Wonder Twins #1 – Mark Russell, Writer; Stephen Byrne, Artist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Playing It Straight (Well, Mostly)
Ray: Mark Russell has become comics’ go-to guy for doing offbeat, politically influenced takes on obscure comic and cartoon properties. He turned The Flintstones into a satire on religion, Snagglepuss into a ruthless take on 1950s homophobia and the red scare, and he just debuted a new Red Sonja series that seems to have a lot to say about imperialism and government incompetence. Now he’s turning his eye on the most unlikely property yet – Wonder Twins, the campy kid sidekicks from the Super-Friends series. The third series from the Wonder Comics line is very different from the plot-heavy Young Justice and Naomi, and seems to want to send up teen superhero comics and high school tropes. Zan and Jayna are now reinvented as “foreign exchange students” from the planet of Exxor, which is highly advanced – except for the fact that everyone goes into heat when there’s a thunderstorm. Zan explains this in graphic and hilarious detail during a cultural presentation at school. Stephen Byrne’s glossy, 50’s-influenced art is a perfect fit for the oddball property.
Zan and Jayna are still interns for the Justice League, but Russell’s take on the League is very different from the calmly competent take of the cartoon that inspired this series. Batman is vaguely annoyed by their presence, Superman brought them to Earth and enrolled them in school without telling anyone after some vague disaster/tragedy, and they’re trying to track down Mxyzptlk and seem vaguely distracted. The bulk of the issue is devoted to Zan and Jayna’s friendly sibling rivalry, their growing pains at school (including Zan getting his first Thunderlust at a highly inopportune time), and some hilarious uses of their powers.
I don’t know exactly where this series is going yet – at times it feels more like a Boom book than a DC Comic due to its sardonic take on high school life and its casual approach to superheroics, but it’s unlike anything else DC is putting out. DC seems to be taking a lot of chances with the Wonder Comics line so far, and I’d say they’re three for three. Bring on Dial H for Hero!
Corrina: Because of Russell’s unique take on properties, I had no idea what to expect from his Wonder Twins #1. Superhero satire? Goofy commentary on modern society? Political drama?
Instead, he plays this mostly straight, as a teen title about twins in high school who have all the problems normal humans have fitting in, plus their alien status. There’s a great deal of humor, especially in the way the twins dispose of Mxyzptlk and in the portrayal of the Justice League, but there’s a sense of sadness that underlies it all, as Zan and Jayna hope to re-start their lives in a strange new place. They are really lonely, they want to fit in, and there’s clearly more to this tragedy that will play out over the series.
It’s a fine start.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.