Warning: The following contains spoilers for Wonder Twins #9 by Mark Russell, Stephen Byrne and Dave Sharpe, on sale now.
Ever since they debuted on the Super Friends cartoon in the '70s, the Wonder Twins have been two of the nicest figures in the DC Universe. Following in the mold of their animated appearances, Wonder Twins has finally given Zan and Jayna a true place in the comic book DC Universe as junior members of the Justice League who are just trying to do their best.
However, Wonder Twins #9 dramatically reframes the Wonder Twins's boundless optimism by revealing the dark family history that's quietly informed almost all of the superhero siblings' decisions.
THE PROBLEMS WITH THE PAST
Jayna and Zan hail from the utopia world of the planet of Exxor. They were raised in a peaceful society that was built on years and years of war, where many battles were carried out in the name of xenophobia. Thousands ended up being exiled to the Phantom Zone, the extra-dimensional limbo that holds many of Superman's foes. Eventually, the people were able to move past the events and find peace. Years later, Janya and Zan ask to be taken to a museum for the history of the planet's conflicts.
Initially, the twins believe they never heard much about their grandfather, Raylon, because he was one of the people who'd been taken to the Phantom Zone during the high days of the war. Instead, the reason their father never wanted to talk about him was for a more distressing and depressing. After arriving at the museum, the pair are shocked to learn that their Grandfather wasn't one of the people sent to the Phantom Zone, Instead, he was one of the chief people who sent people there. Known as Raylon the Judge or "Raylon the Ruthless," he is held up as a symbol of the mistakes of the past and made to be a warning sign for future generations.
THE PHANTOM ZONE
Trapping thousands in the Phantom Zone is a pretty unforgivable act. Within the DC Universe, the Phantom Zone was only used in cases to lock away the most dangerous beings. It traps them away without a body or sense of self in the pocket dimension, and it's considered such a cruel act of terror that Raylon's entire family is held up as a poor standard in Exxor's modern culture. It's even revealed that this is why the Wonder Twins ended up getting sent to Earth. The Wonder Twins' father feared that they would never be able to escape the shadow cast by their lineage, and wanted them to enjoy a life where they weren't judged just by their name, and Jayna saw it as a chance to make something new with her life.
While this contrasts sharply with the Wonder Twins' usual lightweight depiction, it adds a significantly more dour aspect to the Wonder Twins' history. The two titular characters have been genuinely positive over the course of the series, without any real dark aspects to their characters.
However, this revelation finally introduces a painful aspect and add stakes to their development. It explains why they try so hard to be so positive above all else because they want to make sure they have a better impact on the world than their family. It especially expands on Jayna's commitment to social justice and gives her a personal character reason to commit to everything. It's even revealed she stole her father's research, partly so that she could someday try to make things better with that research.
Even though the Wonder Twins still exist in a fairly sunny corner of the DC Universe, this revelation casts a slight shadow over almost every choice these young heroes make.