Over three years ago DC Comics announced aesthetic changes to all of their top characters leading up to the release of the New 52. The alterations were largely subtle such as Flash receiving a more streamlined look, while Superman and Batman decided to behave like grown-ups and start wearing their underpants under their pants. A decidedly conservative move, but wigs were flipped regardless. Enter DC’s recent announcement, trotting out complete costume overhauls for six of their most popular heroes.
The changes are far more extensive than Jim Lee’s recent redesigns, and are bound to controversial. Given how rarely such massive changes happen in the traditionalist comic book industry, now seems like the perfect time for a Uni-Watch style rundown of each change. All grades are final.
The Changes: Hal Jordan trades in his standard Corps uniform for what appears to be a green and black hooded coat. He also looks to have repurposed Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet, something I’m sure will raise his insurance premiums. It’s difficult to see much else, but I’m eager to know if he’s retained his conventional uniform under the jacket, or has simply gone full-on Guy Gardner and is now wearing something along the line of street clothes.
The Grade: Given the smaller, portrait sized portion, there isn’t much to go on, but if Jordan is now equipped as something of a crossover between Gardner and Simon Baz, we may very well be onto something. I’ve always appreciated the idea of the straight uniform for the Green Lanterns; it gives them a united appearance that truly lends itself to the idea of the Lanterns being space police. However, with 3,600 sectors, and at least 2 rings a sector, that gets repetitive fast. It’s appreciated when you have your Gardners, Jack T. Chances, and Graf Torens of the universe who make the standard uniform their own. Let’s hope that’s what DC has in mind. B+
The Changes: By far the least revolutionary change of everything here, as most of the alterations center on variances of color more than anything else. Flash keeps his traditional red body, yellow boots, but darker shades of red around his limbs are employed to give the character a more dynamic feel. Probably wise considering all the running he does. The texturing is different on these darker, bloodier areas too, presumably for added punch. The old easily missed colorless bolt stripes from Lee’s New 52 design give way to a more pronounced, yet sleek, lightning motif, covering Barry Allen from head down. There are also some refinements to his boots (they appear to be sleeker, and come all the way up to his knees) and his earpieces.
The Grade: While I’ve always liked the Flash’s uniform, I’ve often felt the biggest issue standing between Allen and a trip to the big screen was his costume. It looks great on the page, but if you project the red suit onto a wall in a theater, it’d be hard to take anyone wearing it seriously. That’s a whole lot of red, and not much else. By throwing in some maroon, and sectioning off parts of his uniform with the lightning bolts, it’s now a little easier for me to picture Flash in a live action film. While I don’t endorse every case of publishers de-comicbooking characters for a national audience, I don’t think this is a step back for the Scarlet Speedster. B
The Changes: Oliver Queen sheds his ultra-modern gear for something comparatively simpler. At the risk of coming off as an ignorant pale-face here, Green Arrow’s latest aesthetic endeavor seems to draw heavily off Native American inspirations. He now sports mukluk-ish boots, and an archer’s armguard (with Native American patterns) that –unlike the old costume- actually guards the proper side of his arm. Hardcore GA fans who miss his classic Robin Hood costume and facial hair will still likely not be content with the change, but he does appear to be growing out his mop. Call it even?
The Grade: This is probably my favorite change. I’m a fan simple, ergonomic designs, and compared to his last costume, and GA wins out by that measure. Those boots just look comfortable, am I right? I am a little concerned how his quiver is set up for a lefty, and Ollie appears to be a righty in this image, but I’m sure it’s fine. What could go wrong? A
The Changes: The picture pretty much speaks for itself on this one. Batman will don a new armored batsuit once Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo resume the ongoing series following DC’s massive Convergence event. It’s hard to tell from the back, but it may be safe to assume Capullo spent a little too much time watching reruns of The Tick this winter.
The Grade: File this one away under “Probably Not Going to Matter Six Months From Now.” Scott Snyder routinely talks about his mission to make every Batman story bigger than the one that came before, and if the suit is any indication, the trend will continue this summer. How do you top the Joker’s vicious plan in Endgame? Well, RoboBat, apparently. Now one could argue that the random addition of robots may be a sign that Snyder is running out of ideas. It’s a solid point, but until Bruce Wayne whips out the Shark Repellant Bat-Spray allowing the Fonz to then jump over said shark, we ought to be good. It looks like the move is just for arc, and not anything permanent, which is good, because under the current art team Batman never looked better. Incomplete – See me after class
The Changes: Between the spaulders, thigh-high boots and divine bracelets that now hold massive spikes (?!), Wonder Woman looks like a new…woman. The biggest change, however, is the lack of skin she’s displaying. Her breasts continue to be the size of her head, though. Still, progress!
The Grade: Traditionalists will not want to hear this, but this redesign -more than any other on this list- is most definitely a good thing. When I posted a review of Brian Azzarello’s first two volumes of Wonder Woman last year, I discussed how DC completely botched the New 52 as an opportunity to make WW look more like a warrior and less like a post World War II object. Granted, this new costume isn’t nearly as awesome as the “Divine Armor” featured in Azzarello’s story, but the new hotness is certainly better than the old busted. After unveiling Gal Gadot’s gear for Batman vs. Superman a while back, it’s obvious DC had some retooling to do in order to get the general public to take Diana Prince seriously. This is a positive step in that direction. Now if they could only do something about those boots. B
The Changes: Supes ditches his conventional House of El New 52 armor for street clothes. Jeans, black boots, and a shirt with a Superman logo now reign supreme in Clark Kent’s closet. Oh, and cloth over his knuckles to suck up all the blood, obviously.
The Grade: Remember the look Kal El featured in the first few stories in the Action Comics New 52 launch? Remember how it was pretty much the only good thing about Grant “This gun shoots psychic bullets” Morrison’s Action Comics run? Well it’s back, and rather than stop at the good part, DC opted to take things a bit further. Notice the black tint in his S logo? Combined with those knuckles? This is one hardcore Krypt-bro-nian we’re dealing with. Although subtle, the changes bring up serious questions about Superman’s character going forward. Is he still a shining light for all of humanity? Or will he hit up dollar shot night rather than save the world from Lex Luthor? I bet the shirt has an Ed Hardy tag on it. D