Wonder Twins #3 – Mark Russell, Writer; Stephen Byrne, Artist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Good But Odd Tonal Shifts
Ray: Stephen Byrne may be one of the hardest-working men in comics right now. Not only did he just debut his OGN Mera: Tidebreaker to strong reviews, but he has a regular DC book at the same time! Wonder Twins, the most oddball book in the Wonder Comics line, took a dark turn last issue with the disturbing Drunkula subplot but rebounds nicely in Wonder Twins #3 with a hilariously absurd and yet surprisingly heartfelt issue focusing on the twins’ beloved pet monkey Gleek. Despite the overall light tone, there’s a lot of stuff going on in this comic as Russell continues to expand the supporting cast and the weird mix of villains. While Zan is busy bonding with Gleek, Jayna makes a friend in the form of the pun-named Polly Math, a young genius whose father Filo Math has been working with Lex Luthor. Desperate to get out from under the evil genius’ thumb, Filo agrees to join the pathetic Legion of Annoyance to pay off his debt.
There’s been a lot of parodies of bad supervillain teams, but few reach the level of absurdity this one does. I love the idea that the legitimately powerful Scrambler – who comes up with an incredibly dangerous plan to take over the President’s mind – is constantly trying and failing to get the group to get more ambitious. No, the losers would rather plot to capture the Wonder Twins in a hilarious series of misadventures. Gleek gets to play the hero of the issue, as his rescue is spliced with shots of his past life as a circus monkey. Animal lovers will find some of these scenes a little hard to read, but the bond between Zan and his pet is easily the sweetest part of the issue. Russell’s take on Superman in a brief guest appearance has some powerful lines as well. Russell’s known for his political satire and he’s raised some questions here, but it wouldn’t work nearly as well without the rock-solid character work.
Corrina: I seem to be more sensitive to tonal shifts in stories (I have a long post I should write about Shazam), but I did have a problem with simply hand-waving off Drunkala and his victims this issue. All those dead people plus addicted Drunkala seem to have existed just to teach Zan and Jayna a lesson. I know Superman gives a little bit of insight but hand-waving so many deaths seems a little bit callous. Surely, not every person Superman catches goes on to murder maybe a dozen people?
That’s not to say I disliked this issue. I liked the swap back to a lighter tone, I just have a little bit of whiplash.
The plot reminded me of a Batman ’66 episode, not a bad tone to evoke, especially with the incompetent villains and the deathtrap via plastic. I loved Gleek’s role in their rescue. I also enjoyed seeing Jayna make friends at her new school, even though that seems an obvious conflict set-up between the two new friends, with the father turning evil. (And he seems to have had a very abrupt plot-induced change of heart while working for Luthor.)
Overall, Wonder Twins has been enjoyable but I don’t quite know what kind of series it’s trying to be.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.