Comics

Wonder Woman's Dated New Duds, or: Desperately Seeking Zeus-an

Wonder Woman's new outfit, with pants and leather jacket

Wonder Woman has a new look. No, really -- this is Wonder Woman. DC Comics hide caption

itoggle caption DC Comics

Last night, the New York Times and the DC Comics Source blog — followed swiftly by every comics news site ever – announced that the new creative team on Wonder Woman would change her history, and her look.

Starting with Wonder Woman #600 (that numbering's a bit of a shell game, but let's move on), readers will learn that the gods who granted Diana her powers have mucked around with the timestream, changing her origin. (And destroying Paradise Island for what must be, by my conservative estimate, the kabillionth time.)

In other words: Reboot! T'was ever thus, in superhero circles.

Only this time, they've literally re-booted her: Gone are her signature chunky red villain-stompers, replaced by ... yellow straps of some kind. Over ... leggings?

And then there's the jacket. Merciful Zeus, the jacket.


The NYT article features artist and DC Comics muckity-muck Jim Lee describing his reasoning behind the new look:

"Ultimately, he wanted her to look strong "without screaming, 'I'm a superhero.'"

Wow, there are ... just so many things I disagree with, in that one, tiny sentence.

I mean, look at the jacket: It's "midnight blue," it's got some stars on it, and she scrunches it up her arms like a 90s standup comic who's got a few observations about those packets of peanuts they give you on airplanes. What is the DEAL with those?

Don't get me wrong: I'm by no means the outraged fanboy that Lee says he anticipates hearing from, in the NYT article — the one demanding to know why he covered Wonder Woman's legs. My position on Supergirl's mini-skirt (briefly: It's stupid, because SHE FLIES) is a matter of record. (The Internet seems to have eaten most of that particular post, but trust me on this.)

Change is good. In the often ossified world of superheroes, it's great. Certainly Diana could do with a makeover, as fighting villainy in a star-spangled swimsuit is, on the face of it, kind of a goofy proposition, Mark Spitz excepted.  

So: Yay, Wonder-pants.  I'm all for 'em.  

Yay, too, to the new top, which has an athletic Underarmor vibe, and seems like it'll do a better job keeping her dirty pillows from flying all over Demeter's green acre whenever she raises her arms over her head to lasso a bad guy.

Not loving the Into the Groove gauntlet-things, but they're not a deal-breaker.  
Back to the jacket: Sigh. Long ago, in the benighted (EXTREEEME!) '90s, DC superheroes and leather jackets went together like Sean Penn and Madonna before Shanghai Surprise. They were the Tamogachis of the spandex set.    

C-lister The Ray had one (a double-breasted one! With a collar!); so did Superboy. Starman wore one too, though it worked on him, as he didn't really have a costume. It was more an ensemble, if anything involving a Hawaiian shirt could be fairly described as an ensemble.

Wonder Woman herself wore a leather half-jacket, briefly. Also, bike shorts and leather gloves. It didn't last, though, for three reasons:

1.    As silly looking and impractical-for-hand-to-hand combat as it may be, Wonder Woman's bicentennial bathing suit remains her iconic look. Face it: Lynda Carter throws a long, improbably curvaceous shadow into history.
2.    DC has too many licensing/merchandising deals wrapped up in the stars-and-stripes look.
3.    That '90s outfit didn't say "superhero," it said "roller derby." They're closely related, granted, and equally bad-ass, but they are distinct from one another.

The fact that it didn't last is, of course, the point here. Nothing really changes for good in superhero comics. Writers pick up a superhero, play with it for a time, and put it back in the toy box when they're done. So this new creative team will explore this alternate timeline, this bejacketed Diana, adding some things that will accrete to the character for good, and many, many things that will vanish when a new writer steps in.

This new run could be good, it could be bad, but one thing it will certainly be is finite. I greatly enjoyed writer Gail Simone's take on the character, and Greg Rucka's a bit before her. She's a tough character to write, this "warrior for peace." So I'll check out J. Michael Straczynski's run, even if, every time I see the jacket, I half-expect her to pound a jukebox and say, "Sit on it, Ares, God of War! Ayyyyyyy!"

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