The Twelve—The Complete Series

the twelve cover review marvel comics
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Art: 8/10

Decent art, interesting concept

Art can derivative story, delays in publication

Comic Info

Comic Name: The Twelve/The Twelve: Spearhead

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Chris Weston

Artist: Chris Weston/Garry Leach

# of Issues: 13

Release Date: Release Date

the twelve #2 cover review straczynski

The Twelve #2

Reprints The Twelve #1-12 and The Twelve: Spearhead #1 (March 2008-June 2012). The Nazis and the Third Reich are falling. When a team of twelve superheroes are secretly overpowered, they are placed in cryogenic sleep where they spent decades before being rediscovered. Now, the Twelve are trapped in a world they no longer recognize or understand and are trying to readjust to society. Unfortunately, someone within the Twelve is hiding a deadly secret that could destroy them all!

Written by J. Michael Straczynski (and with Chris Weston on The Twelve: Spearhead #1), The Twelve—The Complete Series reprints the full run of The Twelve but does not include the reprint issues The Twelve #0 (January 2008) and The Twelve #1/2 (September 2008) which featured the first appearances of members of the team. The collection features art by Chris Weston and Garry Leach.

The Twelve started out kind of interesting. It was a team of Golden Age heroes that fell into obscurity and has them returning to life…and then there was a problem. The comic book quit being released after The Twelve #8 (December 2008) allegedly due Straczynski’s screenwriting time demands. The comic resumed with The Twelve #9 (April 2012), but by then any momentum the series had was lost.

The next problem with The Twelve is the problem with much of Straczynski’s writing…it feels very derivative. The time-jumping aspect of the Twelve, the murderer picking the team off one-by-one, and the general writing style feels a lot like Alan Moore’s Watchmen. It feels like the story has potential to grow into its own thing, but the characters and storyline never seem to evolve past a rip-off of a better series.

the twelve #12 cover review straczynski

The Twelve #12

The other part of the comic that is less than satisfactory is the fact that the guy you think is the murderer from the beginning is revealed to be the murderer. There are some basic twists and turns with the plot, but there is essentially one person among the Twelve that you really suspect…and it is him. That doesn’t really make for a good mystery and often leaves you questioning if the series actually is a mystery at all.

The Twelve: The Spearhead #1 (May 2010) is an adventure into the World War II fights of the characters (and also served to keep the title in stores during the hiatus). It is a nice, solid standalone. I do wish that the collection had contained the two reprint issues simply because it was interesting to see characters from the Golden Age that never made the transition (until this series). Often you think of comics, you just think of the big guns, but there were tons of imitators trying to copy the success of the DC and Timely Comics.

The Twelve—The Complete Series is a rather “meh” collection. The art is solid, and the story has its moments, but overall, it is a letdown. With similar “great” series (like Watchmen), it might leave you wishing you just had reread that classic instead. I would like to see the characters return sometime, but with few anthology books, I don’t see that happening…but you never know when an old hero might rise again.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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