With “The Twelve” on hiatus for various reasons involving creators J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston, an opening in Weston’s schedule means that fans of the group get a special treat this week with a 38-page one-shot written and drawn by the book’s artist. Weston, wisely, avoids the plot of the main series and focuses on a story from the waning days of World War II, mixing the characters from “The Twelve” with Captain America and the Invaders for one big adventure involving the Spear of Destiny.
Narrated by the Phantom Reporter, who’s embedded with a unit as the American and Russian forces are both rushing to capture Berlin, the Americans making a good pace thanks to their superhuman forces. Weston focuses on contrasting the superpowered and non-superpowered costumed heroes, along with the regular soldiers, since the Reporter has no superpowers. His initial meeting with Dynamic Man raises these issues well and they continue on when the Reporter volunteers (more like begs) for a mission with Captain America.
Weston does a good job of making the superpowered heroes wondrous and out of the ordinary. The Phantom Reporter’s insecurities and fraud-like feelings — up on the front lines to just write articles while wearing a costume — drive the story forward in a smart way. While the mission he goes on isn’t the most exciting plot, it takes on a larger meaning that resonates in the story as shown through his eyes.
Weston also makes sure to throw in cameos of all of the heroes from “The Twelve,” putting their later relationships in new lights. Though, despite the strong characterization of the Reporter, this issue is weak on plot, very much your standard World War II superhero story.
Weston and Erskine on art makes for a very attractive book. Warren Ellis once said that two create hyper-real art, a sense of a world that you can pick up and examine, and that’s what comes through here most of all. Weston and Erskine draw soldiers that look real, making the costumed heroes stand out even more. They don’t look like they belong and that the Phantom Reporter is right to feel somewhat out of place, that he’s playing a game while others are risking their lives.
The action sequences at the end are gorgeous with Chuckry’s colors adding a lot of depth to already great art. Weston is very good at that big, explosive action. That he wrote this issue means that he, wisely, wrote to his strengths and there isn’t an unattractive page to be found in this comic.
While the plot is a little light and typical, Weston’s character work and art are superb. “Spearhead” makes for a nice treat to make the wait for more issues of “The Twelve” a little less difficult.