Title: Wonder Twins
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.
Release Date: November 19th, 2019.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
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.
Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for this copy!