Man of Action Studios is a group of comic book creators featuring Duncan Rouleau (writer), Joe Casey (writer and artist), Joe Kelly (writer and artist) and Steven T. Seagle (writer and artist). They are most famous for creating Cartoon Network's Cash Cow Franchise Ben 10.
Man of Action got its start when writers Steven Seagle and Joe Kelly stood in front of the panel platform at the San Diego Comic Con, while Joe Casey leaned casually at the end, and artist Duncan Rouleau parked himself behind the lectern. The four friends recalled how they created Man of Action many years ago in response to "wanting a place to sit down at the San Diego Comic Con". They grew tired of wandering around the large convention and decided they needed a booth. In order to have a booth, they needed a company.
During the time they worked with Cartoon Network, the team created Ben 10, which went on to become one of the channel most popular (and profitable) series, spawning a franchise that continues to this day. Though they they had no direct involvement with any of the original's sequel series, aside from a few contributions, they would go on to create Generator Rex and write a crossover special between the two series.
In recent years, Man of Action's work was become rather... controversial due to more "childish" nature of their later projects. After Rex, the crew jumped to Marvel Animation, where they served as the supervising producers for the first two seasons of Ultimate Spider-Man and executive produced the first two seasons of Avengers, Assemble!. After which they returned to Cartoon Network, they developed a reboot of Ben 10 that was met with as much mixed response as their Marvel projects.
- The Ben 10 franchise (2005 - present): The series follows a ten-year-old boy named Ben Tennyson who, on the first night of a summer road-trip with his grandfather Max and his cousin Gwen, stumbles across an alien device known as the Omnitrix which bonds itself to his wrist like a watch. Ben finds that the device has alien DNA encoded in it which allows him to transform to a variety of alien species, with their own set of skills. From then on, Ben uses the device to take on any threats that come his way, growing as a hero and uncovering mysteries about the world and universe around him while causing a few bouts of mischief in the process. note
- Generator Rex (2010 - 2013): The plot focuses on an amnesiac 15-year-old boy named Rex, who gained the ability to produce bio-organic machines from his body due to a global incident that occurred five years prior known only as "The Event", which caused nanites to infect every living thing across the planet, causing random mutations into creatures called E.V.Os (Exponentially Variegated Organisms). Due to his unique ability to control his nanites and cure others of theirs, Rex is enlisted by the private agency known as Providence. While working with the organization, Rex aims to uncover his mysterious past, what really happened to cause "The Event", and whether or not these two things might be linked.
- Zak Storm (2017 - present): Co-produced with Zagtoon, the show follows teenager Zak Storm who, after a surfing incident involving his father's necklace and a mysterious storm, finds himself in The Bermuda Triangle, where he is picked up by an animated pirate ship called the Chaos with a talking sword named Calabrass. From the duo, Zak discovers that his father's necklace contains a magical, power-granting gem called the "Eye of Beru", and that in order to return home, he first needs to become the captain of the Chaos and unite the Seven Seas.
- Power Players (2019-present): Another co-production with Zagtoon, the series involves a team of secret toy heroes led by Axel, a kid who discovers the Power Bandz which can transform him into the living, toy-sized action figure, Action Axel. Together with his team of toys brought to life, the Power Players fight the destructive fun of villainous robot Madcap and his pack of toys gone bad.
- Gormiti Nature Unleashed (Served as story editors)
- Ultimate Spider-Man (Served as supervising producers and writers for Seasons 1 & 2)
- Monsuno (Developed the series alongside toy company Jakks Pacific)
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! (Wrote select episodes in Season 2)
- Avengers, Assemble! (Served as supervising producers and writers for Season 1; became consultants for season 2)
- Bakugan: Battle Planet (Produced with TMS Entertainment and Nelvana; also serve as story editors)
- Mega Man: Fully Charged (Series developers)
- Big Hero 6 (1998): A Marvel superhero team created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau. The team went on to be revived and reimagined for a Disney animated film (and later television series) without the involvement of MoA, though the film credits the group as a whole for the creation of the characters.
- Machina Rex (1999): A short-lived Image Comics series created by Joe Kelly and Duncan Rouleau, detailing the events leading up to a Robot War that's doomed to take place in five year's time; specifically the roles that a secret agent, a Hollywood model, and an apprentice thief that can control machines played in those years. The concept was later reworked and adapted into Generator Rex.
- Superman (1999-2004): The whole team worked on the Superman books with Jeph Loeb in some capacity, with Kelly taking over Action Comics alongside Loeb on Superman, Casey shortly afterward taking over Adventures of Superman, Seagle replacing Loeb on Superman when Loeb left to work on Superman/Batman, and Rouleau doing some one-shots and fill-in work. Their biggest contributions to the lore were the arc with Lex Luthor as President of the United States, which would inspire elements of Superman lore going forward, including the Cadmus arc of Justice League Unlimited; Our Worlds at War, which created Imperiex, who'd go on to be the Big Bad of season 2 of Legion of Super-Heroes; and Kelly's Action Comics #775, "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way", which features the debut of the Elite and being a deconstruction of teams like The Authority. The last one led to Kelly doing both Justice League Elite and a Self-Adaptation for the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line, Superman vs. the Elite.
- I Kill Giants (2008-2009): A Image Comics limited series created by Joe Kelly and J. M. Ken Niimura, outside of the MoA collective. The graphic novel follows a young girl named Barbara Thorson, a cynical misanthrope who claims to have the ability to see fantasy creatures and fight giants, while the adults around her view such ramblings as a depressed girl struggling to cope with family issues. Was adapted into a film in 2017, with Kelly personally writing the screenplay.
Tropes associated with Man of Action and their work:
- Animesque: Ben 10, Generator Rex and Monsuno; Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble fill this role also to some extent.
- Creator Thumbprint: Recurring themes are Nanotechnology, Body Horror, high-tech government conspiracies, and ethnically-diverse protagonists.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: A lot of their characters are this.
- Idiot Hero: Their usual protagonists.
- Tsundere: Almost all the token female characters in their shows tend to be characterized as Type A Tsundere; special mention to Gwen, White Tiger, and Black Widow, who are almost always very Tsun, especially the latter two, who are almost never Dere.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The shows they do usually are comedic and light-hearted, but with vile major antagonists and often a lot of terrifying stuff when it comes to the villains' designs.