Spoilers ahead for this week's Wonder Comics #12.
With this week's release of DC's Wonder Comics #12, it marks the end of Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne's dystopian/after school special-esque limited series with Zan, Jayne, and Gleek.
In the finale, Zan and Jayna deal with the consequences of saving the world, including facing the wrath of the Justice League. In the end, both teams find a happy medium and are even able to learn a thing or two from each other - leaving the series open ended enough for future threads to be explored.
After reading the finale I’m sure you have many burning questions, luckily, Newsarama had the chance to talk to the Russell and Byrne for the first words following that end. This includes the overall message they wanted to convey with the title, the series’ Super Friends influence, and if the team would like return to the characters.
Newsarama: Mark, you showcased a lot of lesser known villains in your Wonder Twins series. How did you go about choosing who you'd include?
Mark Russell: I wanted a cast of minor villains that would make a good match, skills-wise, for the Wonder Twins. I also wanted (most of) them to come across as more pathetic than evil. As people who may have made a bad vocational decision a long time ago and have never really been able to pull themselves out from under it. I've always had a soft spot for one-note or underwhelming heroes and villains who have to hustle to survive in a hostile universe.
Nrama: And while not lesser known, I have to ask - how'd Lex come about?
Russell: Lex Luthor represents the other end of the villain spectrum. He's not the guy mugging people outside the Sir Loin's Steakhouse or sending Filo Math to the Phantom Zone. He's orchestrating it from afar as the guy who incentivizes the League of Annoyance, propagandizes through LEX News and, when all else fails, profits off the minor villains with his private prisons.
He represents the systemic institutional villain, which is where the real villainy occurs. As such, he's a necessary counterpart to the mostly pathetic and inneffectual League of Annoyance to whom he's outsourced any accountability for his actions.
Nrama: The Justice League and Wonder Twins make amends in the finale. What do you think they were able to learn from each other?
Russell: I think the Wonder Twins have been learning (the hard way) just how messed up the Earth is and why, as imperfect as they are, institutions like the Justice League are necessary. The Justice League, meanwhile, has learned that there are a lot of problems that can't be solved with punching.
Nrama: Stephen, this is a very humorous superhero title, how did you balance humor with action?
Stephen Byrne: I think most of the humor comes from Mark’s writing. I was mostly trying to match the tone of what was on the page, and I just try to embellish it where possible and appropriate.
Nrama: How much fun was it drawing Gleek? He has a pretty big scene in your finale.
Byrne: I like Gleek a lot but he’s probably one of the more difficult things to get right. I’m used to drawing superheroes and humans, but monkeys are new to me. I used reference pictures to try and get the basic feel of his poses correct, but then tried to add more human body language and facial expressions to him so he could emote more than your average monkey. [Laughs]
Nrama: When the title was expanded from 6 to 12 issues, how did that change your plan for the series?
Russell: It allowed me to tell some of the stories I wasn't able to fit into the first six issues. The reason why the Wonder Twins had to leave Exxor, which is hinted at in #1 but never explained, so it was nice to be able to revisit that, as well as to give the story of the Math family some resolution. But beyond that, it allowed me to sort of relax and take my time in building and telling a longer form story about toxic nostalgia and the importance of remaining open to change.
Nrama: What was the mission statement you wanted to come across with your run?
Russell: Personally, I envisioned Wonder Twins as being part dystopian fiction, part after school special. Specifically, an after school special dealing with subjects that they would never have talked about in a million years, but should have. I'm not sure how many comics about the prison-industrial complex and the perils of late stage capitalism are directed at teens, but I can't imagine there are too many.
Nrama: Is there a moment from this week's finale you are most proud of?
Byrne: I like the final page. I think it’s sweet and optimistic in a book that has dealt with some of the darker sides of humanity.
Russell: I'm just happy that we were able to land it in a place that works out well as a goodbye for the characters. My hope for the last issue is that it not only works as a story, but reminds people of why they care about the characters they've spent twelve issues getting to know.
Nrama: What inspiration did you take from Super Friends cartoon for this title?
Byrne: Well the costumes were based off those original Super Friends designs. We tried some looks that were more modern or ‘cool’. But our favorite look was the purple jumpsuit outfit, with some minor updates.
Nrama: What do you enjoy the most about the Wonder Twins dynamic?
Byrne: Their odd couple vibes. They really are polar opposites, but that doesn’t stop them from caring about each other.
Nrama: Is there another character you’d like to work on from Brian Michael Bendis' Wonder Comicc corner of DC?
Byrne: Any of them. The Wonder Comics line are very much the sort of comics that I like to read.
Nrama: Would you like to work more with the Wonder Twins?
Byrne: I do feel a sense of attachment to them, and I would like to work on them again, but I also hope they go on to appear in the rest of the DC universe more often, and would be just as excited to see someone else interpret them.