Wonder Twins #2 Is Like A Saturday Morning Cartoon, But With A Killer Satirical Punch

by Olly MacNamee

With all the news surrounding Mark Russell’s Second Coming moving to Ahoy Comics, this week was a good reminder that just because he has one title at another publisher that doesn’t mean he can’t still write for DC Comics. And with Wonder Twins #2 out it’s a reminder of the fun he’s having with these two easily ignored teenage twins in this all-ages book.

Yes, there’s the light-hearted satire, done out of love of the genre and comic book curios from the past and no better an example of that is when Russell manages to include his own meta-textual take on the classic Hostess fruit pies that appeared in the comic books of our childhoods. This time round though, these are adverts for television, the internet and so on. Make perfect sense really, but it did put a smile on my face when the filming of said advert issued as a fun way of introducing guest star, Gar Logan, into this issue. But, that’s not when the fun ends, or even begins. No, that honour comes courtesy of new villain The Scrambler who uses his powers to get out of jail and join up with the League of Annoyance; The Legion of Doom’s ‘farm team’ full of Z-list villains and vagabonds wishing they could be both a ‘hive of villainy and a fun place to work’. Hey, it helps if you like your workplace, right? No harm in trying to improve the work place for all. Even villains and henchmen need basic workers rights, health and safety in the workplace and maybe a pension scheme? I mean, villainy has its drawbacks and I can imagine there’s a lot of time when some may not be earning.

Meanwhile, the twins are on a school field trip but thanks to funding cuts (tell me about it! As a teacher I am all too aware of this ever increasing problem) they’ve ended up going to a private prison complex run by one Lex Luthor. And, as a profit creating institution you won’t be surprised to see the employees happily cut corners in order to keep an eye on the bottom line. It’s a prison many in the US will be all too familiar with wherein the incarcerated are treated as slaves-for-hire as they fend off calls from irate customers. Prisoners for profit. Urgh. Seems the real villains are the business men in… oh, wait. We’re talking about Luthor here. He’s always the villain!

But, it’s not all laughs and giggles. Behind the light-touch satire aimed at the American private prison profiteers there’s the bitter-sweet tale of Drunkula, or rather Baron Nightblood, as he’s quick to point out. A member of the League of Annoyance and a general laughingstock, the Baron is tragically tied into a pre-determined role of the antagonist, whether he likes it or not. Try as much as he can, he will forever be set as merely a vampire and not the addict he really is. There’s a point to be made here on the very mechanics of the superhero/super-villain duality dilemma and how it often plays out again and again, and it’s deftly done, while still delivering a sick, but ever so satisfying punchline at the end of this issue.
Stephen Byrne continues to amaze with his animated art and the colours he brings give it something of the Saturday Morning vibe about it all. Exciting, vibrant and evocative of the innocence of childhood. It’s like the soft, fluffy mitten into which Russell delivers his knockout punches, and it works a treat. Another fun but also thoughtful issue and another win for the new Wonder Comics line that’s really been a treat thus far.
Wonder Twins #2 is out now from DC Comics.

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