Next to Superman and the Batman, there is only one character in fiction whose stories have been in continuous publication for about 70 years now. Created by William Moulton Marston, whose research helped the creation of the lie detector, this character is the third part of the “trinity” of DC Comics: Wonder Woman.
Long ago, the goddesses of Olympus resurrected women of Earth who had been unjustly murdered by man’s aggression. These women of various ages, races and backgrounds became known as the Amazons and inspired many myths. After a brief enslavement at the hands of Herakles and his men, the Amazons retreated from “Patriarch’s World” and went to live on Themyscira, a magical “Paradise Island” where they would be hidden and wouldn’t age.
The centuries went on and the Amazons made a peaceful society, developing advanced technology and always practicing their warrior ways. But Queen Hypollyta had been pregnant when she’d first lived and been murdered and she still longed for a child. Making a baby out of mud and clay, she asked the goddesses for this one favor and they gave her a daughter: Diana, blessed with incredible speed, strength, resiliency, heightened senses, a connection to animals, and the ability to fly.
Eventually, when Princess Diana was barely out of her teens, the Amazons realized they couldn’t remain detached from the outside world. They chose Diana as their warrior ambassador, to spread their teachings and fight off anything that threatened Earth and her children. Given blessed armor and a mystical lasso of truth that compelled others to obey her, Diana was called “Wonder Woman.” Over the years, she’s done many amazing things while wearing a wide variety of outfits. And her latest costume has caused a lot of debate, including amongst myself and some special guest commentators in this piece.
But enough backstory. Let’s take a look, shall we?
IN THE BEGINNING
It was 1941 when Diana was first introduced to the world of comics in All-Star Comics #8. The original costume was meant to emulate the American flag, since Diana was told that she would have to fight for American ideals against the Nazi menace. Like Captain America and other patriotic characters of the time, it directly incorporates elements of Old Glory, has the same color scheme, and is decorated with a proud eagle. Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston also deliberately had her adorned in strong primary colors since kids seem to react positively to this in superhero designs.
By fitting the tiara completely around the hair, it more resembles a crown, giving a sense that Diana is literally a princess. The bracelets are said to be strong enough to deflect bullets when she wants them to, but here they seem a bit too small to be effective. In the story, it was said that Wonder Woman’s people wore bracelets as a reminder that they had once been subjugated by men. What’s more, it was later revealed that if Wonder Woman (or any Amazon) removed her bracelets, she would lose control of herself and fly into a berserker rage.
All of this was certainly in keeping with Marston’s idea on the beneficial nature of certain forms of submission, an interesting contrast to his intention that Wonder Woman also be a character who emphasized strength and proved herself superior to any man she came across. And before anyone thinks I’m saying Martson wanted all women enslaved to men, I should point out that he often spoke quite seriously of his belief that women were more honest and more in harmony with nature and that the best state of affairs was if the world were ruled by a matriarchal society.
Point of trivia, Marston lived with his wife and their children, as well as his mistress/assistant and THEIR children. And his assistant was known for always wearing bracelets. Hmmm…
Almost immediately, the skirt (or culottes, depending on the panel) were replaced with star-spangled shorts. The form fitting nature certainly makes Diana more identifiable as a superhero rather than someone attending a patriotically-themed pageant. Some could argue that they’re also more practical for a woman who’s going to be leaping and occasionally performing acrobatic and martial arts maneuvers in battle. At this time, although Diana was stronger and faster than other women, she didn’t operate on the superhuman levels that she does today. So in my mind, she definitely would’ve benefited from a little more protection back in these days.
Starting in 1950, Diana traded in her boots for sandals. These certainly remind us of the warriors of Greek myth after which she’s modeled, but they don’t seem like serious footwear for a warrior who occasionally has to help defend the world. The shorts are also getting a bit shorter. This move towards making Diana more feminine in her design came at a time when the character herself became less about being a warrior and more prone to stories where she was constantly trying to escape romantic entanglements from people like Amoeba-Man, Bird-Man and Mer-Man. She even left her civilian job at the military and was put in charge of a romantic advice column.
Along with these new stories, there were also now stories of Diana’s childhood, depicting her as an Amazon teenager. As “Wonder Girl”, she got into weird adventures and occasionally, much to everyone’s lack-of-surprise, had to avoid the romantic advances of people like Mer-Boy and Bird-Boy. In these stories, she wore this alternative version of her outfit that was basically a skirt and a shirt with a slightly Romanesque design on it.
A pretty cute outfit and a nice blend of the past and present. Now, some of you will hear stories that a writer made the mistake of calling Wonder Girl “Donna” and that this led to a later comic book story treating her as a new, separate character. That story is a comic book urban legend and has been proven false. Although Wonder Girl was called “Annie” in one story, she wasn’t truly treated as a separate character from Diana until she appeared alongside the new teenage team of sidekicks, the Teen Titans. There, she shared adventures alongside the original Robin, the first Kid Flash and the original Aqualad. During these early adventures, DC Comics finally revealed that Wonder Girl was actually “Donna Troy,” Diana’s younger, adopted sister who was given similar abilities.
Many years after this, Donna’s origin got a bit more complicated and soon after she entered her 20s, she left behind the “Wonder Girl” title, going only by her real name or by the nickname “Troia.” A young teenage hero Cassie Sandsmark later became the new Wonder Girl. Rest assured, I’ll do a separate piece on the fashion the different Wonder Girls soon.
DIANA PRINCE, MARTIAL ARTIST
As the Silver Age of comics began in the late 1950s, Wonder Woman rejoined the military and also got a bit of a power increase. She was now much stronger and could also glide on air currents. In 1965, Wonder Woman got her boots back at last but otherwise looked the same. That was all about to change, however. Denny O’Neil became the new writer of the book not too long afterward and he had some ideas of how to make Diana relevant and a fan-favorite again. Starting in 1969, O’Neil was the writer who had changed Green Arrow from a happy-go-lucky rich playboy into a man who lost his fortune and became a cantankerous, highly opinionated left-wing activist. In the 1970s, O’Neil would become very well known for making Green Lantern a much more grounded character, having him question his life as he went on a road trip to “discover America” with Green Arrow. And around the same time, it was O’Neil, along with artist partner Neal Adams, who brought Batman back to being a much darker character and who also returned the Joker to his roots as a psychotic killer.
But all those successes were in the future. Before all that, O’Neil attempted a similar thing with Wonder Woman in 1968, introducing a whole new take on things. First, Paradise Island was forced to leave Earth’s dimension. Diana could either go with them or remain on Earth but lose her powers in the process. Diana chose to remain and almost immediately afterward, her love Steve Trevor was seemingly killed. Diana was then found by a mysterious, blind martial arts master named I-Ching who taught our hero new ways to fight.
Already a skilled and experienced warrior, Diana was able to master these martial arts in a matter of weeks and began a new life as an world-traveling adventurer. She was no longer Wonder Woman, fighting demonic forces and mad gods in-between journeying to other planets with the Justice League of America. Now she was just Diana Prince, private investigator and fashion boutique owner, who would team up with non-powered folks such as Johnny Double and Tim Trench as she hunted down spies and strange criminals.
Diana didn’t have a set costume during this time. First, she wore a couple of modern outfits and jumpsuits. Later on, she made a habit of wearing a variety of outfits that all happened to be colored white.
Needless to say, this wasn’t exactly the Wonder Woman people knew and loved and many people objected to it. O’Neil had believed that by making Wonder Woman a person who was able to fight evil through sheer skill and determination rather than through the use of powers, he had given women a more empowered hero. But women saw it as an attack that the most widely-known female superhero had lost her powers and the costume that made her recognizable to people around the world.
There was also criticism that, after losing her abilities, Diana seemed less aggressive and more doubtful of herself. Gloria Steinem herself called out DC Comics for de-powering Wonder Woman in the first issue of Ms. Magazine. Years later, O’Neil admitted he had made a mistake and understood why.
These outfits don’t fit into the category of “costume” or “uniform”, so we can’t really judge them other than the fact that they seem inspired by Emma Peel and similar women adventurers in pop culture at the time. Some of these outfits are not bad, though dated.
And some of these outfits… wow… Did Diana just come back from a David Bowie concert? Okay, moving on…
A NEW CLASSIC
A while later, Diana’s powers were restored and she resumed her Wonder Woman identity, also rejoining the Justice League of America after she felt she had proven herself still worthy of membership. The eagle became more stylized now and artists began extending the belt as leading into the symbol. And her hair now went over the tiara.
At this time, Wonder Woman’s shorts now began to truly resemble the bottom of a swimsuit. Also, her belt finally became golden in color and it gave the costume a better uniformity. The white belt had always broken up the flow of the outfit, I think, but this gave it a nice balance. Artists also began drawing the bracelets a bit bigger, making them look more like they had a purpose beyond decoration. For many folks, this is the “classic Pre-Crisis look.”
What’s the Crisis? Keep quiet, we’ll get to that.
Then, in 1982, Diana got herself a new symbol. The eagle was shortened down to such a degree that it now looked like a stylized “WW.” This became Wonder Woman’s official, trademarked seal and would influence all future artists.
1985 was DC’s 50th anniversary and they celebrated with a crossover called Crisis on Infinite Earths. The story involved nearly all of the company’s characters and focused on a villain who was trying to destroy all parallel universes and absorb their energies until he finally became God. He was stopped, but not without sacrifice and in the midst of everything the DC Universe was revised. It was the company’s hope that they could attract new and younger readers by tweaking, streamlining and modernizing some of their characters. Wonder Woman was definitely a target of this. In 1987, a new ongoing Wonder Woman series started, giving the character stronger power and a revised origin.
George Perez was the new artist and quickly took over writing as well, giving us a Wonder Woman far more engrossed in Greek mythology. Diana’s strength and resiliency were now said to be great enough that, coupled with her fighting skills, she could give Superman a very good fight. And she no longer glided on air currents. She could fly by her own force of will, like many other superheroes, thanks to the blessings of the Greek goddesses.
In the new Post-Crisis continuity, it was said that Diana’s suit was considered a special armor blessed by the gods and that Diana had similar suits of armor for different occasions. Perez added a metallic sheen to Diana’s costume, helping the idea that this was armor. The golden belt was now clearly an extra layer of metal.
The bracelets were extended slightly and always given a silver shine to them now, making Diana stand out from the other Amazons who only had simple steel bracelets. The idea that Diana would go nuts if the bracelets were removed was dropped. Now, the bracelets were purely reminders to Amazons of their previous subjugation and of the debt they owed to the goddesses for their freedom later on.
You notice what else Perez did? Check out the boots. No more heels. Perez didn’t think the heels let you take Diana too seriously as a fighter, so he removed them. But he also didn’t want Batman and Superman towering over her now, so he made Diana a bit taller too.
Starting in the late 1950s, Diana’s origin had been redone so that it didn’t include going to Man’s World (now called “Patriarch’s World”) to fight Nazis and to specifically emulate the U.S. But there hadn’t been an explanation as to why, then, she would be wearing a seemingly patriotic outfit. Perez finally explained this by saying that years before, a USAF pilot named Diana Trevor (mother of Steve) had crashed onto the island home of the Amazons and had died while helping them fight off some demons. To honor her, the Amazons took note of the insignia on her jacket and adopted what they believed were her coat of arms.
Brian Bolland became the cover artist on Wonder Woman for a while and on occasion he would draw her symbol as a separate layer of golden metal laid over the red. This made it not just Wonder Woman’s insignia but a small chest guard.
In the 90s, it was cool to have your heroes decked out in black leather and/or to throw a jacket on them as an accessory. Some also seemed to enjoy pouches and shoulder pads in an alarming way. Diana was a victim of this trend.
In a story where she lost the mantle of Wonder Woman to an Amazon named Artemis (get it? Artemis = Diana. so clever), our hero found she was no longer the chosen warrior of her people. But that was okay, she could still be a hero in her own way. So she got a hair cut, a black outfit, wore a jacket with stars on it, and apparently had someone custom make her a “WW” belt.
Where do I even friggin’ begin? The lame jacket that has no pockets nor zipper nor buttons and cannot possibly close in front? The weird, teeny-tiny boots? The bra replacing a shirt? Or how about the weird double-belt around Diana’s stomach? Is that for protection or has she tightened it so that she doesn’t fall into the temptation of ever eating?
I get that the story was supposed to be Diana sans the Wonder Woman title. But I’m sorry, this is not something Diana would wear.
Diana became Wonder Woman again later on, of course. John Byrne took over the book and decided to tweak her look again. The bracelets became even bigger, now covering most of her forearm and emphasizing that they were there for protective purposes and not just decoration. A very nice touch. And like the 70s, the belt was extended into the chest guard. He also increased the size of the tiara. Not sure how I feel about that one way or the other.
Byrne didn’t care for drawing so many stars on Wonder Woman’s shorts, so he said screw it and just had two stars on the front and back. I understand the reason for this and, as someone who does art occasionally, I get that there are some things you don’t feel like drawing again and again. But the two big stars make this look even more like a swimsuit to my mind. Maybe that’s just me, though.
As his run continued, Byrne brought back some of Wonder Woman’s World War II history. Of course, to keep Diana young and cemented in the modern-day, he couldn’t say that Diana had been around back then, fighting Nazis alongside the Justice Society. So instead, he had a story where Diana died and her spirit went to Olympus, leading her mother Hippolyta (“Polly” to friends) to take on the mantle of Wonder Woman.
Byrne outfitted Polly in his own version of the original suit. Though again, the skirt had just a few large stars rather than truly being star-spangled. And she now had a “WW” belt which, for my mind, is a bit overkill when she also has the eagle chest-guard. Making the eagle double as armor and a bra is a nice touch, though. And altering the tiara with a curved design, while also giving Polly a sword and shield, emphasize to the reader that this is not Diana despite the resemblance. Love the “WW” sword handle too.
In any event, Polly wore this outfit and then wound up on a time travel adventure to the 1940s, where she lived out the WW II adventures of Wonder Woman. Aren’t paradoxes fun, boys and girls?
Now what was Diana doing all this time while she was on Olympus? Oh, you know, hanging out, being the new goddess of truth. On Olympus, she wore this cool little variation of her outfit that seems almost like formal wear. It’s definitely nice. Not good for battle maybe, but it’s not meant to be either.
Eventually, Diana came back from being a goddess and was once again a mortal woman with super-powers. She went back to the Perez design, but now artists felt the freedom to be a little more fast and loose with her outfit.
Writer/artist Phil Jimenez, author of The Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia, took over Diana’s comic and had fun putting our hero in quite a few variations of her outfit. Depending on whether she was addressing the U.N., appearing before a school, riding a motorcycle with a friend, or having an adventure with the JLA, Wonder Woman was always dressed for the occasion and always looked good.
Diana would also sport a new battle armor now and then, adapted from a design by Alex Ross that was used in the epic story Kingdom Come that he did with writer Mark Waid.
And speaking of different armors, Diana had a hardcore warrior look during the story JLA: Rock of Ages when we found her living in a possible future ruled by the evil god Darkseid.
A fun twist on things for a story where all hope is lost and every day is a battle. Though the clawed gauntlets are a bit freaky to me.
After the events of the crossover Infinite Crisis, a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths, Diana, Batman and Superman all disappeared for roughly one year. When it didn’t look like Diana was coming back, her younger sister Donna Troy decided to step in as the new Wonder Woman.
This outfit is very cool. It looks ready for battle and is, perhaps, more “realistic” in the eyes of some than an armored bathing suit. But I wonder if it’s too much. Diana is a warrior, yes, but she’s also a teacher and an ambassador. She doesn’t invite conflict or look for a fight, whereas this suit might imply otherwise.
Very pretty, though. And works just fine for Donna, especially with that silver color and the starlight skirt.
Diana came back and started sporting this new outfit. It’s basically the same, except that now the “WW” belt has returned, there are seams going up the middle of the armor, implying that it’s leather, and the symbol is now a melding of the “WW” and eagle design.
I like this look except for the belt. It’s just repetitive to me to have your symbol on your front body TWICE.
In the recent crossover Blackest Night, Diana was given a Star Sapphire ring. The Star Sapphires are like Green Lanterns, except that they are all about “love” rather than “will” and their costumes tend to get more and more revealing as the days go on.
Sorry, Diana, but no. I cannot really approve of this suit. Why do the thigh-high boots have no knees? And really, it looks like you’re just wearing a giant thong.
Before we go on, let’s talk to one of my favorite people to have worked on Wonder Woman. Joining us for a bit is writer/artist Phil Jimenez!
NOTE: The following interview with Phil Jimenez happened BEFORE Diana’s new costume made its debut in Wonder Woman #600.
ALAN KISTLER: “So, Phil. First, do you prefer Diana in a skirt or tight shorts? Does it matter?”
PHIL JIMENEZ: “I actually like both; as with all fashion, it depends on the context, I suspect. I prefer the shorts for ‘battle’ and the skirt for casual scenes, although I suspect she could rock either at any moment, given who we’re talking about.
“Does it matter? It probably matters some commercially; the tight shorts are, arguably, sexier, and considering how important ‘sexy’ is to the core comic book consumer, she probably sells better in the bikini. Plus, most regular folks know Wonder Woman from the Lynda Carter show, and she certainly wore the French cut version of the costume (the 70’s era seasons) with some aplomb…”
ALAN: “Interesting. I find that as I’ve gotten older, I prefer her in the skirt in general, but I wouldn’t mind if she ripped it off when an enemy showed up, revealing the shorts underneath. I think the skirt just adds something regal about her and reminds us she’s a warrior PRINCESS. I also like how it gives a sense of motion. Tell me, do you prefer her chest guard as a stylized ‘WW’ or as an eagle design?”
PHIL: “I’ve never heard the term ‘chest guard!’ Again, it’s context. I actually like the stylized ‘WW’ from both an aesthetic and a brand perspective; it’s a symbol, and an easy one to draw. I love super-hero emblems or shields (I think the JLA has a fantastic roster of symbols, as does the Legion), and I think the stylized double-W is a strong, clean symbol that also has some time and history behind it. It was developed in the early 80’s right? That makes it almost 30 years old!
“I also think it depends on time period. I much prefer the eagle on the World War II version of the character, and the stylized double-W on the modern version. I really loved the eagle on Hippolyta’s WW armor …
“Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the stylized double-W chest guard AND the double-W belt. It seems like a bit of overkill; I much prefer it when the chest guard becomes more eagle-like, just to prevent the repetition. It’s like Superman having an S-shield on his chest and his belt!”
ALAN: “I completely agree on that last point. Just makes me think the hero has low self-esteem. ‘You remember who I am, right?’ Just doesn’t work for me. So, should Diana even have a standard look? Or can any artist give their own take since Perez established she has multiple suits?”
PHIL: “Tricky question. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, and I love the idea that Diana has multiple versions of her armor. Further, artists have long been free to interpret characters like Batman and Spider-Man with outrageously successful results, so why not Wonder Woman? Let the artists play, and see what they discover about her and bring to the character and their work. Bolland, Perez, and Hughes are my favorite WW artists, and they certainly don’t have the same approach to the character (although their approach to costume itself is remarkably consistent, thinking about it)…
“That said, the character has suffered commercially for ages because of a lack of overall consistency of tone and continuity on her book. Artistic flourishes are one thing, but altering the costume ad nauseam hasn’t helped, especially the flip-flopping between pre- and post-Crisis versions.”
ALAN: “Right. In flashbacks these days, artists occasionally have her in the sandals and longer shorts again even though, continuity-wise, that shouldn’t exist any more. A bit confusing. Now, in an episode of my web-series Crazy Sexy Geeks, I asked several women, including a couple of American Gladiators, whether they thought Wonder Woman’s outfit needed to be more practical. Particularly, should she wear trousers? The almost universal response was no, keep the bare legs. Your thoughts?”
PHIL: “I liked her in tight pants when she was in outer space. As ever, design and context matter! But as a traditional uniform, well – I’ll take the bare legs.”
ALAN: “Her WW II incarnation could have benefited from trousers, but once they established that she was a lot more powerful in the 1980s and could knock down Superman with a punch, I stopped caring. If you’re that strong, you don’t need armor from conventional weapons so why not advertise that you’re a powerful woman? A few girls pointed out to me they really enjoyed it that she could wear an outfit like that and still effectively kick bad-guy ass. Of course, we all agreed that the shorts should never be drawn as a bikini bottom. And interestingly, simply by making the skirt leather and Romanesque in the story New Frontier, a lot of people found more acceptable than having the skirt made from cloth.”
PHIL: “Ironically, I think it’s the bottoms that really make everyone crazy. I prefer a minimal star pattern, a la the Lynda Carter/1970’s version of the costume. And I prefer a royal blue as opposed to a lighter blue. So while I do think the stars matter, I also think the shorts themselves cause the most trouble for people not accustomed to the costume or who want her to have a more serious, ‘warrior-ready’ uniform.
“I have a problem with people wanting superhero costumes to be too practical anyway. It’s less fun to draw. I’m not concerned if it would translate realistically to a movie, that’s someone else’s job.”
ALAN: “A very fair point. If the medium you’re working in offers you more freedom, why limit yourself? It’s funny, I’ll accept Hawkeye wearing his mask but I didn’t like it when his replacement Kate Bishop wore a scarf because then I thought it would get caught in the bowstring.”
PHIL: “Even though the mask is just as unrealistic.”
ALAN: “When you think about it, yeah. But I accept the mask because that’s standard superhero fare. Unless it just looked dumb, in which case I won’t like it. Interesting. Well, thanks for this, man.”
ALAN DAVIS DESIGNS
I normally don’t delve into Elseworlds stories and the like, but in this case I felt compelled to include a couple of designs that artist/writer Alan Davis put forth in his mini-series JLA: The Nail. This first look is the classic look Diana was sporting starting in the 80s, with the armored style that George Perez gave it. But notice that the WW crest has its top edge curved downward, just to imply it’s an eagle’s head. It’s a small touch that I think is quite nice.
Alan Davis added further changes when he depicted Diana in this “ceremonial garb” she wore for a White House function. The expanded eagle has the WW crest while also giving a clearer idea of it being a bird and actually functioning as a breast plate now rather than a band of metal decorating her chest. This, along with the new boots, really emphasize this is armor rather than just a costume.
The skirt is a sexier cut but avoids going into the bathing suit territory that many have criticized. And I dig the gold hem to it. Also notice that Diana’s tiara has been given a greater size and weight to it. It now seems like it functions as protection for her head and not purely as decoration. But it doesn’t go overboard and make it a helmet either. You don’t want to completely lose the element of a tiara. Diana doesn’t need to deny the fact that she’s a girl or a princess in order to be tough. She’s both!
That cape might seem a bit much, but in general Diana has occasionally worn capes to certain ceremonies and functions and has always been able to quickly and easily throw it off when she had to rush into action. All in all, I think translating this look to live-action would give us quite a classy Wonder Woman.
JIM LEE’S ALTERATIONS
Artist Jim Lee is good. There’s no denying that. There’s a reason why he’s now co-publisher of DC Entertainment with Dan Didio. Over the years, he’s occasionally drawn Wonder Woman. Sometimes, he’s done a more classic design such as what’s above. Other times, he’s thrown in his own tweaks.
In the story “Superman For Tomorrow,” Diana and Superman wound up fighting (not for the first or last time either). In this, Diana wore the eagle-crest, along with the star-decorated bathing suit bottom with the star-spangled skirt over it.
There are a couple of alterations that are small but still very interesting. The tiara is shaped in such a way that it reminds me of a Roman helmet, meant to protect her forehead rather than just decorate it. She’s got a Romanesque cloak, decorated with stars over gold lining. Buckles and knee pads have been added to her boots, making them look more practical and realistic but maintaining their superhero style.
I rather like this look. A few minor touches and I see more of the Greco-Roman influences in Diana’s life. But those touches aren’t over-powering, we still know that this is a modern-day superhero. Just as with the character Thor, one of the keys to Diana is to balance out the myth with the story of a hero in today’s colorful world of costumed crusaders.
And I think Jim Lee shows that Diana can still rock that skirt like no one’s business.
In Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman & Robin, Jim Lee once again gave a modified version of Diana. Similar to his “For Tomorrow” version, except that here the tiara definitely has a Roman warrior look to it. It’s functional as a face guard now rather than as a crown that can be thrown like a boomerang.
I get that this was a callback to Frank Miller’s own design for Diana in his mini-series The Dark Knight Strikes Back. But I don’t like it. If you make Diana look too fearsome, I don’t buy her as a teacher who believes in peace and understanding before battle. And that’s essential to the character. For Miller’s version of the DC characters though, this does work.
THE NEW DESIGN
This week, many fans were shocked to see that Diana got herself a whole new look. New writer J. Michael Straczynski has stated in interviews that he felt fans saw Diana as matronly rather than young and sexy and that her look was too outdated. Working with Jim Lee on design, this new look was realized.
In the new story, time and space has been altered slightly and as a result, Diana has spent a lot of her time raised on the streets rather than on Paradise Island. She also doesn’t have all of her powers yet (but those are supposed to come in time). As the issues go on, she will realize her life has been altered and will no doubt work to change things back to their proper order.
I was a bit taken aback by this new look at first and needed a day to collect my thoughts. To help me figure out my feelings, I discussed the new look with Entertainment Earth’s Geek Girl Diva, Jill Pantozzi (Newsarama contributor and the mind behind the blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics”), and my old pal, fashion authority Tim Gunn of Liz Claiborne.
JILL PANTOZZI: “I’m not against change but when you’re dealing with a character who’s been around for almost 70 years, it’s best to take baby steps. Diana’s look is iconic, making her one of the only female characters known worldwide. Now when you look at her she’s just another face in the crowd. The only thing I like about the new costume design is that her top has straps to hold it up.
“The pants… can we even call them pants? Or maybe I should ask, where are her shoes? Because it’s all one solid piece of whatever material they’re supposed to be. Maybe DC has invented waist-high boots. Personally I’d prefer she wore a blue Xena-like, heavy duty skirt. The Romans fought in them, why can’t Diana?”
Geek Girl Diva: “Those aren’t pants. They’re leggings. [Xena] managed to kick ass in what she wore and not look like a slut. If you’re going to update something, then update it into a fresher, cleaner look.”
Tim, however, did not hate this outfit and thought it made sense for the storyline in question.
TIM GUNN: “I believe in the semiotics of fashion and this new look says, ‘I’m confident, I’m powerful, I’m sexy, and don’t mess with me.’ Furthermore, she looks like a citizen of the real world rather than a creature from another land.”
Fair point. Yet Tim also pointed out that this is no longer a costume and perhaps that’s my problem with it. The X-Men can wear more street-style outfits. They’re basically counter-terrorists and they’re trying to prove themselves as not being that different from humanity, so that look makes sense to me. Animal Man gets away with a leather jacket. He sees himself not as a superhero but as a guy who happens to have powers and he’s a pretty grounded character. But Wonder Woman is on the same level of Superman and Batman to me, someone who’s above us and meant to inspire us. So I kind of want her to be in a costume or something that doesn’t look like you could grab it on Fifth Avenue.
I think the jacket is more decoration than anything else, it doesn’t look like it can really zip up in front. The shoulder pads aren’t bad, the more I look at them. They give her a military touch. The belt, I rather like, but I wish it didn’t have that star on the back because when I showed this issue to a few girls, several of them asked “is that a tramp stamp?” That’s an easy fix, though. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about the choker
The shirt looks good, but I don’t like the excess lines and I’d prefer if the WW was a bit larger. I realize part of this is that Diana isn’t supposed to stand out as much, but let’s face it, a woman wearing this is going to stand out so at that point why not just embrace it and have a larger symbol or chest guard? Also, Diana is an inspirational figure and this look strongly says “cynicism.”
I’m not against Wonder Woman wearing pants but I don’t like these pants. They’re not sexy or visually appealing to me, they just seem to be drab leggings with soles on the bottom. I keep wishing there were a couple of stars down the side or that she had actual boots beneath the knees. Or maybe if they were a dark blue. Hey, if you insist on making this look as if it’s “off the rack,” I’d be fine with Diana wearing dark, red leather boots similar to what she wore in “For Tomorrow.” Maybe a pair of star-spangled skinny jeans like the new Wonder Girl. These black leggings, added with the weird early 90′s style jacket that doesn’t quite fit, makes me thing that Diana’s going to start singing “Jenny from the Block” at any moment.
The tiara is a very nice touch. Its shape is now a “W” but it’s not overt. Very cool. But the bracelets becoming gauntlets… yeah, I don’t like it really. They don’t ruin outfit, but I just prefer the silver bracelets.
However, I’m not saying that I hate this costume. Although I don’t care for it as a full-on redesign, that’s not it’s purpose right now. It’s meant to reflect Diana in this new, altered reality and it actually does that, even without the changes I’ve suggested. If this lasts more than two years though, I may not have the same opinion. Like Phil said, it’s comics. Let’s have a little fun with design.
That wraps it up for us folks. I hope you enjoyed this look at Diana throughout the ages. And hey, for your pleasure, here is a video I did some months back where I asked several celebrities whether or not Wonder Woman should wear pants.
CONVENTION ALERT: If you are going to be at this year’s Shore Leave convention in Baltimore, Maryland next weekend, you can find me walking around and speaking on no less than four panels concerning comic book adaptations and Doctor Who. So feel free to come up and say hi! Updates can be found at my Twitter feed: @SizzlerKistler. This is Alan Kistler, Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., signing off.
Alan Kistler writes the comic book history/fashion column Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. He is an actor and freelance writer living in New York who has been recognized by Warner Bros. Films and major media/news outlets as a comic book historian. He is also the creator/host of the web-show “Crazy Sexy Geeks: The Series.” He knows entirely too much about the history of comics, Star Trek, Doctor Who, time travel, and vampires that don’t sparkle.