Wonder Twins #1 is another new comic being published under the Wonder Comics banner. As a Wonder Comics title, Wonder Twins #1 will be targeting teen readers. The Wonder Twins are a curious selection for a new title. Personally, I adore the Wonder Twins. They evoke strong feelings of nostalgia since I grew up watching the All New Super Friends Hour, The World’s Greatest Super Friends!, Super-Friends, and Super Friends: The Legendary Super-Powers.
The Wonder Twins did not appear in any comic book until Extreme Justice in 1996. After that, the Wonder Twins made extremely rare and scattered appearances in various comics.
I love Zan and Jayna. They are such great characters. Of course, it is Zan that makes the Wonder Twins so epic. Zan’s power to turn into any form of water is so unbelievably stupid that it becomes great. Zan has the lamest power this side of Arm-Fall-Off Boy. Seriously, Zan is exactly the kind of character that you would see with the Legion of Substitute-Heroes.
The creative team for Wonder Twins #1 is Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne. I have never been impressed with Russell’s writing. I am not familiar with Byrne’s artwork. Hopefully, Russell and Byrne will bring their A-games and deliver a fun and exciting read with this debut issue. Let’s hit this review for Wonder Twins #1.
Words: Mark Russell
Art: Stephen Byrne
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin at Morris High School. Jayna has been made the school public address announcer. Two teachers debate if this is a good way to get Jayna to come out of her shell since she is very introverted.
Jayna announces that today is Heritage Day where the students get an opportunity to talk about their ancestors embarrassed them. We see a classroom with a boy dressed up like the Dutchboy from the Dutch Boy Paint company and with the same haircut. (Some causal racism for your pleasure.) He talks about how the Dutch like mayonnaise on their fries.
Zan is up next. He talks about how he is from Exxor. That life there is perfect. There is no poverty or crime. Every social ill has been conquered. Zan says it’s like Sweden. (Does Russell just trade in stereotypes? Sweden ranks 81st in the global safety index.) But, when there is a thunderstorm all the people of Exxor go insane and become possessed by Thunder Lust. This makes them have sex in a single rhythm with the night. Men become women and women become animals and the night throbs with their pleasure. (Nope. Sorry. Bestiality is neither cool nor funny. And this issue already is starting off weird and creepy. I guess Russell thinks that this is what the “youths” are into these days.)
We cut to Zan and Jayna walking home to the Hall of Justice. We cut to Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in the Hall of Justice. Superman explains who Zan and Jayna are. Superman says that Jayna can turn into any animal and that Zan can turn into water. Wonder Woman comments that Zan’s power is underwhelming while Batman stooges for the camera. (Hi-larious! It is the Trinity playing the Three Stooges for your entertainment! This is the wacky stuff the teens love!)
Superman says that he is friends with the Wonder Twins’ father and agreed to take them to Earth. Evidently, the twins did something back home on Exxor so awful that they can no longer stay on the planet. (Probably incest. Russell thinks the youths of today find incest very cool and funny.)
Suyperman tells Wondy and Bats that he already has them enrolled in school and that the Wonder Twins have been living here for months. (Where? At the Hall of Justice? And Batman would not have known? Really? Maybe they were living at Superman’s fancy condo. Who knows?)
Batman says that Superman should have cleared it with them first. Superman said that he figured to just do the right thing first and then work out the details later. Wonder Woman says that sounds like Batman’s style. (Ummmm, I guess if you have never read a Batman comic before. Batman is the ultimate chess player. Dude plans everything out several steps ahead. Batman has ever single detail worked out. That is why he is crazy obsessive, always prepared and is the world’s greatest detective.)
Batman tells Superman to keep the twins out of his way. (Why would Batman care? This is the same guy who routinely brings in young boys and puts them in a costume and then subjects them to phenomenal danger every single day.)
We see Superman giving the Wonder Twins a tour of the Hall of Justice. We learn that the Hall of Justice is a dispatch center for super-heroes. That not all of the heroes have to respond to every crime if they don’t have to. We see a simple burglar leaving a store and being confronted by Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, John Stewart, Barry Allen, and Hawkman. Then we see Black Lightning being sent to handle an aquatic monster. Black Lightning calls the Hall to complain that he is an electric based super hero and does not mix with water. Black Lightning asks what Aquaman is up to at the moment. (Good that the Hall of Justice lets the heroes avoid these embarrassing situations.)
We see Superman leading the Wonder Twins into the old control room which was once the nerve center of the Hall of Justice. The supercomputer handled their communication and missions. But, that was before cellphones. (What? When has the Justice League ever used cellphones to stay in contact during a mission. They always use earpieces that hook up to a…wait for it…main computer back at the Justice League’s base or satellite. But, hey, Russell has a joke in mind so let us suspend all disbelief so he can be “witty.”)
Superman says that the supercomputer is used nowadays just to listen to music. (There’s that punchline we were waiting for.) Hawkman suddenly yells out for Superman. Hawkman says that they have found a body in a park. Zan yells out, “Congratulations.” (…my sides are splitting I am laughing so hard at this incredible comedy.)
Hawkman says that the body has energy signatures consistent with the Fifth Dimension. Superman immediately sends a code red to the Justice League to meet at the site of the temporal disturbance. That this is the work of Mr. Mxyzptlk. Superman and Hawkman fly off.
The Wonder Twins sit down and wonder what to do next. They watch on Supercomputer’s screen as the Justice League members all get taken down by purple lightning. Jayne says that they need to help the Justice League. Jayne then asks Supercomputer for help. Supercomputer’s face appears on its screen. Supercomputer is happy to have someone talking to it for the first time in a long time.
Jayne asks Supercomputer if it has any records of a trans-dimensional animal that she could shape-shift into and drag somebody back into the Fifth Dimension. The Supercomputer says that it does not have anything. Supercomputer asks if the twins would like to hear some Philip Glass. (What a knee-slapper. And, yes, great job by Russell. I am sure all of the teens in America totally know all about Philip Glass. An 82 year-old music composer known for contemporary classical music. So fresh and topical.)
Zan says that this is no big deal and that the two of them can totally handle this. Zan says that he has bigger fish to fry like becoming the most popular guy in school. (So, the Justice League had all been taken out and these two dipshits are going to talk about how to be popular in school. Ooookay.)
Zan says that his plan to be popular started with him joining the hockey team. Jayna says that Zan doesn’t even know how to play hockey. Zan says that he used his ice powers to become the ice rink so their school’s hockey team could practice. Zan says that the hockey coach called him indispensable.
Zan says he will then get a varsity jacked and a cool pet like an alligator and be the coolest kid at school and get a totally sweet nickname like H20. Suddenly, Superman appears and he tells the Wonder Twins that they should go home. The rest of the Justice League enters the room. All of the Justice Leaguers are beat up and have the purple 5th Dimension energy coming off of them. Superman says that they managed to hold off Mr. Mxyzptlk but that he will be back. Zan then tells Jayna that he knew the Leaguers could handle it.
We cut to the next day with the Wonder Twins walking to school. (Is anything of actual substance going to ever happen in this issue? No? Oh, okay.) They decide to race to school. They bump fists and yell, “Wonder Twin powers activate!” (This is the first cool moment of this entire issue.)
Jayna turns into a bird. Zan turns into….well, water. Zan pours into the sewer system. We cut to the Justice Leaguers planning to use a tachyon trap to capture Mr. Mxyzptlk. We then cut to Zan getting lost in the sewer system. We then cut to Zan at PE class. The boys are running around the track. The sky turns purple. The coach looks up and says, “Damn. it. Trans-dimensional death clouds.” (Russell is trying way too hard to be cute. This feels so forced.)
Lightning starts crackling. Then Zan starts to freak out. The coach asks Zan what is wrong. Zan says that it is the Thunder Lust.
We shift to the end of the school day. Zan meets up with Jayna. Zan is upset and says he wants to leave school immediately. Some of the other kids start calling Zan, “Thunder Lust.” Zan says that he has the worst nickname. Zan tells Jayna to stay away from him. That he will take her down with him. Zan says that he is never coming back to this school.
We cut to the cafeteria at the Hall of Justice. Jayna is eating lunch with Wonder Woman. Jayna tells Wonder Woman about Zan getting the Thunder Lust at school. Superman and Zan enter the cafeteria. Wonder Woman tells Superman that Zan got his Thunder Lust. Zan is embarrassed. Batman then enters and asks what is going on. Superman tells Batman that Zan became a man today. (Get it? It is like Zan got the male Exxorian equivalent to a female human’s period. This is just the kind of quality humor all teens want these days.)
Batman then relays a story of how when he was in high school he passed a love poem to a girl in class. That the teacher saw it and read it to the entire class. That Batman was embarrassed. (Has Russell ever read a Batman comic? Like ever? Bruce became a hardened badass who cut himself from all emotions except anger after his parents were killed when he was 7 or 8 years-old. How does this scene even remotely sound like Bruce Wayne?)
Clark then tells a story about how he was trying to impress girls at his high school and then accidentally fell into the girl’s bathroom when he leaned up on the door. (Okay, see that is using a character to carry out your lame joke that is at least consistent with that character’s past and personality. I could totally see Clark doing this.) The Trinity then leave to go and take the tachyon trap and capture Mr. Mxyzptlk.
We then cut to the Wonder Twins sitting at the Supercomputer. Suddenly, Mr. Mxyzptlk appears in the scene. Jayna asks Mr. Mxyzptlk who he is. Mr. Mxyzptlk says his name and introduces himself to the Wonder Twins. Jayna asks Supercomputer to replay Mr. Mxyzptlk’s answer to her question backwards. Supercomputer does so. Mr. Mxyzptlk cries that it is not supposed to work like that. Mr. Mxyzptlk then gets transported back to the Fifth Dimension.
Jayna asks Zan if that was the guy Superman was worried about. Zan says that he thinks so. Zan congratulates Jayna on her good job. Jayna thanks him and says that she is getting a hang of this place. End of issue.
The Good: Wonder Twins #1 was a disappointing read. However, there were some bright spots to this issue. Russell delivers a very character driven story. Wonder Twins #1 is all about examining the characters of Zan and Jayna and giving the reader a good sense of their personalities. Sure it is done to the exclusion of just about everything else. But, still, the fact is that if you enjoy stories that are intensely character driven then you will probably enjoy how Russell handles Zan and Jayna in this issue.
There is no doubt at all that Russell gives the reader a good sense of Zan and Jayna’s personalities. Jayna comes across like a realistic high school girl. Jayna is a smart and good kid, but she is not overly talented in any one area. It is not like Russell presents Jayna as an unrealistic perfect version of a female high school student where she is a master or martial arts or is a brilliant award winning scientist.
Nope. Jayna is just your normal teen-age girl who is a bit uncomfortable in her own skin and would rather blend into the background than attract attention. I knew plenty of kids like this back in high school.
Russell manages to make Jayna feel like a real genuine teen-age girl rather than some idealized version of a teen-age girl. This is smart. This makes Jayna so much easier to identify with and relate to in this story. The reader immediately relates to Jayna’s character and can sympathize with hero stage in life at this moment.
Russell achieves the same success with Zan. Zan also feels like a genuine realistic high school boy. Zan has the usual bravado of a teen-age boy along with an inflated sense of self worth and status. Zan, like most boys, is just focused on trying to be the most popular and coolest kid in class. Zan’s dream of having a varsity jacket, a cool pet like an alligator, and a cool nickname like H20 is just perfect. That is exactly how a teen-age boy would daydream about himself.
This contrasts perfect with the second half of the issue where Russell deals with Zan’s embarrassing situation at school involving his Thunder Lust. This also perfectly nails that awkward moment in a boy’s life where something embarrassing happens like getting a boner at school in front of classmates. Zan’s embarrassment and his desire to never go back to school again is a feeling that almost anyone can relate to. Almost all readers have had that embarrassing teen moment in high school.
These moments with Zan and Jayna’s characters are the points in this issue where Russell’s writing rings the most true and has the most impact on the reader. Russell also manages to create some nice chemistry between Zan and Jayna. The two have a close and natural bond as twins. The twins balance and complement each other’s personality.
I loved Supercomputer. This is such a great campy character that perfectly fits the mood of this title. Supercomputer also provides the friendly supporting cast member for the Wonder Twins. I dig the concept of the Supercomputer being outdated tech that the Justice League no longer uses. This will allow Supercomputer to find a new life in these teen-age super heroes.
I dig the choice of villains for Wonder Twins #1. Mr. Mxyzptlk is a fantastic wacky Silver Age character. The Fifth Dimension imp is the perfect match for a title like the Wonder Twins. I also loved how Jayna defeated Mr. Mxyzptlk. That was a surprising twist that I did not see coming. It was a good way to show off the cleverness of the naturally shy Jayna.
Stephen Byrne provided some fantastic artwork for Wonder Twins #1. Byrne’s style of art is the perfect match for Wonder Twin #1’s mood. Byrne delivers clean and smooth lined artwork that wonderfully reflects the youthful tone of a teen-title. Byrne does an excellent job with the character’s facial expressions which helps inject nice emotion into Russell’s script.
The Bad Unfortunately, Wonder Twins #1 has its fair share of warts. This issue is poorly plotted and paced. Russell opens Wonder Twins #1 with a four page scene at the high school to engage in a weird heritage day about how your ancestors embarrassed you. This was such a painfully contrived way to give us backstory on Exxor.
We then get four pages introducing the Wonder Twins to the Hall of Justice. This was a shallow scene that was about two pages too long. This is a reoccurring theme as the story often wanders about and fails to deliver much in the way of real substance.
Russell then delivers a five page scene of the Justice League going after Mxyzptlk and the Twins blabbering on about Zan’s goal of being popular. Again, Russell takes maybe three pages of actual content and stretches it out of five pages. The story begins to get bogged down as Russell gets stuck in neutral.
We then get three pages of the twins walking to school. That is it. Again, this is something that should have been two pages at the absolute most. I know we needed the one page glory shot of the twins activating their powers, but the other two pages should have been just one page. This three page scene made an already slow and meandering story feel even worse.
We then get one page of Zan in Thunder Lust. And then one page of Zan and Jayna at the end of the school day. Then Russell gives us three pages of our teens talking to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in the cafeteria. Once again, Russell takes an already slow and ambling story and doubles down on the lack of plot progression and pacing. All so Russell can awkwardly shove some “humor” into the story involving Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
Then we get a one page scene with Mr. Mxyzptlk appearing and immediately being defeated Jayna. And with that the issue abruptly ends and the reader is left wondering what was the point and purpose of this issue. The reader feels like they just wasted 15 minutes of their life.
The framework for Wonder Twins #1 is atrocious. Russell strings together a bunch of scenes that all feel like introductory scenes. The result is that the reader never feels like the story ever progresses or has a purpose in mind. The flow of Wonder Twins #1 is terrible. All of the scenes feel awkward and choppy as the reader lurches from scene to scene.
There is so much time wasting and meandering about in general with Wonder Twins #1. Russell seems to get distracted by constantly trying to be humorous to the point that the actual content of the story becomes secondary. Therefore, the story meanders and loses focus at times. The pacing is slow as Russell has zero sense of urgency or purpose in moving the story forward.
Russell also fails to install any long-range, medium range, and short range plot lines. We get one short range plot-line concerning Mr. Mxyzptlk that is resolved with in this issue. Russell then hints at a long-range plot line concerning the mystery as to why the Wonder Twins had to leave their home planet. That is it. It is vitally important that a debut issue of a new title quickly install several plot-lines of varying degrees in order to get the reader invested in coming back for more.
Russell’s story is quite shallow. There is little depth or nuance to the story. Russell tries to be humorous with this story so that the reader might be distracted from the fact that there is little actual substance in Wonder Twins #1. Russell’s story is more bubble gum than anything else. There are times when Russell’s story simply feels dumb.
Russell’s humor is average at best and flat out bad at worst. Some of Russell’s humor falls flat and simply is not funny. At other moments, Russell’s humor is generic and average. And at other times, Russell’s humor feels forced and lame. Wonder Twins #1 reads exactly like what it is. A story aimed at teen-agers that is being written by a man who is 48 years-old. Russell’s humor reads like what a man pushing 50 would think that teens would find funny.
Much of Russell’s humor is a swing and a miss or just awkward and uncomfortable. More often than not Russell awkwardly forces characters into situations that do not make sense or are inconsistent with the character’s personality just for the sake of Russell’s joke that he wants to deliver. This is the worst kind of humor. Talented writers know how to deliver comedy in a seamless fashion. Talented writers also know how to deliver comedy that still has the characters acting consistent with their core personalities. Russell completely fails at this over and over again in Wonder Twins #1.
Wonder Twins would greatly benefit having a much younger writer than a guy who is almost 50. DC needs to target a writer in his 20’s who can still relate to teen-agers and have some idea of what teen-agers find cool and funny. Because, Russell, with his old man references, is clearly not in touch with what teen-agers find cool and funny.
Overall: Wonder Twins #1 comes across as rather dumb, slow and pointless. That is not a good recipe for success. This issue is certainly not work the high $4.00 cover price. The reader can get so much more bang for their entertainment dollar these days. There are definitely plenty of other teen super hero titles on the market that offer a far better product and are more worth your hard earned money.