LIVE weighs in on the politically charged, metaphorical superhero story ''The Twelve'' and the James Bond-ian secret agent saga ''Left on Mission''

By EW Staff
Updated January 18, 2008 at 05:00 AM EST

J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston
(Monthly; issue No. 1 is on sale now)
A dozen Golden Age superheroes are captured by Nazis and then cryogenically preserved (like Captain America…and Ted Williams!) for future use. But Berlin falls before the bad guys can implement their evil, and the heroes rest until they’re discovered — in 2008 — and claimed by the U.S. government. FOR FANS OF… The Invaders, The All-Star Squadron, Encino Man. DOES IT DELIVER? Though the first issue is all setup, you can see where Straczynski’s headed: Uncle Sam’s thrilled to hear an unquestioning chorus of sir-yes-sirs, while the costumed crime fighters will struggle with the meaning of patriotism in a world that’s not as black-and-white as they remember. Though the characters have been cherry-picked from the 1940s Timely Comics line, their earlier adventures (see reprints in the prequel, issue No. 0) were so ludicrously crude they approached outsider art. In other words, Straczynski and Weston are working with a perfectly blank canvas. A- — Sean Howe

Chip Mosher and Francesco Francavilla
(Paperback; on sale now)
Retired secret agent Eric Westfall is dragged away from his pension plan to deal with a female rogue spook who plans to sell sensitive material to the Russian Mob. The catch? The spy-ess in question used to be Westfall’s lover — and she plays the flute! Although it’s the first piece of information that’s really the crucial one here. FOR FANS OF… Casino Royale. DOES IT DELIVER? Alas, Left on Mission is a less successful updating of the spy genre than the last James Bond movie was. Westfall always has a whiff of the Cold War warrior about him, which only gets stronger when, for example, he finds himself at a rave in Ibiza. But writer Mosher keeps matters zipping along at a furious — if not quite Aston Martin-ish — pace, while the result is handsomely illustrated by Francesco Francavilla. As licenses to kill half an hour go, you could do worse. B — Clark Collis