Wonder Twins: Activate! by Mark Russell

details
Title: Wonder Twins
Volume: 1.
Story Arc: Activate!.
Universe: Wonder Comics.
Writer(s): Mark Russell.
Artist(s): Stephen Byrne.
Colourist(s): Stephen Byrne.
Letterer(s): Dave Sharpe.
Publisher: DC Comics.

Format
:
Paperback.
Release Date: November 19th, 2019.
Pages: 1.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401294649.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

thoughts

With the launch of Young Justice, creator Brian Michael Bendis curated the sub-imprint of Wonder Comics which now includes Naomi, Dial H for Hero, Amethyst, and Wonder Twins. Targeting a younger audience by tackling themes of identity, purpose, and heroism, these series look to inspire younglings and illustrate their crisis during their very fragile adolescent period in life. Brought back from The All-New Super Friends Hour (1977-1978), writer Mark Russell attempts to give the dynamic twins the pizzazz they need to draw the attention of readers around the world. After all, there is no better way to look at teenage life on Earth but through the eyes of outsiders.

What is Wonder Twins: Activate! about? The story follows alien twins Zan and Jayna in their time on Earth as students at South Metropolis High School and as interns at the Hall of Justice. Exiled from their home planet, they are left to understand the intricacies of relationships amongst earthlings while also deciphering the global, social and economic issues of modern society while remaining under the wings of Superman. With their unique powers (Zan can transform into water while Jayna can transform into any animal) unveiled only once they touch hands and shout “Wonder Twin powers, activate!”, these two youngsters look into doing their own share of justice as they search for their place on Earth.

“On Earth, the most important power you can have isn’t shape-shifting. It isn’t flight, or strength… Or invulnerability. It’s seeing everything wrong with this world… And somehow not going crazy.”

— Mark Russell

With the first volume collecting Wonder Twins issues #1-6 and a confirmed sequel volume entitled Wonder Twins: The Fall and Rise of the Wonder Twins collecting issues #7-12, this comic book series looks to do things differently by drawing upon humour and satire to depict the bizarre and laughable problems of humanity through a social commentary on various ideas such as prison overcrowding or even rehabilitation in the United States. Writer Mark Russell does an oddly good job in integrating such heavy concepts into such a playful and campy story arc but the execution often failed to incite any jovial emotions. In fact, the satire in which this story revels leaned towards irritation rather than admiration, especially with the lame villains, e.g. The Scrambler (and his ability to mind-switch) or even the League of Annoyance (a drop-out version of the League of Villains). This tone thus conquered over the narrative and made most of the story’s threats seem so irrelevant in the end.

To capture the quirky nature of this comic book series while illustrating its much more thoughtful sequences with accuracy, writer Mark Russell is accompanied by penciler and colourist Stephen Byrne. While the result is consistent, flashy, and vibrant, there were several character designs that left a lot to be desired, including Superman’s odd shape. A lot of emotions are also evident through facial expressions but lack in subtlety as they sometimes come off as overtly obvious. Similar to other titles within the Wonder Comics imprint, Wonder Twins also makes use of creative panel structures to convey the story, breaking the barriers set by traditional panels.

Wonder Twins: Activate! is a comical yet slightly bizarre tale of justice through the eyes of two twin aliens trying to do what’s right on Earth.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for this copy!

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15 comments

  • I remember watching the cartoon long, long ago. How it had that bit of ridiculousness to it, but was also entertaining in its own way. Hopefully this can work for its target audience today as the cartoon mostly did for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m impressed that you still remember these two! I never got to see these two in action but they have been included in some more recent animated iterations. I’m sure a younger audience will appreciate the Wonder Comcis line-up a lot more than I do too.

      Like

  • I’ve never heard of this series before, but there certainly are a lot of twins stories out there! From the ones that I read they usually have “opposite” powers or personalities too, so you can relate to one or the other…or both 😄 I would be quite interested in seeing how some heavier concepts are integrated in the story though 😊 Thanks for sharing Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading, Juliette! It’s definitely funny to see how people tackle the twins idea. I think it’s something that has often intrigued every non-twins person in the world just because of how fascinating the idea it is hahaha And yes, it is a bit weirdly tackled through satire but the heavier concepts are indeed very important! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • It’s great that these Wonder Comics titles are coming out and aimed at a particular age range, there should always be a comic for everyone and I firmly believe that the inspirational aspects of superheroes is something positive for younger readers to latch on to and take to heart.

    That being said, I really don’t think these are for me (although I do plan to check out Bendis’s Legion of Superheroes, mainly out of curiosity and because of how it ties to his Superman story). It’s a shame that the story here isn’t more successful in conveying the deeper themes and maintaining a coherent and consistent tone – I think the art looks okay (although not really to my liking) and probably suitable to the age-range.

    Great review Lashaan, I haven’t read anything by Mark Russell – I do however have an IDW Judge Dredd mini-series written by him on my virtual reading pile. Will be interesting to see how that’s handled as Judge Dredd is something that is filled with subtext and interesting real-world commentary. Then again, IDW’s Judge Dredd titles have been hit and more often don’t live up to the Rebellion/2000ad “original” Dredd. Wow, tangent – sorry!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am completely with you there. I think these Wonder Comics titles will be a great hit for a younger audience and were never really meant to impress all ages. I do wish it had subtle elements that only adults could appreciate but I feel like once you scrutinize these stories too much, you’ll lose its appeal…

      So far, I’ve been exploring these Wonder Comics out of curiosity too. My expectations are pretty low and I’m always hoping for a good surprise. I still got Naomi Season One to read but I won’t start imagining that it’s going to be too different from these series though.

      Hahaha no worries about tangents like those. They inspire/motivate me into wanting to pick up certain stories sooner rather than later. I still have yet to read ANYTHING with Judge Dredd but I know how much you love the character and that Rebellion/2000ad run. I just need to get my hands on a nice edition and hope my time with it will be rewarding! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well I’m hoping to eventually do some Judge Dredd reviews, probably later this year (so look out for those) but you might be best looking up recommended Dredd reading lists – the earliest stuff is pretty dated and though there are good concepts were written with a younger reader in mind. A lot of the IDW stuff is not great but there are a couple of gems – like “Year One”, which was actually written by 2000ad editor Matt Smith with art by the sublime Simon Coleby.

        Liked by 1 person

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