Last week, we checked out several of the designs that will be featured in DC’s relaunched universe, the DCnU. Although DC is now telling us that most of its previous history will be intact, the previews show that several of these characters are definitely getting new origins and altered pasts and nearly all of them are getting new outfits. Confusion aside, let’s check out the new fashion styles of some of these characters.
In the 1940s, Terry Sloan was a prodigy and a polymath who decided to use his various skills to help others. As a costumed crime-fighter, he not only took down villains but also attempted to serve as a role model for people, advocating high standards of morality and “fair play.” Many decades later, Michael Holt, a genius and skilled combatant, followed Terry’s example and became the new Mr. Terrific. Along with his own skills, Holt relies on special technology he’s developed, such as his flying “T-Spheres” that can access databanks, act as communicators and project holograms.
Okay, is there a rule in the DCnU that you’re not cool unless you have red eyes? It seems to be happening with a lot of folks. I like that Michael Holt will still be with us in the DCnU. And, truth be told, this costume isn’t all that different. But I miss the jacket. Although Michael does take the concept of “fair play” seriously enough to get a tattoo, I’m never a fan of a design that involves bare arms but has gloves. And not crazy but the little changes they made to the mask, I dug how it looked before.
Firestorm has had a long and complicated history. It began with college student Ronnie Raymond and Professor Martin Stein getting caught in a nuclear blast that fused them into a superhero who could manipulate inorganic matter. Ronnie was the dominant personality, while Stein was a voice in his head offering guidance and aid, and the kid decided to become a new superhero: Firestorm, the Nuclear Man. Over the years, things got different and a bit weird. Ronnie became a normal person again and Martin Stein became a new elemental, still using the name Firestorm. Later, Ronnie got his powers back, but then was killed in battle. His energies transferred to Jason Rusch, who became the new Firestorm and, after several months, began fusing with Prof. Stein just like Ronnie had in the past. Then things changed a few more times and, last we saw, Ronnie was back from the dead and fused with Jason to become Firestorm, but somehow this arrangement was now threatening to kill them (and possibly others) in the process.
It seems that Firestorm is starting from scratch in the DCnU. The preview for the new Firestorm #1 says that Ronnie and Jason are classmates, whereas before they were several years apart in age (Jason being in high school years after Ronnie had left college). It also seems that each one can become an individual form of Firestorm and then they may be able to merge into a more powerful gestalt hero later. We can’t be sure until the issue really comes out, so it’s tough to judge. Each of these designs is nice, but I think I would’ve left Ronnie with the loose sleeves and given Jason a sleeker look. Just to show a larger difference in attitude.
Originally, Supergirl was Kara Zor-El, cousin of Kal-El AKA Superman, who arrived on Earth as a teenager after the hero from Smallville was already grown up. After the story Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC decided to make Superman the only survivor of Krypton and so Kara was erased from history. Other Supergirls appeared, but eventually DC decided to bring Kara back in all her glory. Supergirl has worn many, many outfits over the years, most of them involving a skirt.
And here we have Supergirl DCnU. Right off the bat, the reverse knee-pads are weird to me. Some people have tried to justify them to me. I don’t care for them. But they alone don’t make or break the outfit and I like the boots extending to her thighs, so moving on. The cape collar I’m still debating on. It’s hard to tell from this cover. I do like that it helps give her a different aesthetic from her famous cousin.
The red patch on the crotch? No. Know why? Because it’s a red patch on the crotch. Have shorts or don’t have shorts, have a skirt or don’t have a skirt, but just having a red diamond highlighting her crotch? And worse, with that diamond-shaped belt buckle (which seems pointless since she’s missing a belt), the red patch becomes the shape of a heart. On her crotch. Yeah.
There is an energy field called the Speed Force. Over the years, a few people have been able to access its energies, either through scientific methods or accidental mutation. These people can move at incredible speeds without starving to death in the process and some can even control their own molecular frequency, allowing them to travel to other times and dimensions. Jay Garrick was the first speedster to call himself the Flash. Decades later, Barry Allen followed his example and wore the costume that has become most famously associated with the name. His protege Wally West acted as a third Flash for a while. And there have been others.
Here, we have Barry Allen, ready as always to race for justice. And in this case, DC knew that you shouldn’t mess with a classic. I mean, this is almost the same costume. The cowl is a bit different and a few thin lines have been added. The lines nicely imply lightning bolts but I wonder about cluttering up the costume too much. If this were a live-action film costume, I’d be just fine with this. In a comic book, I see no reason to really add them. Flash is a speedster and should look as sleek as possible. But they’re not that big a deal either, so I won’t say the costume is ruined.
Dr. Harleen Quinzel was a psychologist at Arkham Asylum and decided that she would make her mark by truly getting inside the head of the Joker. But it worked the other way around. The Clown Prince of Killers was amused by how the doctor’s name could be altered into “Harley Quinn” and spent several months twisting and corrupting her. Eventually, she joined him on his adventures, wearing a jester’s outfit and proving that you can be sexy while completely covered from head to toe. In the video games, she’s gotten some different outfits, but the suit she wore in the animated series that introduced her has always stood out. So what’s she like in the DCnU?
… You’re kidding, right? Right? Wasn’t there a new rule that women have to dress more conservatively in the DCnU? You kept Wonder Woman in trousers and de-sexified Black Canary and Poison Ivy (of all people), but you give Harley… THIS?! I’m not sure she’s even got shorts on, it looks like just another belt beneath her main belt.
I just… It’s so lazy. And how is she going to do acrobatics? Can she even briskly walk without falling out?
No, no, no, I’m sorry. The hair is cool, but you’ve taken away everything that said this character embraced her own zaniness. The collar and mini-cape don’t cut it. Next.
Some people have recently complained that Wonder Woman is a tough sell because she’s “complicated.” These people are wrong. Watch this.
For centuries, the Amazons have lived on a Paradise Island, kept ageless and hidden from “Patriarch’s World” by the magic of the goddesses of Olympus. When Queen Hyppolyta longed for a child, the goddesses breathed life into a baby she had molded from sand and clay, a daughter named Diana who was given beauty, speed, wisdom, strength, flight, and a connection to animals. As an adult, Diana has left her home, acting as an ambassador to a larger world and as a warrior ready to defend her planet from those who wold prey upon it.
Three sentences. Done. Anyway, Wonder Woman’s had a lot of outfits over the years, but many of them spring from the same basic color scheme and motif. But what about her new interpretation?
Not gonna lie. I prefer Diana rocking the bare legs. She’s a warrior who is also proud of her femininity and her skin is tough and dense enough that she usually doesn’t need armor, so it’s not like trousers are necessary for protection. Personally, my favorite outfits for her are either the skirt or the leather skirt she wore in New Frontier and “Hypothetical Woman.” And I’m happy with the shorts as long as they’re not drawn like a thong. But these trousers just seem a bit boring to me.
Although I like the cut of the new top, the silver doesn’t work for me as well as the gold did, which complemented the red and blue very nicely. The trousers and boots are also way too dark. This is a bright, optimistic character. She’s tough and she can be hard, but like Superman, she is more about inspiring others around her than she is about simply giving out punishment. By making the boots the same color, they also now blend in so much that there’s no real design to them. They might as well just be normal leather boots any of us can find in a shop. And why are the stars so muted?
This whole costume seems like an attempt to make Wonder Woman seem less of a superhero and more akin to someone who could be walking down the street in the real world. Another attempt to make a character more “realistic.” And you know what? This isn’t the real world. It’s not even a live-action TV show. It’s comics. She lives in a world with Kryptonians, gods of Olympus, Atlantean kings, and alien starfish that can possess your brain. Embrace it. Let’s see some color and flash. Don’t apologize to us that she has great legs or can kick your ass while wearing a skirt. Just my thoughts.
You should really know who Superman is by now. Last son of the dead planet Krypton. Raised on a farm in Kansas. Moved to Metropolis. Dedicated to using his alien abilities to protect the planet that adopted him. He wears his family crest, a Kryptonian symbol of hope. And he’s had quite a few movies. And as for the DCnU’s interpretation of him…
I’m not a scientist, but why does a Kryptonian need armor?
And on top of that, why can’t this body armor be sleek? The many lines, the new clunky looking boots, it’s distracting and seems cumbersome. We’re moving away from the iconography of the character. What’s more, wearing armor implies that Superman looks for a fight and that’s anti-thetical to the character.
I’m not against changing the classic Superman suit or getting rid of the shorts, but this was not the droid I was looking for. I also find it a bit silly and repetitive to have the belt buckle be the same shape as his chest symbol, but I know that that’s a personal preference and not everyone agrees.
This other picture, from the cover of the new Action Comics #1, I’m not going to judge because I have no idea what the context is. It might just be a fun, weird cover that has nothing to do with the comic. It might be a signal that the story within will show a young Clark Kent in Kansas, operating in a make-shift costume he throws together before later designing his true uniform. Either way, Grant Morrison is writing and Rags Morales is drawing it, which means I will be there.
And that wraps it up, folks. Now we all just have to play the waiting game and see what this DCnU will truly bring us. Until next time, this is Alan Kistler, Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., signing off.
CONVENTION ALERT! I will be a guest at the Shore Leave Convention in Maryland. There, I will serve as Roastmaster at the Roast for Robert Greenberger. And I will be at San Diego Comic-Con, running about and enjoying the ambiance. So if you see me, come up and say hi!
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