Thursday, July 01, 2010

DC's new direction—Pants!

This past February, DC Entertainment announced their new executive team, ending months of speculation by comics industry watchers. Four months later, exactly how the new team will ultimately shape the publisher's line of comics remains to be seen, but one pattern is clearly emerging.

Martian Manhunter's traditional look:

Martian Manhunter gets a new costume in May's Blackest Night #8, refined in Brightest Day until it looked like this:

The original Aqualad costume:

DC announces the new Aqualad on June 11:

Wonder Woman's traditional look:

DC unveils's Wonder Woman's new costume on June 29:


Ryan S. said...

Its a bold new era for the 75th anniversary. I actually like the pants direction, if not all the costume designs. If it keeps one person from asking me "why doesn't s/he have pants?" when they look at the comics on my coffee table, I cannot complain.

Lazarus Lupin said...

If only disney would go the pants direction, then Donald Duck wouldn't feel a breeze. Seriously though, I am generally in favor of heroes with a bit less flesh showing. I know that artists tend to lead a sheltered life but no female barbarian should be wearing a chainmail bikini, and it's high time that wonder woman no longer has to fear falling out of her top or whether her legs have been recently shaved or not.

Lazarus Lupin
arts and reviews

J. L. Bell said...

And once again, Tim Drake was thinking well ahead of everyone else.

Scott said...

Seems to be adding pants to everyone makes them more viable as Hollywood films. Tough to pull off the underwear look …

karterhol said...

I guess I'm in the minority, but I happen to be real happy with the addition of pants in all these cases.

I know it's silly to think it makes them more realistic, especially when we're dealing with immortal Amazons and shape shifting Martians. But I DO actually dig them. And they seem to make some sense. (Personally, I'd make sure I was wearing something more than a Speedo or lingerie if I was going to take on Dr. Light or Cheetah)

When I was a kid, I always hated Garth's uniform-- even though I was a huge fan of the Titans. I think Aqualad's new uniform is pretty great (despite the lame tattoo). And I'm always happy to see DC add some color to their overly white cast of characters.

I think J'onn's uniform is basically terrific. It's a subtle change that makes him far less embarrassing in the 21st Century.

I think the jacket for Wonder Woman is lame and hope they lose it. And I'd like to see her add some boots (as opposed to the 90's-style leggings).

I do think Diana's uniform has ALWAYS been stupid. I especially loathe the way certain artists make her a pin-up girl with her ass cheeks hanging out like she was poolside at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas.

She is beautiful, yes. Idealized, yes. But to sexualize her demeans her and reduces her to something less than Superman or Batman (who never get the beefcake/man-meat treatment. That's apparently Dick Grayson's department).

Diana is NOT Starfire or even Black Canary. She's not supposed to be a porn star. And quite frankly, her uniform has not helped her shake this stigma. Even Alex Ross had to create a golden suit of armor to make her look like she belonged in the field of battle.

We've accepted her absurd get-up due to nostalgia. But it makes no sense, doesn't reflect her character or her history and is too stripper-y for someone who is supposed to be a regal ambassador from an enlightened culture of immortals.

I think we should all admit that Diana's been in desperate need for an update for decades. I don't think this is the perfect one. But it's a good starting place and it can evolve into something potentially very cool.

Obviously, all of this is being done to make her less "weird" and more marketable to a wider, younger demographic as DC Entertainment tries to follow the Marvel mold into the multi-media/TV/movie platform.

But in this case, that kind of "corporate re-branding" and "synergy" (two terms that are revolting in every sense of the word) may actually help an under-used, under-appreciated female icon.

Those are just my two cents.

Or twelve...

The Missing Man said...

There's nothing about the new costume that promises Wonder Woman's top won't fall out. Only the Comics Code Authority has that power.

Joch said...

Not just pants... Dark, and for all intents and purposes black, pants.

They should that to all superheroes. Supeman with black pants! Flash with black pants! Superbly with... Well, he can just switch jeans. Heck starfire could also use some black pants. Maybe black canary could start using her black pants costume again.

Chris Mautner said...

There's a "pants on the ground" joke just waiting to be made here, but I shall refrain from making it myself.

John Foley said...

J'onn J'onzz needed those pants. The "circus strongman with a cape" look was always way too silly for such a dignified character.

Peter Bangs said...

Karterhol. If you haven't already, check out Wondfer Woman in New Frontier to see how well her traditional outift can work. Darwyn Cooke makes her a force to be reckoned with rather than a piece of cheese cake. Shame he didn't take on her book instead of JMS

LiamKav said...

Cooke has a specific cartoonty style that stops WW's costume from being too ridiculous. The same thing happened with the Bruce Timm designs in the Justice League cartoon. As long as you had her as a cartoon character, it was fine. The closer the art style turned towards "realism", the more stupid the costume looked.

"Batman (who never get the beefcake/man-meat treatment..."

Shirtless sword-fighting Apparo Batman would dare to disagree.

karterhol said...

@ Peter Bangs: Funny you mention New Frontier-- it's my favorite mini-series ever. And yes, Cooke's treatment of both Diana and the Amazons are some of the best ever.

I actually REALLY liked the Donna Troy version of the WW uniform (from the first issue of the re-boot) with the armor, capes and shield. I was really hoping that was going to be the new look when it came out. But, alas...

Anyway, I hope that this costume grows. The stupidest element of it (the jacket) is made even stupider by the comments in the press by DC. She can wear it to "blend in?" Really? With the shoulder pads and stars?

And why should the most iconic female hero in comics be redesigned to "blend in?" She needs to "stand out" like Bats and Supes.

Fingers crossed...

karterhol said...

@LiamKav: I get your point and would totally agree with you if Batman weren't wearing pants (just, say, his blue Speedos).

And I'd really agree with you if he were drawn standing around with his ass and junk posed in the same cheesy, overtly sexualized pin up style that too many DC artists draw Diana.

Making her a pin up is not in character for her at all. It's totally different to do that with Starfire (who was created as a character from a sexually free planet).

Aparo was drawing Bats as the ultimate Alpha male-- which is unquestionably empowering (especially to young boys).

DC artists, more often than not, draw WW as a Victoria's Secret model.

That's objectification and not empowering. Especially to female readers.

Kid Kyoto said...

Yes DC comics are certainly pants.

LiamKav said...

Oh, I agree that there's a difference between how both sexes are treated. I don't buy the "well, MEN don't look like Superman so it's just the same and not sexist argument". As you say, men see shirtless sword fighting Batman and say "He's awesome! I want to be him!". Women see Wonder Woman and might say "hey, if my ass and legs looked that fine, I would show them off all the time." However, most would say "I would not be running around in my underwear all the time if I could help it."

For some reason however, I've always thought flying superheroines in leotards or similar (like WW) are somehow less embarrasing than flying superheroines in skirts. I guess it's the difference between a swimming costume and a miniskirt. Although you are showing more in the former than the latter, it has more dignity.

Anonymous said...


Wanted to give you a hollaback. I'm a bit surprised you haven't commented more on the Wonder Woman revamp. I'd like to know where you come down on the issue.

Here's where I do:

I've been blogging for three years now and this is going to be my most popular and commented on post ever. I just can't figure out WHY?

Caleb said...

I actually like the pants direction, if not all the costume designs.

I like J'onn''s a thosuand times better than the full black bodysuit he had on between the last two Crises. I like Aqualad's okay. Wonder Woman's is kind of unimportant,'s like getting worked up over Electric Superman.

Seems to be adding pants to everyone makes them more viable as Hollywood films.

I'd be shocked if Wonder Woman made it to the big screen without star-spangled'd be like a cape-less Superman movie. I can see some sort of star-war-skirt over shorts work as a live-action compromise, but I'm assuming producers will insist on stars in the vicinity of Wonder Woman's butt if and when they ever get around to a movie.

Wanted to give you a hollaback. I'm a bit surprised you haven't commented more on the Wonder Woman revamp. I'd like to know where you come down on the issue.

Hey Jeff. I talked about it at much greater length on Blog@Newsarama, although the post may have gotten lost in all the Wonder Woman-talking-about shuffle (probably didn't help that I gave it a lame-o headline).

Here's a link:

Ryan S. said...

"Wonder Woman's is kind of unimportant,'s like getting worked up over Electric Superman."

Exactly. I'm shocked that hasn't been the common reaction.

It is funny how well the publicity stunt worked for DC, in a way. I found myself being asked about the outfit by my 60+ father and father-in-law during 4th of July festivities today. I can report that it was agreed by all that Lynda Carter is pretty great.