Everyone’s talking about the DCnU. If you don’t know about it (and really, where have you been?), here’s the deal: In a few months, DC is relaunching (not “rebooting”) it’s universe with 52 new titles hitting the shelves. Some characters are getting a modernized origin. Others are getting new costumes. We all have questions and very few answers at this time. But we do have some new designs to look at and discuss.
Now, keep in mind, I have not gone to the future and read these new titles coming out. So I don’t know if some of these costumes that are drastically different will be perfect for the new version of the character coming out. I can only judge these based on gut reaction and my familiarity with how the character has been presented in the past. I’m also only selecting a few of the DCnU titles to look over, otherwise we’ll be here all day.
So let’s start the action.
Here we have some of the old school flavor. Carter Hall, archaeologist, who became Hawkman with help from anti-gravity Nth metal and a cool wing harness. He also enjoys maces, katar blades, spikey gloves. Anything that would have TSA tackle you to the ground.
Wow, DCnU Carter is angry. Now, initially this seems a bit much to me. But the title is Savage Hawkman now and this look definitely carries that. We’ve been told for years that Carter is a fearsome warrior you have to sometimes hold back from tearing his enemies apart (which makes it odd to me that he was able to be leader of the Justice Society for so long, but that’s another discussion). Now he actually looks as fearsome and bloodthirsty as everyone says he is. Even the handle of his weapon is designed to mess you up. Interesting.
Oliver Queen is a rich playboy who later wound up on a deserted island and learned new tricks to survive, honing a natural talent so much that he became among the world’s greatest archers. He’s had a few looks over the years, all of which resemble Robin Hood in some way.
DCnU Ollie Queen has evidently decided to steal some fashion tips from his Smallville TV counterpart. And I’m okay with that. He’s still recognizably the Green Arrow, he just looks more modern and more sleek than I’ve really ever seen him be in comics before. Added gear to the belts, padded gloves, cool new bracers and boots with knee pads. This guy’s prepared. Dig it.
The original OMAC (One Man Army Corps) is one of those designs that definitely comes off as dated, even if you love artist/creator Jack Kirby. A guy in a mohawk with a funky jumpsuit. Just under ten years ago, it was re-interpreted as blue, glowy people with a mohawk shape to their heads.
Now the look we have here… well that is just weird and alien looking. And I’m okay with that. It keeps the Kirby flavor while tweaking it to seem like something that exists in a time or place we haven’t been to yet. My only concern is that this look may be one of those that is completely made or broken by the artist. We’ll have to wait and see.
BIRDS OF PREY
Okay, from the Birds of Prey cover we’ve seen, I’m going to focus solely on Black Canary and Poison Ivy (assuming that this is Poison Ivy and not a newly re-imagined version of Thorn). Above, you can see some looks that Dinah Lance has worn as the Black Canary. With the exception of a couple of short-lived outfits, she’s been known for a leather jacket, fishnets, and sometimes impractical footwear.
Poison Ivy has had a few designs over the years, but they’ve all been pretty similar with the biggest change being her skin tone going from Caucasian to green. She’s a woman who uses pheromones, poisons and her natural sensuality to get people to do what she wants while never actually giving them what they want. She’s the kind of lady who makes you think about sex and power immediately when she walks into a room.
Now here they are on the cover of the upcoming Birds of Prey #1. Poison Ivy doesn’t look terribly sexy or powerful to me now. In fact, she looks pretty bland. Black bodysuit with leaves drawn on it. It seems like a lazy attempt to portray her at a convention or costume party.
Black Canary, I see what the idea is here and I can respect it. But for me personally, this doesn’t quite work. The shoulder pads and fishnets on the arm are just a little too much and make things seem very busy. And where did the boots go? Dinah’s worn heels and she’s worn heavy leather boots. I preferred the latter. But here, are those just sandals? It seems out of place with the rest of the outfit.
Nightwing is Dick Grayson. He began his heroic career as the original Robin and then, soon after entering and dropping out of college, he decided to change some things about his life. Taking a name from Kryptonian mythology, he began calling himself Nightwing. He’s had a lot of costumes over the years, most notably a black body suit with a blue chevron style design on his chest.
Recently, Dick Grayson has been operating as Batman in Gotham City. But in the DCnU, he’s returning to his Nightwing identity, making a few tweaks along the way. This actually looks very much like the Robin costume that was used in the live-action film Batman and Robin, minus the cape. I think it works quite nicely. The scallops on the bracers nod back to Batman and the red is a nice callback to his original identity.
The cartoons have often altered Nightwing’s costume to have more of a bird design and I think that it looks better then merely a large blue V on the chest. I realize the V was supposed to imply a wingspan, but this is just stronger. It references Robin without actually regressing the character. The only thing I’m not keen on is the eyes. Red eyes make him look quite fearsome. That’s cool, but Dick Grayon is a much more light-hearted character than Bruce. Less “demon of the night” more “costumed crusader.” Just my thoughts.
The new version of the Teen Titans is going to include some new characters. And there might be members we’re not aware of. For this, I’m going to focus on Wonder Girl II (Cassie Sandsmark), Superboy (Conner Kent), Red Robin (Tim Drake, the third Robin) and Kid Flash II (formerly Impulse). All have had a variety of outfits, especially Cassie and Tim.
Concerning the relaunch design, I’m of mixed emotions here. My initial reaction is “this looks like a 1990s comic from Image.” But then again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing and some folks are fond of 1990s fashion as I am of 1940s fashion. So let’s push that aside. Kid Flash looks very busy to me. But this is a kinetic character and this look may grow on me depending on the character wearing the outfit. Plus, there are reports that this is not the final costume he will be wearing for the new status quo so it could be that he gets a new costume in issue #2 that will be more pleasing to my eyes.
There are also reports that the look on this cover will not be Superboy’s new, standard look and I certainly hope not. I’m okay with non-costumey costumes for superheroes, depending who they are. The previous T-shirt and jeans outfit was pushing it but it fit Conner. This, though? He doesn’t look like a superhero at all, he seems like a Abercrombie and Fitch model who messed up a Superman tattoo on his shoulder. What kind of diamond-tipped drill was used to give a Kryptonian a bar code tattoo? Or are we back to tactile telekinesis where he can still be hurt and cut more easily under the right circumstances? Or maybe he’s a robot in this new reality and that’s a stamp. Maybe he’s just a model who hangs out with the Teen Titans. No clue.
Wonder Girl looks like she stole Speedy or Arrowette’s wardrobe. Seriously, I thought it was Speedy or Magdalena with the Witchblade as a whip. I liked that Wonder Girl was rocking her own style while sporting the familiar decorations of Diana. Now she looks a bit closer to Donna Troy, the original Wonder Girl look. Which I would understand except that Donna’s starry costume was a mark that she was no longer under Diana’s shadow and was adopting her own style. So now Wonder Girl is imitating that by stepping out of Diana’s shadow and more into Donna’s shadow? And a barbed wire lasso? So wait, she won’t be able to use this weapon without bloodshed? This is a very different character indeed. And I’m not sure I’m looking forward to what’s in store with her.
Red Robin. The more I look at this new outfit, the more I’m okay with it. Tim’s previous Red Robin look seemed a bit too similar to Dr. Mid-Nite. That problem is gone now. And while the mask reminds us of his Robin roots, the rest of the design is very different. He’s his own man now, not a sidekick and not an older version of Damian Wayne.
Batman’s younger partner was initially modeled after Robin Hood. This new Red Robin clearly owes more to the bird of the same name. And Tim’s always been a tech savvy guy, making sure his costume was utilitarian, such as turning his chest symbol into a throwing blade. So the glider wings (with added rockets for mini-bursts of flight) make some sense to me. The other costumes all give me pause, but this outfit I can work with. And if he teams up with Nightwing and Robin in the future, it’ll make him stand out that much more.
And that wraps it up for Part 1, folks. Rest assured, we will discuss certain Amazon and Kryptonian characters in Part 2. 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 a creator/host of the web-show and podcast “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. You can find him on Twitter: @SizzlerKistler