Wonder Twins

Wonder Twins


caption=The Wonder Twins with Gleek. Art by Alex Ross.
character_name=Wonder Twins
real_name=Zan and Jayna
publisher=DC Comics
"Super Friends" #7 (October 1977)
"Extreme Justice" #9 (October 1995)
creators=E. Nelson Bridwell
alliances=Super Friends
Justice League
Young Justice
powers=Zan can transform into any form of water
Jayna can transform into any animal.|

The Wonder Twins are a pair of twins, Zan and Jayna, teenage alien superheroes who were helpers to the Super Friends in the Hanna-Barbera animated television series of the same name. In the 1990s , these characters were heavily revamped by DC Comics for modern audiences.

Character history

The pair made their debut in "The All-New Super Friends Hour". Zan and Jayna are siblings from the planet Exxor (also spelled Exor) who were being informally trained by the superheroes. Unlike their predecessors, Wendy Harris and Marvin White, this pair was able to participate in combat with abilities of their own. Their powers were activated when the twins touched each other and spoke the words "Wonder Twin powers, activate!". (In the comics, it was revealed that this phrase was unnecessary, just a habit of theirs.) As they were about to transform, they would each announce their intended form. For example, Zan would announce, "Form of a glacier!"

Their powers were as follows:
*Zan can transform into any form of water, including liquid, mist, steam, or, perhaps most usefully, any kind of functioning ice structure, from a cage for a criminal up to and including, implausibly, complex machinery (such as a rocket engine) made of ice. Also, at one time, he changed into a gelatinous form. By combining with already-existing water, Zan could also increase his mass or volume in the water form chosen. In addition, he could transform himself into weather patterns involving water, such as a blizzard, a monsoon, or a typhoon.

*Jayna can transform into any animal, whether real, mythological, indigenous to Earth or to some other planet, like Beast Boy. She did need to know the name of the animal in order to assume its form, as she would turn into whatever animal she named.

In addition, they had a pet Space Monkey called Gleek who had a useful prehensile tail and whose body could act as a conduit for the twins to activate their powers should they be out of reach. Gleek also served as a courier when the twins needed to travel: Jayna would typically transform into a large eagle, and Zan would transform into (plain) water, "jumping" into a bucket which Gleek conveniently would be holding. (This led to the joke by some fans that Gleek's superpower was to make a bucket appear and disappear at will. "See hammerspace.")

The characters were introduced in the "Super Friends" comic (where they were far more competent, often being the key to solving major situations) and were ignored once the series was cancelled. Jayna's powers in the "Super Friends" comic book were shown to be more extensive, allowing her to transform into even mythical creatures. Similarly, Zan was able to transform into anything tangentially related to water or ice, including a Frost giant.

"Super Friends" version

According to the "Super Friends" comic book, Zan and Jayna are mutants, evolutionary throwbacks to an ancient race of Exxorian shapeshifters. Their parents died when they were still babies (during a plague), and, because of their origin, no Exxorians wanted to adopt them. They ended up adopted by the owner of a Space Circus, who only wanted to use them as sideshow freaks. Fortunately, the circus's clown (or "laugh-maker") was a kind man and raised them. He also gave them Gleek as a pet. Eventually, as teens, the pair escaped the circus and hid on a planet where a space villain called Grax (an enemy of Superman) had set his headquarters. Spying on him, they learned that Grax was planning to destroy the Earth using hidden superbombs. The twins decided to travel to Earth and warn the Justice League; that was how they came to replace Wendy and Marvin (who were planning on retiring as heroes anyway) as their sidekicks. The heroes also arranged for the kids to live with an old scientist called Professor Carter Nichols, and they even took secret identities as John and Joanna Fleming. "Johan" and "Johanna" were supposedly transfer students from Esko, Sweden, disguised with blonde hair (Zan wore a wig, while Jayna used her powers to transform into a human to change her hair color and ear shape), to allow them to attend Gotham City High School.

"Extreme Justice" version

In the 1990s they were introduced into the main DC Universe in the series "Extreme Justice". The series retconned their origin so that they are slaves of an alien villain, later rescued by the Justice League. In "Extreme Justice" #9 (Oct. 1995), unable to speak English, they accidentally attack some civilians and the Justice League. They join Captain Atom's team in issue #16. They had far greater powers than their cartoon counterparts. During their fight with the JLA, Zan became an ice golem, a water monster, and a demonic-looking whirlpool; while Jayna became a griffin, a werewolf, and a sea serpent. Although rarely seen today, this version of the Wonder Twins is still part of the current DC Universe. Later they appeared in "Young Justice" #49–51, wearing uniforms which resembled t-shirts and jeans, to help avenge the murder of Empress's parents. Apparently, the Wonder Twins enjoy the taste of CDs, as they ate several of Wonder Girl's favorite discs.

Other versions

In "Kingdom Come" #2, Zan and Jayna have cameos as a waiter and waitress at a bar that caters to a superhuman clientele.

On the animated TV series Justice League, in episode 9 of season one, "Injustice for all" Part 2, a statue of the Wonder Twins is destroyed during the final battle by Hawkgirl and the Shade. The Wonder Twins themselves never appeared in that episode.

On the TV series "Justice League Unlimited", two characters called Downpour and Shifter have appeared. They are members of the Ultimen, a group of superheroes created by the government. The group is a pastiche of the heroes that were created for "Super Friends", with Downpour and Shifter specifically a pastiche of the Wonder Twins.


Downpour and his twin sister, Shifter, have albino white skin and pointy ears. He has the ability to turn parts of or his entire body into water, and often uses this power in tandem with his sister. Along with the other Ultimen (except Long Shadow), Downpour is fine with the fact that he is a marketing gimmick, and he and Shifter in particular are reported as being popular in the younger age bracket. Due to his powers, he is teased by his teammates about an alleged bed wetting.

Downpour cares deeply for Shifter and gets angry if she is badly harmed. After discovering their true origins and short life expectancies, the Ultimen would do battle with the Justice League in a desperate plan by Wind Dragon. The twins fought Aquaman together and were eventually defeated, even (or perhaps especially) after Downpour turned into a room full of water. When the King of the Sea knocked out his sister, Downpour attacked him in a rage, but his water powers were all but worthless against a man who was completely adapted to living under water. Like the rest of his teammates, he was taken into Cadmus' custody after the fight to await their eventual death.

An army of (mindless, non personality-imprinted) Ultimen clones were later created by Project Cadmus in an attempt to finish off the Justice League once and for all. They were eventually defeated.


Shifter is a fictional character, a former superhero featured in the animated series, "Justice League Unlimited." She has the ability to transform into any Earth based animal, even those that are extinct. A similar power is used by Beast Boy of the "Teen Titans." She has been a member of the Ultimen.

She and her brother, Downpour, have albino white skin and pointed ears. After discovering their true origins and short life expectancies, Shifter took the news the worst and her attitude drastically changed. The Ultimen would do battle with the Justice League in a desperate plan by Wind Dragon. The twins did battle with Aquaman where, despite Shifter turning into a "T. rex", the hero took advantage of Downpour turning into massive quantities of rushing water. The two were beaten with relative ease. Shifter is now locked up like most of the other Ultimen, with their bodies still deteriorating.

The character is based on Jayna of the Wonder Twins from the "Super Friends" and is voiced by Grey DeLisle.

Other media

E! Online reported in 2002 that Warner Bros. was considering a live action Wonder Twins movie.This prompted videogame webcomic Penny Arcade to parody at their [http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2002/06/12 abilities] [Ryan, Joal [http://www.eonline.com/news/article/index.jsp?uuid=1ccbe9a4-8ab6-415a-a87a-b3ec7f41dd9e "Wonder Twins Movie Activates!"] , "Eonline.com", 8 June 2002. Retrieved 16 July 2006.]

The Wonder Twins have been parodied on comedy shows such as "Family Guy", "Dexter's Laboratory", "That '70s Show", "Celebrity Deathmatch", "Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law", "South Park", "Attack of the Show", and Robot Chicken.

In "1999" "South Park" parodied them on their Halloween special "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery". At one point, when it appears that a superheroes help is needed, all members of the band "Korn" touch hands, Shout their names and yell "forms of Corn". They each transform into a different product of Corn, including: "popcorn" and "corn on the cob". When they return to their human form seconds later they are asked how that was useful, to which one of them says "Nothing. It's just fun to do"

In 2002, a series of Wonder Twins shorts appeared on Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim", produced by J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, who also produced the "Harvey Birdman" series. The shorts portrayed the Wonder Twins and Gleek as naïve and ineffectual, usually resulting in a dark-humored outcome. For example, in one short, the Wonder Twins attempt to save a fraternity pledge from a bear. Jayna transforms into a gopher and digs a trench, while Zan transforms into water, forming a moat. Their plan fails when the bear simply steps over the moat and mauls the fraternity pledge. At the fraternity pledge's funeral, the grieving mother chastises the trio (parodying a similar scene from the film "Jaws"), saying that even she knows "a one-inch deep gopher moat won't contain a bear." In another, Zan becomes an ice bridge to save teenagers from falling into a pit, but as it is made of ice and has no rails, the teenagers fall off him. These shorts are parodies of segments during the "Super Friends" animated series in which the teens acted completely on their own in dealing with minor problems, usually involving some danger encountered in the life of an average teen, such as speeding. Cartoon Network has also made several commercials parodying the Super Friends. One such commercial made fun of the ineffectiveness of Zan's powers wherein he says "I could get beaten by a sponge... it wouldn't even have to be an evil sponge!" In a moment which was out of context with the powers of Zan during one of these spots on adult swim, Zan was set to transform, but hadn't decided what to change into yet. He started with his normal opening state "Form of..." but when he takes too long in choosing a form and the incident the Wonder Twins had come to stop happens anyway he ends with "Crap!" and winds up turning into a bucketful of feces. As a further jab to this strange transformation, Jayna is shown (in the form of a pterodactyl) staring in complete befuddlement at what her brother had just turned into.

An episode of "Family Guy" involved Jayna and Peter, whose employment history apparently includes a stint as a Wonder Twin. In order to get to a fire, Jayna forms into a hawk. However, Peter forms into Jayna's tampon and "plays the waiting game" in her purse. In an earlier episode, Peter and Brian attempt to activate Wonder Twins powers from toy rings they found in a box of Frankenberry breakfast cereal.

In the animated show "Fairly Odd Parents", the superheroes, Mighty Mom and Dyno Dad have Wonder Twin-like powers. The joke is that while Mom became a giant shark (a strong animal), Dad turned into a bucket of water, and merely fell on the ground.

In the animated show "SpongeBob SquarePants", the wonder twins are parodied often by Mermaidman and Barnacleboy, who in one episode used doughnuts instead of rings and say,"Mermaidman and Barnacleboy...unite!". In other episodes however, they only parody their phrase when they activate their powers.

In an episode of "Saturday Night Live", a "TV Funhouse" cartoon shows Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein as having powers similar to the Wonder Twins.

The Wonder Twins are parodied in Heavy.com's on-going animated series "Superficial Friends". The clips feature celebrities Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen playing shape-shifting twins. In an unrelated segment of an episode of Adult Swim's "Robot Chicken", entitled "A Day in the Life of the Olsen Twins", the Olsens are also portrayed as having Wonder Twin-like superpowers. In yet another unrelated story, "Celebrity Deathmatch" featured the Olsen Twins using Wonder Twin-like powers when fighting Jack and Kelly Osbourne.

In "Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law", one segment showed Zan as bath water while Wonder Woman was taking a bath.

An [http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2007/3/15hewlett.html entry] on the online humor site McSweeney's Internet Tendency purported to show excerpts from Zan's journal, lamenting his lack of respect from the Super Friends. In one entry, Zan exacts revenge by appearing as a large wet spot on the Flash's tights while he's giving a speech. Another McSweeneys [http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2008/5/28greenman.html piece] purported to be an account of the Wonder Twins helping to solve the subprime mortgage crisis, when in fact the very premise was a cover for a clever robbery plan.

"Scrubs" made at least two references: In one episode Sarah Chalke's character Elliot is recalling playing with her younger brother as the Twins, as Dr. Cox and Turk listen on. In another episode when JD is asked to be Carla and Turk's Best Man, Elliot asks JD if this is his best day ever. Going into flashback mode, JD daydreams of the time he found 2 secret decoder rings from the same box of cereal. Back in real-time JD and Turk touch rings while yelling 'Activate!'. JD then calls out, 'Form of an ice menorah!" (My Porcelain God Season 3 Episode 13)

The Wonder Twins were referenced in an episode of Veronica Mars by the character Vinnie Van Lowe while talking to Keith Mars about working together.

American Pop Punk band Motion City Soundtrack make reference to the Wondertwins in a song entitled "It Had to be You", track number three on their 2007 release "Even If It Kills Me". The second half of the first verse talks of a "certain sense of synergy", described as "a kind of macabre and somber Wondertwin type of harmony".

Hip-Hop group Das Efx mentions The Wonder Twins in the song "Mic Checka". The lyrics being: "I biggity-burn riggity-rubber when I blabber great, I miggity-make the Wonder Twins deactivate"

MovieWeb has reported that Jake Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal might have cameos as the twins in the live-action Justice League of America film.

G4's Attack of the Show has included a skit with hosts Kevin Pereira as Zan and Olivia Munn as Jayna, struggling with getting kicked out of the Justice League, blamed mostly on "Zan". The joke culminates with an appearance by Aquaman who insists he's still in the League. "Why, what have you heard?"

In the sixtieth episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast entitled "Lawsuit", Space Ghost saw his old helpers Jan and Jace but did not remember their names due to his years of hosting a talk-show so he called them the Wonder Twins.


External links

* [http://www.seanbaby.com/superfriends/wondertwins.htm Seanbaby's Wonder Twins page]
* [http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2007/3/15hewlett.html Personal Journal of Zan]

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