Monday, October 20, 2008

Reviewing The Twelve #8 and Legion of 3 Worlds #2

The Twelve #8 (Marvel Comics)

"They are yesterday's men of tomorrow - today! After being placed in cryogenic suspension by the Nazis at the close of WWII, twelve mystery men of the 1940's are revived in the far-flung future of 2008. With the world they knew just a faded memory, these superhuman champions must find a place for themselves in the strange and horrifying era of the 21st Century."

To say the least, adjustment hasn't come easy for this disparate goup of golden age also-ran's. Integrating these characters into the greater Marvel Universe has proven of little importance to series writer J. M. Straczynski. Eight issues (out of twelve) have elapsed and there has not been so much as a hint of the larger fictional universe that these forgotten heroes are supposedly a lost part of. In better days, Marvel Comics could have been counted on to toss in a guest appearance (or two) to help set the stage for incorporating these heroes into the fold. Neither Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four or Captain America has stopped by. No Sub-Mariner or Nick Fury. No Wolverine. Nada!
As I've reviewed earlier issues of this mini-series, I have stated my belief (based on his earlier work) that Straczynski would ever so slowly dole out the action of this series to the bitter end. I admit to suffering from a morbid curiosity over where things finally end up for 'The Twelve', but for me, this series leaves alot to be desired. Basically, times have changed and despite the sell-out success that this series has enjoyed, traditional super heroic storytelling ala the House of Ideas has flown the coop.

This issue the Phantom Reporter confronts the Black Widow over the unsolved string of violent murders that he has grown to suspect she is responsible for committing. We are then treated to her long overdue origin which explains who and what Claire Voyant is in league with, and the devil is in the details - so to speak. The Fiery Mask is also grilled by the police over his possible involvement in the most recent of these incidents and in the process it is revealed that Dr. Jack Castle may have fudged the truth of his own bizarre origin, as there is no record of the Fiery Mask's supposed involvement with that eras police department. The Blue Blade gets a peek into the inner workings of the robotic Electro and discovers surprising information that might lead to his impending death. Master Mind Excello forwards a costume upgrade to the Phantom Reporter, posts bail for the Laughing Mask and mentally coaxes Rockman back into the fray, all perhaps setting up the series denouement. The issue closes out with a flashback to the Blue Blade's earliest motivation for becoming an action hero and he confronts Dynamic Man over what he has recently uncovered.

Chris Weston continues to provide some interesting artwork on this book, the series highlight (at least for me) and Straczynski owes Weston a big debt of gratitude for this, as without the intricate pencils of Weston, The Twelve would probably not have succeeded - even with today's jaded fans.


Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2 (of 5; DC Comics) picks up the action quite a bit from the initial issue of this mini-series in fine Geoff Johns & George Perez form. A small contingent of Legionnaires rescues their missing member the White Witch from the clutches of Mordru and then barely manage to escape with their lives, albeit with the sacrifice of a long-time supporting cast member (who goes out in truly heroic fashion). Mordru himself is ultimately recruited into the much deadlier version of the Legion of Super-Villains that Superboy-Prime currently fronts and after the remaining heroic Legionnaires split into smaller teams to confront their foes, Brainiac 5 utilizes a sphere made out of the crystallized Nexus of all Earths from all parallel universes, to draft two different, heroic versions of the Legion of Super-Heroes into the mix. Things are definitely heating up with this Final Crisis tie-in and despite my reticence to pick up material that simply spins off of mega-crossovers, I plan on seeing this entertaining ride through to the end.

And lest I forget, Scott Koblish deserves a nod for his excellent ink work over the veteran pencils of gentleman George Perez (who hasn't looked this good since JLA/Avengers) and the same goes for Hi-Fi on colors and Nick Napolitano's lettering.

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