Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Twelve

 First off, this is why I buy collected editions, right here. Because chances are, that monthly is going to be late, or get canceled, or remain unfinished for years, or potentially forever. After getting burned enough times, I just learned to wait. Marvel starting publishing THE TWELVE in 2008, and it was published monthly for around eight months, until it was put "On hold" for a variety of reasons, starting with Author J. Michael Straczynski's screenwriting career. It was eventually finished, and released, in mid-2012. Ouch. Straczynski has a long history of super-late books, of which this is just one. I bought the first hardcover collection of THE TWELVE, which collected the first six issues, way back in 2008, and here I am reading the conclusion around FIVE YEARS LATER. Awful. More after the jump....

 It had been so long since the first volume, that I felt compelled to buy the complete hardcover, which collects all twelve issues of the mini-series, and a related one-shot. This is why I have no money.

 THE TWELVE tells a familiar story: A group of masked adventurers are trapped in suspended animation at the end of World War II, discovered and revived today, and are forced to acclimate, or not, to a world that has moved on without them.

 The first issues were smashing, and I was really looking forward to seeing where Straczynski went with his cast of characters. Perhaps if I had read this all in one sitting, five years ago, I would have been more impressed with the second half. As it stands, five years of anticipation have not done this book any favors. It's a good book, don't get me wrong, but it's a standard book, and the second half kind of coasts to a finale that's really underwhelming. It wasn't worth the wait.

 The characters, brought back from Golden Age Timely Comics obscurity, are well-developed, and shine in the quieter moments. It's only when Straczynski decides to go for a reveal that's very reminiscent of WATCHMEN that the cracks begin to show in what had been a seamless story. It's almost like Straczynski either never had an ending in mind, or forgot what it was while he was taking a break from the series. Chris Weston's art is a thing of beauty, and he pulls double-duty with the included one-shot, THE TWELVE: SPEARHEAD, writing AND illustrating a WWII flashback tale. I've never read anything Written by Weston, but I was impressed enough by what he did here to hope that he decides to do some more writing.

 THE TWELVE could have been great....Unfortunately, it turned out to be a poor man's WATCHMEN. Not bad, but hard to recommend.