has a place in today’s comics culture.
COMICMIX: For people who might not know, can you give us a bit of info on your background? How did you get started writing comics? What were your favorites growing up?
FABIAN NICIEZA: I grew up reading comics. Out of college, I interviewed at both Marvel and DC, eventually landing a job at Marvel in 1985. After a couple years of learning the ropes, I started selling some stories to editors. I kept writing and working on staff, eventually, reluctantly, becoming a full-time writer.
I grew up reading Batman and Superman, then gravitated towards Marvel — Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Avengers. Then "offbeat" series like Conan and Captain Marvel. Offbeat for an 11 year old, I guess.
I also got lots of Superman, Justice League, the Engelhart/Rogers Detective run. I bought both Marvel and DC through the early ’80s, until I got the job at Marvel, then I got everything for free for a while.
CMix: Free is nice. How much did you know about Captain Action before you started
writing the comic? Did you ever read the original?
FN: I read the original DC comic, but only because the toy was my favorite as a kid. I had the figures and lots of the costumes.
CMix: What attracted you to this project in the first place?
FN: The chance to participate in an open competition to see how my ideas would stack up against an unknown quantity of contestants and the chance to develop continuity for a concept I’d loved as a kid.
CMix: Captain Action first appeared in the ’60s. Will you be changing anything about the character or the story to cater to modern audiences?
FN: Yes and no. The basic premise to the concept remains the same. He’s a super-spy. He fights bad guys. He disguises himself. The big difference is we’ve created a real strong sense of history to the world these characters live in.
Captain Action was Captain Action in the ’60s through the ’70s. He aged to an administrative role in his spy agency. The bad guys were defeated. Superhumans who were created to help fight the bad guys remained in place.
A new Captain Action came on the scene in the early ’00s, it didn’t work out that well and that’s where we pick up.
CMix: Can you give you give us some info about the story itself? What happens? Any cool twists and turns you would like to share?
FN: An alien threat called the Red Crawl has been covertly taking control of humans all over the world. It’s the 1950s through the ’60s — the Cold War and the "Red Menace" exacerbates the opportunity for these microscopic aliens to gain control over human hosts.
After U.S. operatives learn of this menace, they initiate a top-secret agency to fight against it called the A.C.T.I.O.N. Directorate. Captain Action becomes the organization’s top undercover field agent.
In the early 1970s, we reverse-engineer Crawl tech to create superhumans to fight the battle on a more overt, public level. Eventually, we don’t win the fight against the Red Crawl so much as they just seem to die off.
Now, 30 years later, the Crawl’s true plans come to fruition and things get ugly real quick… or do they? How do you win a war when no one on the planet knows you’re even fighting one?
CMix: What themes will you be trying to explore in the new comic?
FN: Honor. Duty. Responsibility. The conflicting natures of good and evil. Our obsessive cultural need to worship heroes. Our society’s desire to stick its head in the sand.
But none of that is at the cost of throwing around lots of action, cool spy gear, and hot babes.
CMix: Excellent. Hot babes — always a good idea. Tell us about the Captain Action character? What’s he all about?
FN: He is about 6’2" tall, in his late-20s. He is also about 6’4" tall and in his late-60s.
CMix: Is a character who originated in the ’60s like Captain Action still relevant to today’s comics fans and pop-culture? What does he have to offer them?
FN: Yes he is. Because now more than ever, the feeling that we don’t control our own lives and that the course of our society is dictated by things beyond our control or understanding is still very prevalent.
Captain Action fights the people who DO pull the strings.
CMix: What’s one thing you want fans to take away after reading the Captain Action comic?
FN: That he’s a pretty cool character in a pretty cool setting.
CMix: How does writing Captain Action compare to writing something like Cable and Deadpool, Thunderbolts or Uncanny X-Men?
FN: Well, I haven’t written enough pages to really be able to compare them. Every project has its own strengths.
CMix: Such as?
FN: This one is about the underdog trying to fight an almost impossible battle, so some themes from my previous work might be reflected in the material, but it stands as its own thing.
CMix: What other projects are you working on at the moment? What’s next for you?
FN: I’ll be working on the second chapters for DC’s next weekly book,Trinity. Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley are working on the lead chapters as Kurt and I co-plot the back-up chapters that expand everything going on in the main story by showing its wider ranging ramifications on various characters in the DCU.
It’s a REAL big, sprawling, fun story that allows me to play all over the DC Universe sandbox. I’m having a blast with it so far and artists Scott McDaniel and Tom Derenick, who will be doing the bulk of the art on the second chapters, are doing a great job!
I also have a five-part Batgirl story starting in Batman Confidential #17 in May drawn by Kevin Maguire.
CMix: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Fabian.