Absolute Beginners

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Action Man #1
ActionMan1 subcvr.jpg
"Absolute Beginners"
First published June 22, 2016
Cover date June 2016
Written by John Barber
Art by Paolo Villanelli
Colors by John-Paul Bove
Letters by Neil Uyetake
Edits by Carlos Guzman

The new Action Man is a bit green behind the ears.


Four years ago, in a North London school, a teacher lectures the young Ian Noble, giving him a math problem about trains that the student refuses to answer, swearing that his future will be "about more than train schedules".

Today, south of Cambridge, Ian Noble as Action Man finds himself facing a literal train collision, as one has terrorists with a dirty bomb, while the other has very explosive petrol. With his support team occupied in Milton Keynes, it's up to Ian to rescue the hostages and disarm the bomb; he manages to shoot all of the terrorists without harming civilians, but he's at a loss about what to do with the bomb, and quartermaster Bryce Chan isn't of much help. After some reprimanding from Director Bestley, Ian manages to solve the situation by derailing the passenger train before it can hit the petrol train, and it tumbles into the forest, to the ire of a particular passenger, who chews out Action Man for risking their lives.

In the aftermath, Ian comes face to face with... tigers? They're soon scared away by Terrence Salmons and Mercy Gale, members of the Action Man Programme's support team. They explain that the train crashed into the Shepreth Wildlife Park, which has a tiger enrichment programme. On the way back to headquarters, Salmons chews out Ian for endangering civilians, while Gale tries to comfort him on his guilt over his predecessor's death and dissuading his belief that Doctor X is still alive.

At headquarters, Ian isn't faring well against Salmons in martial arts training, but the bout is stopped short by Gale, who tells Ian to report to Chan. After some conversation about his relationships, Chan gives Ian a micro-rebreather and a device meant to copy and delete data from a hard drive. Next is a meeting with Bestley, who, after chewing out Ian for not meeting the standards his predecessor set, explains his next mission: he is to go to the house of former Action Man Programme director Victor Hugo on Guernsey. Extremists claiming to be for Guernsey independence have taken vacationers hostage at the house, but Action Man's real goal is to take care of a hidden hard drive containing sensitive information. After some sneaking, he finds the secret room, wipes the drive, and soon comes across the extremists. Spotting an "X" mark on one of the men's belts, Ian, despite Bestley's orders, leaps into action!

Featured characters[edit]

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Action Man Programme Other
  • Separatists (incl. Tommy) (12)



Real world references[edit]

  • The title of this issue, as with the other Action Man issues, is taken from a book by Colin MacInnes; in this case, the 1959 novel from MacInnes's "London Trilogy".
  • Ian's "mind the gap" quip on derailing the train is a reference to the omnipresent safety warning — often in the form "Please mind the gap between the train and the platform" — found on the London Underground.

Covers (5)[edit]

  • Regular cover: Ian Noble ready for battle, by Chris Evenhuis.
  • Subscription cover: The Action Man Programme in London, by Paolo Villanelli and John-Paul Bove.
  • Toy cover: Photograph of the original Action Man in the 1967 'British Infantryman' uniform, photographer unknown.
  • Retailer incentive cover: Ian Noble shoots a bad guy, by Andrew Currie and Jay Fotos.
  • Diamond UK retailer exclusive cover: The previous Action Man stands ready, by Chris Evenhuis.