Written and Art by Chris Weston
Spearhead features the obscure Golden Age castaways from J. Michael Straczynski’s currently-paused miniseries, The Twelve. This single issue takes us back to WWII to see these heroes on a mission before the accident that led to Straczynski’s miniseries.
As with the miniseries, the narration is handled by the Phantom Reporter. The rest of the cast is participating in random war efforts. The whole story essentially shows what these guys were doing in WWII in the first place, and that gets accomplished well. Weston does a good job looking at different probably aspects of masked vigilantes fighting with the military in WWII Some are dealing with important war efforts, while others without superpowers stand on the sidelines feeling useless. Some are even somewhat traumatized by the horrors of war and concentration camps.
At this point, the Phantom Reporter is brought overseas to cover the US war effort for American propaganda. Soldiers referring to him as “P.R.” can only be the subtle hinting at his public relations role, which is an impressive detail (maybe even more so if it was unintentional and Weston just got tired of typing “Phantom Reporter”).
This one-shot story is separated into three parts following Phantom Reporter as he meets more of the Twelve and Golden Age stars (including one certain captain and one certain super spy cyclops). The part changes are signaled by an editorial box naming that particular part of the issue, which is excessive since the scene change alone should be more than enough to clue readers in to the plot progression. In addition to the speaking down it feels like, these part title editorial boxes also create an unnecessary pause in the story by taking the readers out of the story to let the readers know they are in it.
The book ends with a cliché of a character saying “We’re not the ‘real’ heroes. The soldiers are.” It’s a fine sentiment, but it doesn’t seem to stem from the events that just happened. A better job could have been done tying it in to the story.
The comic is very much in line with Straczynski’s work. From showing Electro’s “Berlin or Bust” being painted on to hinting at Phantom Reporter’s attraction to Black Widow, this definitely takes place with the revived characters but doesn’t really require any familiarity with them to enjoy the work. It’s odd to see spin offs for a stalled miniseries (one I’d very much like to see finished), but I think it’s “spearheading” a commitment on Marvel’s behalf to milk these characters while they can. As long as the works are decent like this and the miniseries, that’s fine.
Weston does the art as well, as he does for the Straczynski miniseries, and it’s the same quality. Everything is generally well done and realistic. It’s jarring to see these bright and colorful costumes mixed in with the faded green fatigues of the military and the gray and gloomy environment of the war. They look purposefully out of place to emphasize the point of the super heroes not being the real heroes, that they’re just eye candy.
All the art is nicely detailed. From wrinkles on faces to crinkles in clothes, the characters are overall good, particularly in certain close ups. The backgrounds and objects in the scenes also have about as much attention to detail as the characters.
But there are some areas that seemed to have missed quality control. Things like big teeth missing outlines, off colors and going a bit overboard in wrinkled and cringing faces every now and then. And I feel bad for Miss America in her three panels showing her face fairly simplified compared to everyone else.
Spearhead is a good one-shot story starring these random characters. If you want to give these Golden Age rescued heroes a chance, give it a look. Give it a look a few times over until the actual miniseries finishes whenever.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10