Wonder Twins #2
At Lexicon Private Prison, an older gentleman sits in a cell, reading a book about the history of justice when he's brought a tray of food by one of the guards. The man doesn't want to eat the awful food - it probably isn't even fit to legally feed to animals - and the two men get into an argument when electricity of the decidedly non-romantic kind sparks between them. Turns out the jailed criminal is someone called the Scrambler, and he possesses the power to switch minds and bodies with anyone dumb enough to get close to him. The guard - trapped in the Scrambler's body - begs the Scrambler to let him out of the jail cell, and he does. He then asks for the Scrambler to switch them back, and he does, but not before making sure that the guard is the one locked up while the Scrambler gets to get away free.
At Morris High School, the Honors Club is told that they can't go to the Planetarium because of budget cuts, but they've found another place that will let them in for free, so their field trip is still on. Zan, sweet summer child that he is, hopes that they're going to the zoo or the aquarium or the robot factory or something equally scientific and educational, but that isn't the sort of universe that they inhabit, so of course their bus trundles them off to Lexicon Private Prison (and Call Center.) Inside, as the students are given a tour of the place, they witness some of the prisoners on their calls, helping to set up home security for people. Jayna challenges the need for ninety-percent of the people there to be in prison at all, which promptly gets her thrown out of prison.
In another part of town, Beast Boy is shooting a commercial for Hot Mess fruity pies when he's introduced to the Wonder Twins, who will be learning how to be heroes from Gar, given that he's one of the most experienced teen heroes out there. Zan is excited to see what he has to look forward to, while Jayna is a little more skeptical.
The Scrambler finds an old, still-working phone booth and calls Lex Luthor, asking when the next Legion of Doom meeting is. Unfortunately, they've already filled his position on the Legion, but Luthor offers him a position on a lesser team where he can prove himself, dazzle Lex.
Back at the Hall of Justice, Gar connects with Zan and Jayna, talking about the prison system on Earth versus on Exxor - the latter of which doesn't have prisons, only community college. Gar then gives the Wonder Twins their first assignment - taking down the League of Annoyance, featuring none other than the Scrambler himself!
Other members of the League of Annoyance include Praying Mantis, Aunt Phetamine (who has spent the night working on a plan to recruit evil children), and Drunkula (or Baron Nightblood, as he insists on calling himself.)
While Zan and Jayna hang out at the Hall of Justice - Zan discovering a monkey up for adoption and Jayna wondering how many customer service prisoners she's spoken to over the phone - they get an alert that Drunkula is on the move - and he is. Lamenting the fact that no one will allow him time to become sober and get his life together, Drunkula attacks a couple outside the cheekily named Sir Loin's Steakhouse, but Zan and Jayna manage to save the day and cart him off first to the local police department, where there isn't enough room for him, and then to Lexicon, where they'll have to find a place for him because they're out of private holding cells.
The next morning, while Zan gets a very familiar looking blue monkey delivered, Jayna laments the prison system they're stuck in and wonders if they're doing any good at all. That's when they get the notification that Drunkula is ready for his arraignment. They arrive at Lexicon to pick him up, only to discover that the vampire had been kept in the drunk tank overnight and has once again fallen off the wagon.
If the first issue of this mini-series was an examination of the twins’ life on Earth and them questioning their place on it, this second issue is more the twins questioning how Earth works, and why it’s so markedly different from their lives on Exxor. Mark Russell hands in another strong, funny, cheeky strip, one with some fantastically funny references and some sharp, witty observations that really work well. Setting the twins up with Beast Boy to learn more about Earth and earn some cred as teen heroes is a stroke of genius – he’s used to being in the limelight in more ways than just one, and he’s a good guide for them, especially considering that he’s a shapeshifter himself. Their dynamic is one that works extremely well, given that there’s very little that gar hasn’t seen or experienced for himself.
The League of Annoyance is a clever little group to pull together – low tier villains who have awful gimmicks and even worse plans to take over the world, with terribly punny names. What works here is that they’re not simply played for jokes – Drunkula, or Baron Nightblood, as he insists he be called – is struggling with his own identity and issues. Sure, he’s a villain, but he’s a villain who wants to be healthy and addiction-free, a chance he’s not given because ultimately the system just doesn’t care about villains and criminals. This seems like a big opportunity for Jayna and Zan to step up and change how things work on Earth, and one wonders what, exactly, they’ll do in this situation. Might all of these cons somehow end up in community college? Surely that – education in general – would be a better way to rehabilitate them than having them do low-paying customer service jobs?
We get a little bit more of life on Exxor this issue, and while Russell isn’t doing much to build up their past, the little bit he’s giving are definitely entertaining, and serve to help us understand who these characters are a bit more.
Stephen Byrne’s art is, as always, a perfect fit for this book and this story, being bright and toony, but still expressive and fleshed out. The characters feel real, if animated, and emotions are clearly depicted and conveyed. Byrne’s Beast Boy is an especially great take on the character – charming, handsome, just boyish enough – it’s easy to see why Gar Logan is a star and not just a superhero. Even the villain designs are great – both Praying Mantis and Aunt Phetamine could have walked off an episode of the 1960s Batman series.
A well-written, intelligent, funny issue with some smart, sharp social commentary, this book truly is a wonder.
Wonder Twins #2 – Scrambled
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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