The Wonder Twins were a part of the Justice League in the DC Universe. As the story in the comics goes, their father was a friend of Superman. He was the one who sent his children to the Justice league, but the reason for this was initially unknown. These twins also have superpowers, though there is one condition; they have to either hold hands or bump their fists and say ‘Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!’ first.
The names of the twins are Zan and Jayna, and they first appeared in the animated television series called ‘The All-New Super Friends Hour’. This show was presented by Hanna-Barbera. The pair is also usually accompanied by their pet monkey named Gleek. Their pets would help out in their battles against crime. However, the original names of the twins were meant to be Dick and Jane, with their pet having the name ‘Mighty Monkey’. The eventual names, Zan and Jayna, were derived from the characters Tarzan and Jane.
The duo was voiced by Michael Bell (Zan), B.J Ward (1984, Jayna), and Louise Williams (1977-1983, Jayna). The siblings are from a plant named Exor or Exxor; the exact spelling varies according to different sources. While they were preceded by another duo made up of Marvin White and Wendy Harris, the Wonder Twins were able to surpass them by having their own abilities for participating in combat.
The subsequent appearances of the Wonder Twins were in comics that were based on their first TV series. However, they later became part of the main DC Comics Universe. In addition to the comics, they have also been seen in a live-action TV series ‘Smallville’ and another animated series named ‘Teen Titans Go!’. Other shows they have appeared in include:
- The World’s Greatest Super Friends
- Super Friends
- Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show
In addition to Superman and the Wonder Twins, there were a few other extraterrestrial superheroes in the world of comics and animated series. Those interested in such superheroes may also want to read up on the superhero Invincible.
Like the original names, the Wonder Twins also had some powers that were changed from the original scripts. Zan’s power was initially similar to those of Plastic Man, which meant that he could stretch to very long lengths. Jayna was able to transform into anything she wanted.
However, the powers of both twins changed before they got very far in their first series. The main reason for this was that the original powers were so all-encompassing that they made the other Super Friends’ powers pale in comparison. Even Superman’s powers seem to be superfluous in comparison to the original powers of the Wonder Twins.
The eventual superpower for Zan was the ability to transform into any kind of water. The monkey Gleek would usually transport this water in a bucket if needed. Jayna could transform into any kind of animal, which was usually a pterodactyl or other form of flying creature.
Appearance of the Wonder Twins
Jayna had a very distinctive hairstyle, which was inspired by an animation-checker who worked at Hanna-Barbera. The pointed ears of both twins were based on Star Trek’s Dr. Spock. The twins also had very distinctive personalities, which were mostly inspired by the characters Donny and Marie Osmond. These were two very popular characters at the time when the Wonder Twins were first introduced (1977) and even had their own ABC show.
The Wonder Twins in 2019
Before 2019, the last major appearance of the Wonder Twins was back in 2003. In 2019, however, DC came out with a Wonder Twins comics miniseries comprising six issues. The series turned out to be a success, both commercially and critically. This positive reception meant that the series was extended and became a maxi-series with 12 issues.
The first six issues of the Wonder Twins maxi series were compiled into a trade paperback book in November 2019. The next six were to be compiled in the August of 2020.
History of the Wonder Twins
The first comic book that the Wonder Twins appeared in came out in 1977, and it provided a lot of background for the characters. The television series wasn’t too clear about the backgrounds, so the comic books filled in the blanks.
The twins are in the category of metas, which means that their genetic history dates back to an ancient shapeshifter race in Exor. Their parents passed away from a plague while the twins were still babies. Due to their origin, nobody on their home planet wanted to bring them up. Not only did they have the superpower trait that was bred out in the Exorrian races, but they were also considered mutants because they had to touch hands to use their powers.
However, other sources state that the twins did know their father, who sent them away due to their family history. As it turns out. Their grandfather made many mistakes and banished thousands of people to the Phantom Zone, which was only meant for dire punishments. This was why their father decided that the twins will be better off on Earth, perhaps similar to the history of Superman.
The Wonder Twins and the Space Circus
Eventually, the twins got adopted by a man who owns a Space Circus. There, they were meant to be used as sideshow freaks. The man’s name was Dentwil, and the children were his property until they were 20 years old. Dental benefited by the wins by putting them on display and making Jayna turn into Exxorian animals. Zan’s power was shown off by making him turn into watersports.
Fortunately, a clown in the circus is kind to them and brings them up, even giving them their pet monkey. He was also responsible for their schooling.
When they become teenagers, the twins run away from the circus and hide on another planet. There, Superman’s enemy Grax is plotting to destroy the planet Earth. The Wonder Twins then decide to get to earth and bring this warning message to the Justice League. This is how they became part of the League and took the place of Wendy and Martin along with Wonder Dog.
On Earth, the other superheroes arrange for the twins to take on secret identities with the named Joanna and Johan Fleming. They were supposed to be transfer students from Sweden. Jayna managed to transform her hair to a blonde shade, while Zan wore a blonde wig. These disguises helped them attend Gotham City High School.
However, the twins were still regular helpers of the Justice league. After they had been part of several battles on the side of the league, Wonder Woman presents Jayna with a bracelet that had once belonged to Wendy. This enabled Jayne to get in touch with the core five of the Justice League; namely, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Superman, Batman, and Robin.
The Wonder Twins in 1996
This was the year when the series Extreme Justice was ongoing in the post-Crisis DC continuity. The story is somewhat changed here, with the twins arriving on Earth but not being able to speak or understand English. As a result, they mistakenly attack the Justice League and some civilians.
During this fight, Zan showed his superpowers by transforming into a whirlpool, water monster, and ice golem in turn. Jayna fought by transforming herself into a sea serpent, a werewolf, and a griffin. With time, the pair was emancipated and joined a team under Captain Atom in the May 1996 issue. They were also present in Final Night and the Total Justice series in the same year.
The unique part of Jayna’s superpowers is that she can transform herself into any kind of animal, whether it’s real or based in mythology. The animal in question could be on Earth, or part of a whole other planet. The only conditions were that she had to touch her brother’s hand and know the animal’s name. If she didn’t know the common name of the intended creature, her transformation would be to some random, weird animal.
While the first season of Super Friends heavily featured the Wonder Twins, the duo was eventually phased out. They were marginalized with the passage of time, with more attention being given to the established teen superheroes such as Firestorm. Eventually, the Wonder Twins were eliminated altogether in the final season, with Cyborg taking their place
However, from the recent revivals, it does seem like there is an audience for more adventures with the Wonder Twins. Their initial roles may have been campy and with low-quality animations, but there have been many revamps for these characters since then. Super Friends was still among the most popular Saturday morning cartoons in the ‘70s, and the Wonder Twins were major parts of making that happen. Like Aquaman, these twins may soon have a movie to their name as well.