Much has been said about the delays with the final issues of Marvel’s limited series The Twelve. But now, four years after it was launched and months after artist Chris Weston announced that he’d finished the final issue late last year, The Twelve is back on track with #9 coming out earlier this month and #10 hot on its heels this week. And when you think about the story itself – World War II heroes being frozen away for over 60 years only to rejoin society in modern times – it’s somehow apropos that the series would have issues with time. But that’s passed us now, with the future and the finale of these characters’ stories being all that’s left.
“This final arc will start to ramp up to the point of the Blue Blade's murder, as seen in a flash-forward early in the series,” said writer J. Michael Straczynski. “We will see the Blade's murder. We will even see who did it...but just because we're seeing who did it, that doesn't mean we're seeing who did it. The answer is right there in front of you... and it's not, but if you've been following the clues you can start to zero in on the truth.”Weston, who has illustrated the entire series and even wrote the one-shot The Twelve: Spearhead, explains how the Blue Blade’s death sets off a chain of events to cast a new light on these time-displaced heroes.
“The Phantom Reporter begins his own investigation into his housemate's death and he'll unearth some surprising secrets about a couple of his colleagues,” the artist explains. “The readers can look forward to a proper conclusion to the story. Not all the characters make it to the end either.”
There's a mystery inside the mystery,” Straczynski says,” so it's kind of a Chinese puzzle-box in that respect. So we'll be plunged right back into the action, and along the way reveal the origin of more of our characters...discovering inch by inch that at least one of the origins we were told previously is not actually true.’The origin of the twelve heroes at the center of The Twelve lie in the earliest days of Marvel Comics’ history – or Timely’s to be exact, which was the name the company carried until 1950 when it switched to Atlas, and then a decade later, Marvel. Straczynski and Weston have revisited those origins throughout this new series so far, but as the writer says you can’t just believe everything a character tells you.
“Over the remaining issues there are some shocking revelations about one of our characters,” says the writer,” and maybe one of the most brutal, extended fight scenes I've ever written.”
Although the truth about who will – or won’t – survive once the series concludes is a story that’ll only be told in the series itself, both creators were able to reveal their personal favorites amongst the cast they’ve lived with for these past few years.
“That's a tough one. It's a bit like asking me which of my three children I love the most, which is a clichéd response, but an accurate one,” Weston admits. “Each character has their own quirks that I find fun to draw. The Blue Blade with his effete body-language and gap-toothed grin; Mastermind Excello with his spiky eyebrows and wrinkled nose; Dynamic Man with his smug smile and exaggerated mock-heroic posturing... I could go on, but I genuinely find something in all the characters that entertains me. I am going to miss drawing these chaps.”Straczynski shares common ground with Weston when it comes to picking a favorite, but is able to narrow it down a bit.
“It's really hard to say, I like them all,” says JMS. “There's a soft spot in my heart (or my head) for Rockman, just because he's so...Rockish...but in an odd sort of way, probably the two standouts are the Phantom Reporter (because he's our voice into the story) and Mastermind Excello, because he's the one person who can see furthest ahead into the future but who refuses to give an inch to that future in terms of how he styles himself. You'll never, ever pry him out of that signature tuxedo.”
Tuxedo or not, the story of the twelve men and women who make up The Twelve isn’t over after issue 12 ships later this season.“As I typically say in these instances, it depends completely on how many of these characters survive to the end of the series,” says Marvel’s Senior VP of Publishing and the editor of this series, Tom Brevoort. “But that’s always been the intent with the survivors.”
The man responsible for rescuing them from the back issue bins and putting them back into the modern Marvel mix agrees.
“I think that the surviving characters would make a great fit in the MU, and I know there's been some talk about integrating them into it now that the story is complete,” Straczynski reveals. “The characters won the day, resolved the murders, and dealt with the person responsible...but they're still sixty years and more outside the world they know. Where do they go? What do they do? We hint at some of this in the final issue, with at least one surprising cameo from another character in the Marvel U, but there's still so much out there for them to explore.”