Moving into its sophomore issue, Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne's Wonder Twins eschews the high school teen comedy of its debut issue and instead begins to establish the direction of the new Wonder Comics series. However, as the cast's presumable central antagonists are introduced, it veers noticeably in both tone and comedic sensibilities, moving forward in a manner that may seem jarring to some readers.
As the first issue served as a wider introduction to the beloved Super Friends characters' DC Rebirth debut and the wide world of heroes they work alongside in the Hall of Justice, this second issue actually focuses more on a low-rent ensemble of rogues: The League of Annoyance. True to their team name, this group of villains doesn't poise a threat big enough to warrant the attention of the Justice League, making them ideal foils for the titular siblings as they settle into their new jobs.
As with the first issue, Wonder Twins works best when it leans into its own self-awareness, embracing how wonderfully weird the DC Universe can be. That still happens to a degree here, and whenever Zan and Jayna are front and center, the issue is delight. However, it loses its way whenever the focus turns to this new supervillain team. While the idea of more pathetic rogues within the DCU isn't a particularly revolutionary one (the Suicide Squad and Secret Six have mined this concept for decades), many of the jokes involving the group and the overall issue revolve a new character dubbed Drunkula.
Ostensibly named Baron Nightblood, the vampiric villain preys on the blood alcohol content of his victims but is himself an alcoholic, desperately attempting to stay sober. The character is a ridiculous one to be sure, but there's something a bit mean-spirited about the issue's handling of him as the central butt of its jokes about alcoholism and sobriety. This isn't to say that jokes about the subjects of addiction shouldn't be made at all, but it takes the issue into some overly uncomfortable areas, especially after the high school teen comedy that dominated and defined the previous issue. To Russell's credit, the Wonder Twins themselves question the moral efficacy of how to combat a visibly alcoholic foe with clear addiction problems to a degree, but these concerns are largely and apparently dismissed as the story continues.
On a more positive note, Byrne's art remains as sharp and consistent as ever, especially when focused on the antics of the main characters. While instantly recognizable compared to their original Super Friends counterparts, Byrne really has visually made Jayna and Zan all his own. He and Russell also introduce the twins' trusty pet monkey Gleek in this issue to complete the classic animated trifecta.
When the Jayna and Zan interact with other familiar faces from the DCU, the issue is firing on all cylinders, recapturing all the charm from its debut, with the siblings as P.O.V. characters witnessing the inherent absurdity of the DCU with a wink and a nod as they carve out their own niche within it. But Wonder Twins #2 can be a problematically complicated read.
When the series retains its focus on its eponymous siblings, it largely succeeds with its zany sense of humor as it good-naturedly pokes fun at some of the tropes within the DCU. But with Drunkula, a key member on the newly introduced League of Annoyance, the tone and jokes come off as noticeably more mean-spirited as Zan and Jayna get their own set of villains to take on. With the self-aware characters calling attention to this, hopefully the series will turn the alcoholic vampire into more than a put-upon punchline and close the gap between its signature irreverent humor and the unfortunate antagonist.
Wonder Twins #2 is written by Mark Russell and illustrated by Stephen Byrne. It is scheduled to go on sale on March 13 from DC Comics.