Thursday, February 7, 2008

Review: The Twelve # 2 (of 12)

The Twelve time-lost Mystery Men of World War II adjust to the reality of life in the 21st century. But where do you go, what do you do, when everybody you knew is either dead and buried or in old-age homes, and the future you thought you were fighting for turned out to be radically different from what you imagined?

Okay, the second issue of J. Michael Straczynski & Chris Weston's revival of a dozen old golden age Timely Comics characters has hit the stands, courtesy of todays Marvel Comics.

The Twelve #2 brings to mind a line from an old Fats Domino song, I'm Walkin":

"I'm walkin, yes indeed and I'm talkin bout you and me ... "

And basically that's about all that happens in this issue, walking and talking that is. Oh, there are a few pages that show Dynamic Man back in action in the modern world and these moments pointedly drive home how things have changed for these WWII mystery men. Another sequence touchingly shows Captain Wonder's graveside visit with his - now deceased - family members. However, since today's readership can't determine what a dramatic moment this is supposed to be, Weston treats us to a full page spread of Prof. Steve jordan prostrate over his wife's headstone. In the silver age of comics Stan & Jack would have handled all of the above in a few establishing panels and THEN blown us all away with a slam-bang, knock-em-dead superhero freeforall. [There is also one huge error during this sequence. In flashback, Prof. Jordan's wife mistakenly calls him by the wrong first name (Earl, instead of Steve). The editor on this title must be asleep at the wheel.]

No such luck here! The dangling plot thread from the previous issue gets no forward momentum this time around. The Blue Blade's murder gets recapped briefly right at the outset of issue number two and then - nothing. Straczynski specializes in talking heads over action, but if the entire mini-series follows this model, there may not be much to hold the audiences attention.

Sadly, it's not like the writer here isn't capable of telling an old-style action yarn. Of much better interest here and tantalizingly alluded to in a very few panels is what is going on with the Black Widow and her supposed "deal with the devil". This is much more like it; and more like what Stan & Jack would have done in another era. Another fine example of condensed storytelling that moves the readership along, and entices at the same time, is the poignant moment with Rockman at this issues denoument.

So, I guess this review is a recommendation, but only a guarded one thus far. Only time will tell!

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