DC Comics' Wonder Twins #1, the latest comic book series to debut under the Wonder Comics imprint launched by Brian Michael Bendis, leans more heavily into low-stakes, teen comedy than its counterpart titles in the new imprint, and is all the better for it. Written by Mark Russell (The Flintstones) and illustrated by Stephen Byrne (Justice League/Power Rangers), the inaugural issue features the eponymous shape-shifting siblings from the planet Exxor joining the DC Rebirth Universe as they begin their lives as unassuming high schoolers and their part-time jobs working in the Hall of Justice.
And, for the most part, it works, gently poking fun at the DCU without compromising respect for the mythos, while serving as a love letter to both the Super Friends animated series where both characters premiered and the teen comedies by prolific filmmaker John Hughes. Russell and Byrne have brought teen comedy to the DCU in a big way, with virtually every single page having its own zany jokes. As with anything that leans that heavily and overtly into humor, some jokes connect and some fall flat but, fortunately, the creative team's batting average has their hits outweigh their misses.
After writing the surprisingly poignant Flintstones series for DC's Hanna-Barbera revival, Russell brings a decidedly more relaxed, less drama-imbued story here in the debut issue but, given the emotional rollercoaster that is high school, there are certainly hints that Zan and Jayna's feelings will be on the line as the story progresses. Russell packs his script with a knowing wink at readers, addressing self-aware of elements of the DCU that could use a lighthearted calling out by using the twins starting their job with the Justice League as a window into the wider universe. Less effective are moments when normally stoic characters engage in the irreverent humorous exchanges driving the series in moments that seem can seem strikingly out of character. More traditionalist fans may be put off by several dialogue moments featuring iconic members of the team, including a previously unseen high school revelation by Batman, but this is all done intentionally to elicit laughs, not for readers to overly preoccupy themselves with.
Byrne is no stranger to rendering DC's premier superteam, having previously drawn their crossover miniseries with the Power Rangers, and he brings much of the same sensibilities to this title. The familiar heroes and villains of the DCU are all drawn in their recognizably gorgeous glory while Byrne also creates a high school as timelessly familiar as any teen comedy that has come before it. And, of course, Jayna and Zan are drawn with slightly updated versions of their original appearances on the Super Friends, their matching purple outfits and Wonder Twin powers on full display.
One of the things that really make this issue soar, both in terms of scripting and art, is its nods to the Super Friends. It's clear from this debut that the creative team are fans of the '70s animated series, not just with the obvious starring roles for the characters but also with little Easter eggs, blink-and-you-miss-them cameos and self-referential jokes. The Hall of Justice is depicted just as it was on the animated series, right down to its cavernous, steel main room containing only a supercomputer.
Overall, Wonder Twins is a breath of fresh air in the at times high-stakes, overly earnest world of mainstream superhero comic books. While some of the humor may come off as forced or out of place for several of the more iconic characters, the new series is a comedy first and foremost and so the need to take itself so seriously is intentionally downplayed for comical effect. Easily the funniest and most lightweight of the Wonder Comics titles so far, the series is off to a fun start nestled firmly within the DC Universe and a blast to both longtime fans of the Super Friends and readers that have never followed the adventures of Jayna and Zan before.
Wonder Twins #1 is written by Mark Russell and illustrated by Stephen Byrne. The new series debuts on February 13 from DC Comics.