Wonder Twins #1
It’s early morning at Morris High School – home of the Wolf Pack – and a very bored Jayna is on school announcement duty, letting the student body know that the science lab’s hamster has passed away. A very shy, reserved individual, Jayna’s been given this unlucky task because her teachers feel it’d bring her out of her shell.
In another part of school, her twin brother Zan is in history class, giving his class an introduction to his home planet Exxor, a place where there’s no poverty, violence, or crime, and where the food is bland protein globules. Exxorians are a modest, sensible, quiet group of people...until there’s a thunderstorm that drives everyone of age wild with lust. Zan’s teacher cuts his speech short as his classmates look on in horror.
After class, Zan and Jayna walk to their new job as interns at the Hall of Justice. They’ve been on Earth awhile, it seems, and while they haven’t really been able to figure out how anything really works, they’re willing to give this new job a chance. Well, Zan is. Jayna’s feeling more awkward than usual. Inside the Hall of Justice, Superman fills Batman and Wonder Woman in on the situation with Jan and Zayna – they're changelings who can take the form of water (Zan) and the form of animals (Jayna). Diana is underwhelmed by this concept, and Superman explains that he’s known their father for awhile and he’s doing him a favor by bringing them to Earth, since they would have been outcasts after staying on Exxor. Batman asks Superman to keep them out of his way. The Wonder Twins then get a tour of the Hall of Justice, learning that it’s a dispatch center for superheroes to ensure that everyone’s used to the best of their ability. They then come to the old control room where they see the supercomputer, which is mostly used to listen to music now that everyone has cell phones. Once there, they find out that a body was discovered in the park – one showing signs relating to the fifth dimension. Realizing that Mr. Mxyzptlk is in their dimension, Superman calls a code red. While the League goes away to deal with their latest catastrophe, Zan and Jayna try to get to know the supercomputer, but all it can really seem to do is play them music.
Later, the teenagers are on their way to another day of school when they decide to race each other. Jayna wins, and that’s only the beginning of Zan’s bad luck, because later in the day, there’s a thunderstorm that’s caused by Mxyzptlk, and it kickstarts Zan’s thunderlust – the thing that makes Exxorians wild with lust. It’s an embarrassing moment for him, and he earns the nickname Thunderlust at school.
At the Hall of Justice, Jayna talks to Diana about what happened, and Batman finds out soon enough too. Though Zan is embarrassed, Bruce shares an embarrassing childhood memory of his own to make the Exxorian teenager feel better, as does Clark. The Trinity then walk away to deal with their fifth dimensional problem, leaving the Wonder Twins alone with the supercomputer. Zan is feeling better about going back to school, but before he can continue his conversation with his sister, Mxyzptlk appears and introduces himself to them. As he starts to get all grandiose about who he is and his plans, Jayna has the supercomputer to send him back to the fifth dimension, and much like Zan, finally starts to feel as though she’s getting the hang of Earth.
It’s rare that a recently-published comic from the Big Two actually has me laughing out loud, but this issue managed to do that a couple of times. Part origin-story, part-coming-of-age story, this first issue is a fine introduction to Zan and Jayna of Exxor – or a fine reintroduction for fans of past incarnations of the characters. The issue is filled with some pretty brilliant jokes, the stand out being Zan congratulating Hawkman for finding a body in the park. Though the twins have clearly been through a lot, we’re not given the whole story for why Superman brought them to Earth, beyond learning that there’s some nebulous reason why they would have been outcasts on Exxor. It’s something that will likely be addressed in future issues, but for now, having them be fish out of water on Earth definitely works, even if it’s not addressed why they’re the Wonder Twins (since there’s no relation to Wonder Woman), or why their chest emblems resemble Superman’s (since there’s no relation to Krypton.) Granted, those details are ultimately unimportant to the story.
Mark Russell takes a few interesting liberties with the characters that doesn’t really mesh with other versions of them. It makes sense for the world he builds here, but laid against the greater backdrop of the current DC Universe, especially since there’s an insistence that the Wonder Comics line is in continuity, it makes far less sense. One of the more jarring moments is when Diana says “That’s underwhelming. I am underwhelmed,” in regards to learning about the twins’ powers. It’s a funny moment, but again, knowing what we know about Diana, it doesn’t make sense when one is trying to reconcile it with her other characterizations. That said, the camaraderie between Diana, Bruce, and Clark is excellent, and I’m definitely excited to see them be more playful and friendly with each other.
Jayna’s takedown of Mxyxptlk is done a little too easily in this issue, but then as a villain, he wasn’t really the focus of the story. While it’s adept at proving how resourceful she is, and it allows her to feel more at home, one wonders if the imp may not be a bigger villain for them down the road – he could prove to be an interesting foil for them, given how wild and bizarre their home planet is and how wild and bizarre Mxy himself is.
Stephen Byrne’s art here is perfect, and it complements Russell’s script and story aesthetic perfectly. Comics are a visual medium and there are few artists who would have made Russell’s jokes land as well as Byrne is able to – the only other one who really comes to mind is Amanda Conner. There’s a modern, updated Hanna-Barbera feel that Byrne is able to imbue this world with, which makes perfect sense, given Jayna and Zan’s animated origins. The book is light, breezy, and easy, which is a welcome change from the darkness that many comics are currently embroiled in.
A fantastic start to a bright new mini-series, Russell and Byrne's Wonder Twins promises to be a ton of subversive, charming fun.
Wonder Twins #1: Total Refreshment
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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