s/heroes (?) appearing in the work of DC Comics
. The Wonder Twins first appeared in the second season of the Superfriends
in 1977 and in their print works in Extreme Justice #9
When the Superfriends first appeared on ABC in the early 70's, their original episodes included a pair of teenagers, Wendy and Marvin, and their cape-wearing dog Wonder Dog. Wendy and Marvin were as useless as speedlimits on I-95 and in the show's second season, the creators of the show introduced to the world a pair that would soon become cultural icons: the Wonder Twins.
The Wonder Twins were a pair of alien siblings Zan and Jayna who hung out with the Superfriends under the guise of being heroes-in-training. They appeared as brown skinned, black haired teenagers wearing purple outfits with their first initials on the front, so they would not get them confused on laundry day. They were also accompanied by their pet monkey Gleek. Gleek was obviously a cool space monkey because though he appeared in nearly everyway identical to an Earth monkey, he was a space monkey because he was blue. He also possessed one of the most dexterous prehensile tails in the known universe, being able to pick up objects like rings of keys from incredible distances. In many ways, Gleek was the most valuable member of the trio.
The Wonder Twins filled the positions left vacant by Wendy and Marvin admirably, getting captured and allowing the Superfriends to wax philosphical just as the predecessors had. But while Wendy and Marvin would do this and then just run around, the Wonder Twins possessed powers of their own, albeit poorly used ones. When the twins would touch hands, they could then declare the forms they wished to take: Jayna the form of an animal and Zan some form of water. They would then declare their catch phrase Wonder Twin Powers Activate! and they would transform into those forms. Hence it was not unusual for Jan to take the form of an eagle and Zan the form of water so they could travel quickly from place to place.
And Gleek. Well, he carried the bucket containing Zan.
Their lame powers and bad dialogue soon created a set of cultural icons that have been part of geek culture for years. Add to that their cheesy Teen Trouble Alert, allowing for moral lessons about smoking, drugs, drag racing, mumbly peg, and the evils of plagiarism, and Jan and Zayna were soon burned into our corporate mind for years to come.
For many years, the Twins never saw their introduction into the DC Universe, being treated like a really bad dream that the creators of the "serious" comics wanted to forget. But in the 1990's, a short-lived Justice League spin-off called Extreme Justice saw the Wonder Twins actually enter the DC universe. The story line involved them being the guardians of a extremely powerful weapon called the Flesh Driver which vaguely sounds like some kind of sex toy, but in fact took the form of a suit of armor. They battled the Extreme Justice team due to a typical communications error and later returned to battle the group that had stolen the Flesh Driver. They teamed with Extreme Justice and defeated the thieves and stayed around to keep an eye on the Flesh Driver which was being used by Booster Gold as a battle suit, albiet without the life-draining properties that the device was known for.
There has been talk in the last few years of a Wonder Twins movie and it is supposedly in development. One can only hope that it sees as much circulation as the 1980's Captain America franchise with Reb Brown or the Roger Corman version of the Fantastic Four.
Timeshredder corrects my original statement that Zan and Jayna first appeared in comic book form in Extreme Justice. During the 1970's, DC Comics did put out a Superfriends comic book in which the twins appeared. Being that this comic is not generally considered part of the DC continuity, it is for greater minds than ours to hash out which should be considered their first appearance. My thanks to Timeshredder for pointing out this first appearance.