The Twelve – J Michael Straczynski

The twelveTwelve American heroes are frozen at the end of the Second World War and defrosted today. What lessons can they teach us about our world?

Straczynski does super heroes very well. He pokes and prods them and lifts the lid on what really makes them tick. At twelve issues we not only have a lot of time to explore the concept of heroes but also hold a mirror up to the world around us.

There is a good story with a mystery to be solved and twelve differing characters to help us understand the human condition. The premise also allows us to compare the allegedly black and white morality of the 1940’s with the world of tomorrow that we read this book in.

The writing and characterisation is superb but an ensemble of twelve really strains things. We do have a protagonist to latch on to, complete with narration. There are also plenty of clear signposts when Straczynski shakes up the timeline and clues to help us solve the overarching mystery.

There is a double ending and although we want to know what happens to the characters after the Agatha Christie reveal it does feel like it runs a little long. Normally cameos distract from a good story but the subtle way other Marvel characters appear isn’t a deal breaker. Various subtle references remind you this story is set “in Universe” but don’t derail it.

The art is great with Chris Weston doing a fantastic job. All the characters are different and there are some emotive facial expressions. The layout is strong and dynamic but never gratuitous. You can tell two veterans are expertly steering this book.

There is an additional prequel story that doesn’t add too much but is a nice filler for those of you who don’t want to let go of these characters just yet. The hardback format and slightly oversize nature of the book are all strengths.

Definitely a Thumbs Up!

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