Wonder Twins #5: Is It Okay To Root For The Bad Guy?

by Olly MacNamee

What starts off as another issue of promised fun and high jinx at the expense of The League of Annoyance ends off becoming a rather deep, albeit comedic, comic looking at such weighty theme as institutionalised racism and corporate responsibilities. And I loved it. My favourite issue yet, and just when it was coming to the end of its run, goddammit.

I for one enjoy the odd sprinkling of social commentary and satire with my comics and if you can’t do it in superhero comics, then where else can you do it? It’s fertile ground and writer Mark Russell is no stranger to this particular idea, as anyone who read his early DC work in The Flintstones can attest. It’s what made me a fan and drew me to reading more of his work wherever it pops up. How he’s woven such commentary into his work with such humour, too, and still managed to tell a ripping yarn is amazing to read. It’s one of the few comics that genuinely puts a smile on my face, and this one is no exception.

 

Wonder Twins #5 could easily be dismissed as a YA read, given that its home is at Wonder comics, but like all of the other titles coming out of this imprint, this is a book that’s deceptive. Even the outstanding art by Stephen Byrne is presented as an all-ages read. Beautiful in its clean, frugal lines and wonderfully expressive characters.

The aforementioned heavy-hitting themes explored in this issue are hinted at early on when we learn that Polly Math’s villainous father and League of Annoyance member – as Polly discovers last issue –  fell into villainy by accident after being hired by Lex Luthor. More because people wouldn’t take on a young black scientist. Seems Lex Luthor isn’t the bad guy we thought he was when it came to employment equality. Although, like WC Fields, I imagine it’s only because he hates everyone equally. Although, the prejudice shown through a quick flashback is still a problem that hasn’t gone away even today. Something the unlucky Filo Maths realises when he is a victim to such one more time in this issue!

Meanwhile, The Scrambler also makes an appearance or two, a character I’ve enjoyed seen develop across this series and a real stand out cast member for me who seems destined for a road to redemption, whether he planned it that way or not. Here, once again, we get a glimpse at The Scrambler’s own story and path to villainy. You can’t help feeling sorry for him. A probably good man making bad choices because of his bad situation. There are bigger villains out there who, even after decades, haven’t got as much depth to them as this guy. I look forward to seeing how his story ends as much as I’m interested in the lead characters. More so, if I’m honest. In my wildest dream I’m already seeing Mark Russel pitch The Scrambler as a mini-series to DC.

With one issue left to go,  – or so I thought when writing this, but know know better, wit the announcement this week that his run will  extend to 12 issues now – Russell has ramped up the action and the threat level too. But, I just can’t help but find myself rooting for the bad guy, especially after that cliff hanger and his reasoning behind his next big scheme.

Wonder Twins #5 is out now from DC Comics/Wonder Comics.

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