The latest release from Brian Michael Bendis' Wonder Comics pop-up imprint, Wonder Twins #1, releases today from writer Mark Russell and artist Stephen Byrne. The series, like everything that Wonder Comics has done so far, is a fun, smart, and upbeat success.
Simple, open page layouts and a clean, bright color palette really show off Byrne's art, which is enriched by a solid eye for emotion and expressions. The look and feel of the pages is inviting to the eye, and the clarity and fun that's on every page creates the kind of look that could be really appealing to casual readers finding Wonder Twins in the bookstore market.
That, really, is the thing about Wonder Twins: it really embraces the concept that comics are for everybody. The characters are young, fun, relatable, and a bit awkward. The art is clear and appealing. The characters themselves are familiar faces, but their personalities are essentially blank slates that Russell and Byrne can do with as they please. This is the perfect comic to put in the hands of somebody who has not read comics in years and just wants something fun.
The Wonder Twins are also outsiders in their school and only really tolerated by most of the Justice League, while Superman takes a special interest in making sure they feel at home. That makes him the most frequently seen hero, but Wonder Twins takes an irreverent tour of the Hall of Justice and shows fans aspects of the building -- and the DC Universe -- that are rarely (or never) explored. There is something really appealing about the idea of looking at the DC Universe through fresh eyes, and to do so while maintaining a humorous lens makes it a book worth checking out.
It does all of this with a sense of humor, but one that does not undercut the seriousness or the heroism of the "adults" in the building. In fact, one of the most fun elements of the comic is seeing the characters interact with the Justice League, getting a sense for how the classic heroes fit into this narrative, and seeing how Russell -- through the lens of Jayna and Zan -- views them. The closest approximation to this would be something like what DC did with Bat-Mite and Bizarro a few years back: it takes place within the DC Universe, but it is not tied to this particular moment in continuity. And the characters are the most iconic, almost-exaggerated versions of themselves, which allows Zan and Jayna to respond to them as the readers do.
Wonder Twins lacks the biting satire of Russell's The Flintstones or Prez, but that is not what kind of book it is, and Russell is an undeniably talented writer with an ear for dialogue and a wicked sense of humor. As great as Prez and The Flintstones were, it is nice to see him flex his muscles a bit and deliver a different kind of book. That is not to say this is not a series that has something to say -- it's just that the message is more personal and character-driven, and less of a high-concept farce.
Published by DC Comics
On February 13, 2019
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Stephen Byrne
Letters by Dave Sharpe