Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wonder Twins #5 Review

Writer: Mark Russell 
Art: Stephen Byrne
Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 12th, 2019

Kryptonian Cell phones, discriminating uses for the Phantom Zone, Lex and Balances, and Red Flag is at half-mast all in this week’s WONDER TWINS #5 by Mark Russell. Let’s hop into this week’s issue!



Russell opens the issue showing the readers that Polly won the Science Fair with her research on “Whether the Internet is Alive”. After a trip down memory lane as to how Filo and the Scrambler entered the League of  Annoyance, they discuss the Scramblers new evil plan. However, Filo doesn’t think he can help him. So, after a talk with his daughter, Filo decides to go clean out his stuff from the League of Annoyance Lair and go on the run with his daughter. Things don’t seem to work out too well for Filo because Sylvia is there, uses her Kryptonian cell phone, and zaps him into the Phantom Zone. Thinking her father is dead, Polly finds the Scrambler and chooses to help him fix the world's problems once and for all. The issue ends with one million people being “scrambled” (mind controlled) and the rest of the world to follow in 30 days if they don’t change their power-hungry ways.


This was Russell’s best issue in the series so far. Not only was he able to use his satire to confront different difficult issues that have been at the forefront of society but he was able to create a story that actually connected together with the prior issues well, which has been a complaint of some readers. This reviewer finally felt like Russell gave fans more than one-shot after one-shot that “kind of” connected. Sure, the style is fine, especially with the way Russell writes his different series to date. However, the progression and build up from one issue to the next felt natural, informative, made sense, and STILL managed to feel like a Mark Russell comic. 


I didn’t realize through the first four issues that Sylvia was so... racist. Maybe I missed it? But, let me tell you, Russell lays it on thick this issue. My first reaction was actually jaw-dropping when Sylvia is looking out her window, staring at four African American people talking outside, and saying “this was my town then they all came here.” Or “they’re everywhere.” Geez! Russell paints this older woman as someone who's scared out of her dang mind about racial change and feels something needs to be done about it, which is totally absurd and wrong in every way. However, if you talk to the Baby Boomer generation who lived through the Civil Rights Movement, as well as anyone older, you’d notice this unwarranted and ridiculous fear that often times is centered around race, culture, and ethnicity. It’s real and it’s out there. Is everyone from that generation this way? Of course not. But, it does exist.

Russell is poking fun at the idea of discrimination and racism, especially when Sylvia accidentally blasts Filo Math as he enters the lair screaming “they’re coming in!” Filo won a Noble Prize and walks around wearing suits for Pete’s Peppers! However, that’s the point Russell wants to make. Discrimination is still around.  It’s never gone away and at times it may even be worse, even though the Civil Rights movement happened over 50 years ago! How does humanity make this better? What can people do? The underlining theme from Russell appears to be education. Parents, teachers, and coaches alike need to inform the youth and stop thinking that kids are too young to understand what prejudice and discrimination are because that’s a load of crap. 


The next point Russell makes is that with great power comes a greater chance of escaping legal action, getting away with crimes, and getting whatever you want at the expense of others. To all extensive purposes, the people in the story think Filo was disintegrated and killed. Sylvia was videotaped doing this BUT using her power, her position, who she knows, and her money, she’s able to get away with murder. This is ridiculous but true even in our society today. 

Russell puts Sylvia on the Lex and Balances show and somehow is able to walk away without any punishment or legal action. Better yet, Russell writes Sylvia saying “I can finally go back to living my life... begin healing from my long ordeal.” Excuse me?! You disintegrated someone. What about their family? This is totally nuts! However, Russell isn’t wrong... it’s totally true. Those with the power feel like they can say and do whatever they want at everyone else’s expense. This reviewer is pretty sure someone probably comes to mind. Am I right? To a degree, they few themselves better than everyone else, which ironically enough Russell puts in the very same issue where he points out discrimination. Anyone wonder if those two ideas go hand in hand? 


Russell’s blend of cohesion and satire was perfect throughout the issue. Often times, this reviewer feels Russell sacrifices one for the other to drive home a specific point. Not this week! This issue was truly a perfect combination of narrative plot connection and thought-provoking discussion. Russell helped bring to light some issues that are in our society today and helped readers see the flaws associated with them. It really only came at the expense of seeing the actual Wonder Twins. Racism and Discrimination are ideas that are not born. They are taught. And Russell has truly amped up that point throughout the issue. It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “... if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” My friends; this is such a true statement that Russell appears to drive home from start to finish of the issue. 

If you’re interested in some deep discussion, pick this issue up. If you’ve been on board with WONDER TWINS to this point, then pick this issue up. And if you’re a Mark Russell fan, this is right in your wheelhouse. I think you’ll enjoy the issue. However, for a book about the Wonder Twins, they take a back seat throughout the issue. So, don’t pick it up if your searching for character development because the characters do feel interchangeable with any others and the story could still function the very same way with the same message. 

Bits and Pieces:

I left the issue truly pondering some of our societies biggest hardships and self-reflecting on my own actions, perceptions, and demeanor towards these issues. Are there any immediate answers to these topics? I don’t know. Did Russell give fans the answers? No. However, he’s attempting to float these issues to the top to draw attention to them using his platform to do so. Thank you, Mr. Russell, for the reminder.


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