Rather radically (but no doubt temporarily) changing Wonder Woman’s costume is perhaps the best thing DC Comics has done for the character this century.
At least it is if the goal was to get people talking about Wonder Woman again, because people are certainly talking about Wonder Woman again. In fact, pretty much anyone who talks about comics and superheroes ever at any point has talked specifically about Wonder Woman over the course of the last few days.
It may simply be a matter of being closer to Wondy’s wardrobe change than other newsworthy events in the recent past, but I certainly don’t remember this much attention paid the character during other outside-the-comics-media-newsworthy events in her recent history, like big, famous “real” book author Jodi Picoult writing an arc, or the famously female Gail Simone becoming the regular writer (I remember a bunch of “Hey, a woman writing Wonder Woman!” article around that time) or any Wonder Woman movie shenanigans.
Sure, not all of the reactions have been positive (just scroll down a bit for discussion of one of the more negative reactions from someone outside of comics), but over the course of the last few days, Wonder Woman has been on everyone’s lips…or at least finger tips.
So congratulations to DC on that at least. Publicity-wise, I don’t know how you can chalk this up as anything other than a win.
When the announcement first hit and reactions started rolling in, I had told myself that I’d do a round up of various reactions to the redesign on Blog@ on Thursday, providing a one-stop shopping link post for interested parties and offering some of my own thoughts. But reaction to the costume has been so overwhelming that I am well beyond whelmed—I honestly could not keep up with people talking about Wonder Woman, and my “job” is to sit in front of my computer and keep up with people talking about superhero trivia like costume changes and new directions. That’s how much people are talking about Wonder Woman these days!
As I was trying to keep up with all the commentary, I noticed that a lot of what I originally thought had been said elsewhere, so I’ll keep this short and simple.
After the jump, some quick thoughts on Wonder Woman’s new duds and directions, in handy numbered format!
1.) Honest to God, when I first saw an image of the new Wonder Woman costume on DC’s Source blog (which is bursting at the electronic seams with people talking about all things Wonder Woman this week, so do check it out if you’re a fan or can’t get enough of the conversation), was that it was a picture of Gypsy.
Gypsy is, of course, a minor DC superhero who was introduced by Gerry Conway in 1984 and would become a member of what has ecome known as the Detroit Era of the Justice League. At the time, she wore an outfit that looked like what one might expect a comic book character named Gypsy to wear.
But when she resurfaced in the ’90s in Justice League Task Force (drawn by Sal Velluto), she looked like this:
More recently she appeared in Birds of Prey, as part of the “One Year Later” line-up, in which she put a shirt on, and thus looked even closer to Wonder Woman’s new look.
Anyway, a lot of folks saw Wondy’s new jacket, choker and pants looks and thought immediately of other be-jacketed superheroes (like the X-Men, or some of these guys)
Me, I thought of another black-haired Justice League character.
Wonder Woman’s wardrobe change is great news for Gypsy though—that means now one’s currently sporting the iconic red bathing suit with star-spangled shorts look if she wants to fill the void!
2.) My next thought was, “Hey, that looks an awful lot like the Wonder Woman from Justice Riders just took off her hat!”
This is the Wonder Woman from 1997 Elseworlds special Justice Riders:
3.) The costume that gets mentioned most often in these discussions seems to be her bra and biker-shorts combo from the early ’90s, when Artemis became the official Wonder Woman and our Wondy was doing her superheroing under the name “Diana.”
The comparison’s apt, as it’s one of the few times in her history Wondy’s forsaken the flag-inspired patterns, and, of course, it has a jacket.
No one seems to like that look, and who can blame them? On the other hand, in terms of pure practicality, the biker shorts and jacket look actually seems to be the most practical one she’s ever worn, up to including this new one (whatever’s going on around here feet looks a little uncomfortable).
It’s essentially what you might wear to do aerobics, go jogging or lift weights in, right? (Assuming that top is some sort of jog bra thing and not, I don’t know, leather?). Isn’t that what superheroing is like? Working out? Hell, I think she’s even wearing socks and comfortable tennis shoes in that costume. That has to be the most comfortable Wonder Woman’s feet have ever been.
When I’ve thought about superheroine costumes over the last few years—which I do a lot more than I should, probably—I’ve been thinking of the sports wear lady athletes wear in the Olympics and the costumes ladies wear on Dancing With the Stars, and figured the sort of thing Wonder Woman would wear in “the real world” would fall somewhere in between.
Of course, the Jim Lee design looks like something she’d be able to wear into a convenience store without being stared at or refused service, so perhaps that’s best for the purposes of the story.
4.) Tom “Comics Reporter” Spurgeon had an interesting take I think is worth noting, even if if the avalanche of reactions got away from me: “As sports teams have learned, if your new costume stinks you can go back to the classic but if it works you now have two to sell…You have to execute that costume well because 1) the first one is very iconic, and 2) it also has that Sub-Mariner factor of ‘I showed up to beat your ass in my pageant swimsuit and tiara’ that actually makes Wonder Woman more terrifying than a standard costume might.”
I’ve always loved Namor, and quite particularly the fact that his costume was something that a good 90% of people would be embarrassed to be seen by another human being wearing, but he was always just flying around New York City in it, fighting wars in it, talking to the media in it, etc. There’s something about being a head of state and supervillain and/or superhero wearing a Speedo that makes him seem both horrifyingly insane and inhumanly brave. If you put Superman, in his head-to-toe tights with cape and extra pair of underwear with a belt holding them up next to Namor, Superman seems a bit insecure, doesn’t he?
I’ve never really thought of Wonder Woman in those terms before, but, yeah, I suppose in real life if someone came out in you in a one-piece bathing suit and tiara…yikes!
5.) Like several other bloggers, I saw the new design and immediately revisited Project: Rooftop’s 2007 “Wonder Woman Wardrobe War” costume redesign contest.
I’m sure there are some legal reasons why DC (and Marvel, when it comes to their characters) don’t do contests like Project: Rooftop does, but I’m always amazed at how great so many of the results end up looking, often shaming the stuff some of the pros have done over the years.
Scanning through them again, I think Daniel Krall’s Wonder Girl costume would have worked perfectly well the purposes of the new Wonder Woman direction, as it looks urban, superheroic, mythological and practical all at once. (I love Krall’s Wonder Woman design so much that I think I’d wear it…around the house anyway, if not to job interview or on first dates. But I can see how that’d be too classic for the direction the folks at DC seem to be going in.)
6.) Now, let’s talk about the direction. Me, I’m willing to be won over, although I think I’ll be waiting for a trade before giving new writer J. Michael Straczynski the chance to do so.
Wonder Woman has always been ne of those characters I wanted to like enough to always follow but, a few exceptions aside—Phil Jimenez, George Perez—runs on her monthly book never seemed as “right” or likable as those Golden Age ones to me.
I think that is, in large part, because Wonder Woman is a sort of doomed, tragic character. Since her origin is so inextricably tied up in World War II, her origin is always going to be problematic for DC Comics, and no one seems to have found the perfect way to get around that—Perez and John Byrne certainly tried, but each approach had their own drawbacks (Byrne’s made Wonder Woman into a legacy character, for example, and we’ll get to Perez’s in a paragraph or so). The best I can come up with would have been to keep her origin in tact, and all her awesome Golden Age adventures in continuity as is, but have her age, since she’s immortal and all. But even that has its drawbacks, as it would mean her supporting characters would be in their nineties, and she’d pre-date Superman and Batman by decades, and DC (rightly, I think) wants to keep their “Trinity” as the ever-current generation of heroes in their universe.
So how do you solve a problem like Diana?
Sight unseen—that is, hearing about the direction without actually reading any of it—my immediate reaction to the new direction is to recoil from it, as it sounds like yet another reboot of sorts. And another reboot sounds like the last thing Wonder Woman needs, since a great deal of the problems with the character with the post-Crisis On Infinite Earths reboot that occurred during George Perez’s work on the character, and she just had another mild re-boot after Infinite Crisis (although that was more a more of de-rebooting of elements of the post-first Crisis reboot…de-booting?) which moved her Perez-era origins backwards in DCU history and thus left a lot of DCU history vague and unresolved.
Wonder Woman, like Hawkman and Donna Troy, has therefore over the years become a problem spot for the DC Universe. She’s a character that interconnects with so much of the universe that any changes to her story affect pretty much everybody else.
For example, any sort of mucking around with Wonder Woman history JMS may be doing will have consequences; what will it do to Donnay Troy and Cassie Sandsmark and Hippolyta? And then what does that do to the original Teen Titans/The Titans/JLA and to Young Justice/Teen Titans and to the JSA? What about Wondy’s role in recent events like the lead-up to Infinite Crisis (the neck-snapping, a plot point central to Justice League: Generation Lost) or her fairly major role in Blackest Night? And on and on.
Basically, Wonder Woman stories make my head hurt.
7.) Earlier today retailer Mike Sterling noted:
My primary concern, at first, is that I do get kids coming into the shop who, having seen Wonder Woman on TV, now want Wonder Woman comics. And here we are with the one Wonder Woman series where Wonder Woman herself is no longer in her recognizable, iconic costume.
But he then immediately resolved his own concern:
Of course, I then realized it’s not that big of a deal, since the actual monthly WW title hasn’t been very attractive to child readers for about twenty years, and changing the costume won’t make any difference to that segment of the market. I’ve plenty of back issues from the ’70s and ’80s, and there are the character’s appearances in the comics based on the cartoons, so I’ve got a good selection to offer our younger Wonder Woman fans. (Any older Wonder Woman fans who aren’t already funnybook fans invariably want merchandise…they couldn’t care less about the comics.)
That is certainly something for DC to consider though, isn’t it? DC’s non-Batman superhero characters don’t really have a Marvel Adventures-like all-ages option the way they did when Justice League Unlimited was being published. Well, Batman does, and Captain Marvel does, and that’s about it. It would be great if DC could do a Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!-style Wonder Woman book at some point, especially considering the fact that Wonder Woman is perhaps their only character created specifically for an audience of little girls. If there can be a Batman: Brave and the Bold Batman and a beats-up serial killers Batman, surely there can be at least two Wonder Women, right?
8.) Finally, three officially makes it a trend, right? The new DC either hates knees or loves pants.