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The Twelve: Link to the Past

Chris Weston steps into the writer's chair with THE TWELVE: SPEARHEAD

THE TWELVE: SPEARHEAD preview art by Chris Weston
By Marc Strom

The Twelve just can't seem to escape the past.

The group has had to deal with acclimating themselves to the present day Marvel Universe, learning everything that has occurred between the end of World War II and the present. And now, regular artist of THE TWELVE Chris Weston will delve into their Golden Age adventures as he both writes and draws THE TWELVE: SPEARHEAD #1, on sale March 10

"'Spearhead' has two meanings in the context of this story," relates Weston. "The first refers to the codename of the Third Armored Division, who led the Allied invasion into the heart of Nazi Germany during World War II. The Phantom Reporter is covering this offensive in his war-correspondent capacity, writing articles that focus on the super hero contribution to the campaign. He's not entirely comfortable with this task; he'd rather see the credit go to the average Joe in uniform who has to face the dangers of armed combat without the benefit of super powers.

"'Spearhead' also refers to the Lance of Saint Maurice, more commonly known as 'The Spear of Destiny.' Rumored to have occult powers, this was a prized possession of Adolf Hitler. By the end of the war it eventually ended up in the hands of General Patton, 'Ol' Blood 'n' Guts' himself, who returned the instrument to its rightful home in Austria."

With 12 characters to choose from, Weston latched onto the Phantom Reporter as his main focus for a number of reasons.

THE TWELVE: SPEARHEAD preview art by Chris Weston
"By his very nature, the Phantom Reporter is a storyteller, and that makes him the ideal narrator for this tale," he says. "Even in the main series of THE TWELVE, he's the nearest thing to a lead character. Besides that, he's my favorite character. He's a nice guy doing his best to make a difference in the world even if he isn't sure of the best way to go about it. Too many heroes these days are written as cocksure and cynical, so it's quite refreshing to have one who is genuinely decent and likable."

Set in the heroes' original time period, SPEARHEAD will act as a kind of "prequel" to THE TWELVE, showing how some of the characters from the series operated on a solo basis during the war.

"[Regular series writer J. Michael Straczynski] made it very clear that the Twelve never were a team in the traditional sense, merely 12 disparate super heroes who just happened to be thrown together by fate under the most unfortunate circumstances," Weston reminds. "Thus, I was not able to show them working together as a unit. This is where the Phantom Reporter came in so handy. In has war-correspondent capacity, he was able to go round and meet them all individually, or even hear second-hand tales about them. It was fun imagining what they would have got up to during this theatre of war, and once you thought of the most logical answers to that proposition the story practically wrote itself."

Though he's drawn the Twelve for the length of their series so far, SPEARHEAD marks the first time Weston has written them as well, an experience made all the easier by Straczynski's deft prior characterization.

THE TWELVE: SPEARHEAD preview art by Chris Weston
"Well all credit must go to JMS who defined the characters so clearly in the first place," remarks Weston. "Stay true to [the characters'] individual idiosyncrasies and it's hard not to hear their voices in your head. In fact it's hard to make them shut up!"

His experience drawing the characters also helped Weston get inside their heads even before the prospect of writing them came about.

"When drawing the characters I would think very carefully about the body language I gave them," he explains. "The Blue Blade would always strike flamboyant poses: hand on hips, chest puffed out, his saber swooshing through the air. By contrast, the Phantom Reporter would tend to slouch around with an air of hesitancy. I tried to make Dynamic Man strut around stiffly, like he's got a broom up his arse. These kinds of details are my contribution to their creation, so I like to think I'm almost as intimate with them as Joe is."

Situating the characters in their original time period, Weston's found that they don't act altogether differently than they do in their current, present-day setting.

"These characters are already out of their comfort zones, being in the middle of a World War," he notes. "While this will give them a sense of purpose denied them in the modern age, I do try to hint at the hairline fractures in their personalities that lead to the breakdowns we see in the main series. Dennis Burton, the Laughing Mask, is every inch the cold-blooded killer we see later on, for example."

THE TWELVE: SPEARHEAD preview art by Chris Weston
Weston promises fans a special packed full of action and adventure, as he lists off everything else readers can expect from THE TWELVE: SPEARHEAD:

"I've barely scraped the surface! Wait 'til you see Rockman's incredible burrowing machine! Readers will finally get to see Electro in action, in a way that would make the Sentry proud! Captain America makes an action-packed cameo! You've got the Red Skull, Sergeant Fury and his Howling Commandos, underground missile factories, hyper-detailed military hardware, the Whizzer, the Blue Blade showing he's the best there is at what he does, occult instruments-not to mention a myriad of Golden Age Marvel guest appearances.

"I could go on, but I don't want to ruin it. It's been too long since we spent any time with these incredible characters. I think readers will enjoy this chance to reacquaint themselves with them before JMS and I finish the main series. And, yes, it will get finished!"


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Yes I love Twelve. Thank you Marvel for another great series that looks just hot. Twelve, Cap, Fury, Commandos, Red Skull - that is totally awesome.