When Jonathan London and 215 Ink started developing Super Action Man, a crazy, over-the-top homage/send-up of the old-school action hero going into Pakistan to finally accomplish the seemingly impossible task of taking out Osama Bin Laden, they couldn't possibly have known that Navy SEAL Team 6 would actually get the job done in just as badass a way just days after they announced the project. Now, their 12-page story with artists Ace Continuado and Peebo Mondia, planned for release at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, has a wholly unexpected new context to it.
"I was frustrated at the African embassy bombings because we knew who these guys were and couldn't get them," London explains in regards to the genesis of the project. "Then the U.S.S. Cole happened and it got worse. I was sad when the Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban. And I was living in New York City when 9/11 happened and the shock and helplessness frustrated the hell out of me. How could this guy still be running around doing this? I know I was in the majority feeling this. The only thing I could do was write a story about it."
A ridiculous Rambo-style story, that is. London has no illusions that he's treating the topic with any sort of delicacy.
"SAM is a gross oversimplification and fictionalization of real events," he admits, "but I think there's a place for that. The first issue of Captain America had Cap punching Hitler in the face at the height of World War II! Why would we move away from using stories to reflect our national sentiment? People can do radio shows, write articles and organize poltical rallies. Why not express these things in a comic book? That's the most American thing you can do!"
So is Super Action Man superfluous now that we've got a real-life team of super action men to celebrate, even if we'll never know their actual names? London doesn't think so.
"SAM was always designed as a love letter to our armed forces and America," he notes. "I think it'd be wrong to pull the book just because my rendition is cartoonish and exaggerated when we now know what the real events were. If you want them, there are history books and more informed sources out there. But the contents of this first issue are so much about free speech – almost to the point of being annoying – that it would be disrespectful to scrap it just because it's a comedy book based around real events. The first amendment was established and protected to uphold our ability to publish silly books like this one. Every step of the way, I sent the artwork to my friends in the armed forces to keep them pumped and they couldn't be more excited for this book. I'm buying part of the print run just to mail copies out to them! The reaction from soldiers at WonderCon was awesome and so positive."
"Just look at Tone Rodriguez's cover!" London stresses. "I told him to give me a current events throw back to that first Captain America cover and he knocked it out of the park on his first try! A guy running around in his underwear, beating up our nation's enemies while singing the praises of McDonald's, NASCAR, hot babes and a free economy? That's about as All American as you can get!"