Codename Action #4 Review

by @WednesdayComix on Dec 19, 2013

As Operative 1001 and French agent Black Venus come to Operator 5's rescue, the mysterious Dr. Thorpe foments a diabolical plan that even the terrorist organization Hexagon has no knowledge about.

The Good

"Codename: Action #4" delivers espionage-action courtesy of Chris Roberson and Jonathan Lau. Operative 1001 and Black Venus team up after their fiasco in the previous issue to get to the bottom of the plot to plunge the world into a nuclear war. The two infiltrate an island base somewhere in the South Pacific, perhaps French Polynesia. It was Venus' contact in Tahiti (see Issue no. 3) that tipped her off and put them in the right direction. Once in the base, both encounter resistance by a trio of "stooges" that seem strangely familiar. Lau laid a neat Easter egg here with that gag.

Meanwhile, Operator 5 is still under interrogation by Dr. Thorpe, head of the science division. Thorpe is the mastermind behind the doppelgängers and the nuclear plot. Operator 5 finds the strength to resist the painful mind-probes, which could totally melt his brain. "Not for long," according to the doctor. Thorpe momentarily breaks away from his torture lab to address the council, a shrouded assembly of fear agents that comprise the leadership of Hexagon. They're impatient with the doctor's progress. They behoove him to keep to the timetable and to stay on task with the primary objectives. However, Thorpe has ulterior motives.

Operative 1001 discovers that the vigilante American Crusader has also been holed up on the island. He explains that not only were politicians and world leaders replaced, but heroes as well. The agent devises a scheme to charade as the vigilante in order to gain more info into the plot. Roberson effectively lived up to the Captain Action myth by allowing Operative 1001 to don American Crusader's costume. Vintage toy enthusiasts would appreciate this moment in the issue. Moreover, the reveal at the end makes collecting "Codename: Action" rewarding and marks the debut of Dr. Evil (not officially shown).

The Not So Good

I missed the newsflash about other missing heroes. I wish that Roberson would have explored how Green Hornet, Kato and the others found themselves in the same trouble as Operator 5. Their appearances jolted my imagination and created a gap in the story. Roberson showed how American Crusader (Issue no. 2) and the Spider (Issue no. 3) were captured in previous issues. Why not Green Hornet and the others? Though readers know by now about Hexagon's plot to erode America's trust of masked vigilantes, it would have been nice to see this flesh out in the narrative.

Jonathan Lau's line work was rough in multiple places. These panels look worse in guided view because they're up-close. Don't get me wrong, most of the art is good. I simply don't want to see what I believe is a rush job in shading. It just looks like scribbles to me.

I chose not to wait for the mark-down on the Digital Exclusive Edition at Comixology. I bought Issue no. 4 digitally at cover price in its first week. At that price, I could have gotten the print copy.

The Bottom Line

Roberson uses classic tropes in a spy thriller that kept me turning the page. Clones. Nukes. Tyrants. And the heroes who seek to stop them. Who can pass that up?

3.6 / 5
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Codename Action #4
Released December 11, 2013
Writer Chris Roberson
Artist Jonathan Lau
Cover Artist Jae Lee

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