Regular cover by Stephen Byrne
Wonder Twins #1 Review
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Stephen Byrne
32 pages for $3.99
Solicit: Exiled from their home planet, alien heroes Zan and Jayna must navigate life as teens on Earth at South Metropolis High School, where they’re even bigger outsiders than the typical awkward young adults. Under the watchful eye of Superman, the brother and sister pull monitor duty at the Hall of Justice as interns, while also trying to overcome the pitfalls of Zan’s brash confidence and Jayna’s shy but streetwise persona. If you think you know the Wonder Twins, think again-this book takes the form of the unexpected.
Mark Russell has earned a reputation as a writer that takes concepts that probably shouldn’t work (a Prez revival? a smart, satirical Flintstones?) and getting some really great material from them. Now he’s cast his eye on the Wonder Twins, alien siblings with hilariously limited shape shifting powers best known for their appearances on the Superfriends cartoon in the 70s and 80s. Zan and Jayna have been brought to Earth by Superman as a favor to their father, after an unrevealed incident on their home planet. Now they’re attending high school and interning at the Hall of Justice. Zan is overconfident, thinking he’ll be Big Man on Campus within a year. Jayna is more timid, but clever. Russell’s trademark wit is in full effect here, filling the script with almost throwaway jokes, like the weather report warning about trans-dimensional death clouds during an attack by Mister Mxyptlyk. There is a hilarious sequence with Zan hitting what is essentially his species’ version of puberty in front of the whole school, leading to a pretty great scene where Superman and Batman share their own tales of teenage trauma. Bendis will of course bend over backwards to tell you that this book is in continuity, but Wonder Twins exists in kind of a timeless bubble, so don’t worry too much when Superman makes references to the League operating out of the Hall of Justice for years (they haven’t) or if some characters don’t line up exactly to how they’re portrayed in other books (they don’t).
I’ve seen Stephen Byrne’s name here and there over the past couple of years, most notably the JLA/Power Rangers crossover from 2017. The Irish artist does a great job here, with his expressive characters and strong storytelling. His art has an almost animated quality to it and his colors really pop off the page. It almost looks like this could be a modern sequel to Superfriends. I don’t know if Byrne or letterer Dave Sharpe gets the credit for this, but there are some hilarious posters scattered across the walls of the high school. For example “Fall Dance Theme: Delusions of Grandeur.”
I know they’re kind of a joke these days, but I always loved the Wonder Twins. Russell and Byrne do a terrific job bringing the characters to the present day and embracing their inherent silliness. I’m definitely looking forward to more of this series.
Rating: BUY IT