Wonder Comics: Young Justice, Wonder Twins, and Naomi
Now that we’ve seen a few issues, I thought I’d take a look at the Wonder Comics imprint from DC Comics.
Wonder Comics is “curated” by Brian Michael Bendis and features four titles that star teenage heroes. One hasn’t appeared yet. Dial H for Hero, about the magic dial that grants its wielder superpowers for an hour, launches at the end of the month. It’s a six-issue miniseries (originally announced as an ongoing) written by Sam Humphries and illustrated by Joe Quinones.
The first book released was Young Justice, a revamp of the teen team created about 20 years ago to replace the Titans when they weren’t teens any more. The biggest complaint that idea received at the time was that the original group featured only Superboy, Robin, and Impulse, with no women.
The new character introduced in this new #1 helps address that problem in a clever way. Jinny Hex is a tough Texas gal who meets up with Robin (Tim Drake, thankfully — I think the other one is a psychotic brat), Impulse (yay!), Wonder Girl (double yay!), an unidentified Teen Lantern, and finally, Superboy. Of course, they aren’t a team yet. Some of them haven’t even met the others. That, given the writer, will require several more issues.
Young Justice #1 is written by Bendis and illustrated by Patrick Gleason. Bendis scripting means I wanted a bit more content in issue #1, but maybe that’s just because I didn’t like the idea of Gemworld deciding to invade. There have been enough wrong things done to Amethyst in the past that this didn’t excite me as a plot line. It was great seeing Impulse’s positive energy again, though.
In issue #2, Cassie Sandsmark (Wonder Girl) gets a substantial flashback that makes up the meat of the comic, but we still don’t know who the young Green Lantern is (unless you look at the cover). They’re all stuck on Gemworld and have yet to come together as a team. I’m not a fan of Bendis’ pacing in general and here specifically — this would probably read better in the eventual collection. Love the concept and characters, though.
Wonder Twins #1, my favorite of the bunch, is written by Mark Russell and illustrated by Stephen Byrne. The alien twins, Zan and Jayna, are superhero interns when they’re not attending high school.
What makes this fresh is the weirdness Russell brings to an otherwise typical fish-out-of-water teen hero story. The story of their home planet of Exxon sounds appropriately futuristic, even boring, until he starts talking about thunderstorms and their repressed yet sex-crazed culture. It’s unexpected, which keeps the book fresh.
The explanation of why the Hall of Justice exists is told a bit sarcastically, which follows through on the lightly cynical mood. That’s balanced by the chipper, retro super-computer. In a similar fashion, Zan’s the slightly idiotic “I wanna be popular” guy while Jayna is quieter but more sensible. I was never sure what to expect, and the wiseacre mood should appeal to teens, who love feeling smarter than those around them.
Issue number #2 guest-stars Beast Boy and a bunch of really forgettable villains, called the League of Annoyance, while Gleek joins the pair in the upcoming issue #3. I’ll be continuing with this one.
Naomi, written by Bendis and David F. Walker, art by Jamal Campbell, is the only book that features a brand-new character. Although announced as an ongoing series, it has since come out that issue #6 will be the end, with a “second season” relaunch coming later, along with an Amethyst title.
It’s a very Bendis comic, with lots of dialogue-driven scenes, where everyone has a similar voice, and not much actually revealed in issue #1. Naomi is bummed that she missed seeing Superman bounce through town as part of a cosmic battle. The idea — that to this small town, it’s an amazing, life-changing event, but to the rest of the world, it’s not even worth paying attention to — is a reminder of how powerful seeing Superman actually would be.
All we know by the end of this first issue is that Naomi is adopted, and something superhero-related happened 17 years ago, which is when she was adopted. Following this series requires a lot of faith that something interesting and worthwhile will eventually be revealed, since it’s being pitched on her having a significant connection to the DC universe. Personally, I’m not enough of a fan to stick around just on the belief that the revelation will be cool and worth it.
(By the way, the just-out #3 starts revealing some answers, but still not the main one, which means it will be at least four issues, $16 cover price, to find out the big secret. That’s a pretty big buy-in, in my opinion.)