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.
Since it’s announcement, I’ve been excited to check out Wonder Twins #1, part of Brian Michael Bendis’ line of Wonder Comics. With Mark Russell writing, to say the expectations were high going in to it is an understatement. And, maybe due to those expectations and Russell’s past brilliance, the first issue falls a bit short.
Russell is a brilliant satirist and whatever he writes, there’s usually some winks, nods, and humor to it. Wonder Twins, a high school set series with two superheroes at the center is a perfect set up. But, that set up doesn’t pay off. Instead we get an introduction to these characters and the setting with a few laughs and an end punchline that feels like it could have come out of a back-up story. And that’s much of what the comic feels like, a back-up.
The issue is focused on Zan and Jayna and their attempts to fit in. Jayna is rather shy, though we don’t really see it, we’re told. And Zan is a douche. He attempts to be cool and we know how well that’ll go. Expecting a send-up of John Hughes-ish stories, instead we’re given a fairly straightforward story with little conflict or emotion to make it interesting.
There’s some jokes that hit but overall the issue is a rather flat piece of entertainment. We’ve seen what Russell can do and this should be a contemporary Prez, a smart take on modern teenagers, an example of his past brilliance.
One of the best jokes is provided by artist Stephen Byrne who does a good job of telling the story visually. Though, what’s presented again feels off with little personality. It’s as if the Wonder Twins are at Riverdale High School. Much like the story itself, the design of the characters and especially the other students feels generic and lifeless. Beyond one particular joke, the best details are the looks given when Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman get together.
The lettering by Dave Sharpe stands out as it’s used to emphasize some moments and really set the tone. You can almost hear the taunts presented through the lettering.
The comic isn’t bad in any way but it also doesn’t engage in any way either. There’s jokes sure, but where this could be Clueless or John Hughes with two superhero leads (potentially smart commentary), we get a bland classic Archie story with the Wonder Twins. This is a case where the Wonder Twin powers fail to activate.
Story: Mark Russell Art: Stephen Byrne
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.15 Recommendation: Read
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy wit a FREE copy for review