Forget about going out with a bang. In the world of Jonathan London’s skewed, gore-soaked, ultra-violent hero Super Action Man, Osama Bin Laden goes out with one very unique sound effect…
Giving away how Bin Laden gets KORF-ed out of existence would be a spoiler of egregious levels. Suffice to say it fits the overall theme of London’s first issue of the Super Action Man book. Bloody, and hilarious.
London would have to be considered, if not a Renaissance man, then a Renaissance nerd. He's a film director by trade, and the man behind Geekscape.net
. His brother is pro wrestler Paul London, former WWE competitor and Hybrid Dolphin
. And when London and I weren't busy discussing the smooth gameplay, storytelling archetypes and cultural impact of the Monkey Island game series, we found a little time to discuss Super Action Man, London's first effort as a comic book writer.
The creation of the Geekscape site helped lead to the creation of Super Action Man, as London explained.
"I had an award winning short a couple years ago, and when I would take it around the festival circuit, I made the mistake of not collecting fans’ e-mails. The people who really appreciated your work, I didn’t have anywhere to send them. And so I created a website called Geekscape to say, ‘You know what? Even though I continue to work as a director, it’s sporadic as a storyteller. It takes a while to make a movie. It takes a while to make comic books. Let’s make a website where we can all hang out and share the enthusiasm, and we would attend Comic-Con.' And at Comic-Con, I would dress up in like SpiderMan undies and do a super action character."
Originally conceived as a short film, budgetary concerns primarily dictated that Super Action Man confine his exploits to the world of comics instead. The result? A wild and wacky romp in which a hero clad only in a Speedo, a headband, mirrored sunglasses and a pair of combat boots beheads, bludgeons and disembowels his way through the art of a terrorist den in Pakistan.
“There’s robotic bears. Theres Russian technology involved. It’s a crazy book,” London said.
And it was written before Bin Laden was killed in real life.
“Four days after it’s listed in the previews, I get a text on my machine that says, ‘Hey, congrats to Super Action Man. Bin Laden’s dead.’ I said, ‘Ha, that’s pretty funny… Wait…’ And I go and check Google and I said, ‘Holy cow, Bin Laden’s actually dead!’ I immediately thought as a writer and I e-mailed my letterer and I said, ‘I know you’re done with the book but I need to fix a couple of things,’ ” London recalled.
The changes were cosmetic, really. The setting shifted from Afghanistan to Pakistan. The time frame was altered to 2011. The end result, however, remained the same.
"He still died about as violently as you can have someone die," said London, who's had this storyline rattling around in his brain for a few years now. The goal of Super Action Man, or S.A.M. for short, is made evident by the front cover of the book--which shows the half-naked hero slamming his way through Bin Laden, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il and Gaddafi.
"I think all Americans feel helpless and a little bit frustrated, especially after something like 9/11 happens, like ‘why can’t we just go out and get these people?’ So I wrote a book that was kind of cathartic for me. I don’t understand U.S. foreign policy. I don’t understand our place in the world. And I’m just me. What I do understand is the intense over-simplification of violence," London said.
In that way, Super Action Man hearkens back to the old pulp novel exploits of Conan the Barbarian. Like the Cimmerian created by Robert E. Howard, there's no obstacle that Super Action Man cannot kill his way through.
If London has his way, this is just the first adventure for a character his creator describes as intensely American, intensely masculine and intensely violent.
“He’s always talking about babes and the Statue of Liberty being the hottest woman in the world,” London said. “He loves nothing more than protecting the tenets of the original Founding Fathers, which we do get away from. Especially in a two party system, and in a world where we have red states and blue states, we get away from the fact that you know what, we’re all Americans. The horse race that’s developed through media, and I know how it is. You want to get ratings. You want to develop some kind of a spectacle. But it’s detrimental. And at the end of the day, you’re American, I’m American, you believe in being free, in being able to pursue what you enjoy. I want to be able to do the same thing. And I think that bond, that kind of enthusiasm for self, it’s the ultimate American thing. That’s really what S.A.M. in the end justifies.”
You can buy Super Action Man’s debut directly from London, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
. There’s also a graphic novel on the way, though the release date has yet to be announced. That book will take Super Action Man around the world fighting what London described as “American baddies”, while also examining the backstory behind this exuberant Speedo-clad superhero. Without giving too much away, let's just say that Super Action Man--if not immortal, ages very slowly, with a character history dating back to the Revolutionary War.
We'll have more information on the Super Action Man graphic novel as soon as possible. Meanwhile, you can check out issue number one by e-mailing email@example.com to order your copy. And, be sure and check out Geekscape.net where, among other things, they've been reviewing each #1 issue in DC Comics' "New 52" initiative.
"I'm really in a wait-and-see place with it," London said of the reboot. "Some of the books have been great, some not. It's basically the same as it was before as far as quality goes. And as much as it streamlined a lot of the stories, it has also made the timelines for the books a bit confusing."
You can also follow Super Action Man on Twitter
"Last year, when Scott Pilgrim came out against the Expendables, Super Action Man’s Twitter definitely became an Oscar campaign about how the Expendables was such a better movie and you can just give Sylvester Stallone the Oscar now and quit all the whining, and anyone who would see Scott Pilgrim over the Expendables was un-American and a complete wuss," London recalled. "And you know what won at the box office? The Expendables. America is NASCAR and pro wrestling, and it’s never going to change."