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High Fashion: a Review of the Justice League’s New Costumes

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.

 

Green Lantern

Green Lantern Redesign

Green Lantern Redesign

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 Flash

Flash Redesign

Flash Redesign

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

 

Green Arrow

Green Arrow Redesign

Green Arrow Redesign

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

 

Batman

Batman Redesign

Batman Redesign

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

 

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Redesign

Wonder Woman Redesign

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

 

Superman

Superman Redesign

Superman Redesign

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

Norman Lee

A terrible tragedy and loss!

God rest, Norman Lee. You are a great man who will be dearly missed. You will also always be in our home and hearts. May your family find peace!

POLICE: Unfortunately we were unable to find or recover Mr. Lee

Posted By Kevin Watler
Saturday, 7 March 2015 10:13 pm

Searches for Norman Lee have been stood down. According to police, “The currents in that area are strong and it is unlikely that we will make any recovery at this stage.”

Police Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks said, “We put all assets available to us, both law enforcement and privately owned. We thank all those who assisted us in this time of need. Unfortunately we were unable to find or recover Mr. Lee.”

The 47-year-old male visitor is from Massachusetts, USA. He was snorkelling with his wife off the Reef Resort, East End and became separated approximately 250 yards off shore. “The spouse returned to shore, but her husband was not seen. A report was made for assistance and a search commenced,” said Mr. Ebanks.

Mr. Lee was wearing white beach shorts, clear goggles and black and blue fins. He was not wearing a shirt.

The Joint Marine Unit (Police, Customs and Immigration) responded with 2 vessels. Three vessels from the Department of Environment also responded. The Marine Enforcement Unit, Cayman Helicopter, and volunteer divers also joined the search. Other water sport operators in the area also assisted with wave runners.

At 3:00 p.m. yesterday (Friday, 6 March), following another full day of extensive searching, the marine commander, Inspector Yearwood, based on the weather conditions, length of time and the extent of the search, moved the search into a search and recovery.

At 6:00 p.m. the search was stood down from an active search, to calls of sightings of interest. Marine enforcement vessels remained in the area.

Operations were being staged from the Morritt’s Dive Shop. Some 12 volunteer divers have assisted the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. Searches carried out were led by the Joint Marine Unit

star wars party

Welcome Home Star Wars Party!

Mike will be hosting a pot luck get-together on Saturday, January 17th, from 11am to ??? (excessive question marks = fun party madness). The get-together will be part launch party for Marvel’s new Star Wars comics, part typical MCS shindig, and part Magic the Gathering tourney.

Everyone contributing the potluck is encouraged to bring food of “exotic flavor” (but let’s not get too crazy) as well as one treasured family heirloom to be laid at Mike’s feet upon arrival as tribute of fealty.

star wars party

TTE1

Review – Teen Titans: Earth One Vol. 1

Written by: Jeff Lemire                                                                                                     Pencils by: Terry Dodson                                                                                                  Inks by: Rachel Dodson & Cam Smith                                                                       Colors by: Brad Anderson & Terry Dodson                                                            Collects: Original Graphic Novel, $22.99 ($17.25 after MCS discount)

Though I’ve enjoyed every title under DC’s Earth One banner, none of the Superman or Batman stories really explored the “alternate universe” space. There are deviations from the canon DC Universe, but they’re slight. Superman is still super-manning and Batman is still taking on Gotham corruption, admittedly with less …tact.

GN cover by Terry Dodson

GN cover by Terry Dodson

With the release of the latest E1 series, Teen Titans: Earth One, the question many will have is, does the story deviate enough from the source material to justify the purchase?

The biggest changes readers will observe are to the team members themselves. Beast Boy, Cyborg, Jericho, Raven, Terra and a surprise guest make up the team, and they all play well (though not often with each other) over the course of the book.

While the graphic novel contains the familiar Teen Titans themes of searching for ones place in the world, and forging relationships amongst peers, Lemire makes significant changes to the Titans formula using the team itself. The youngsters are altered enough (in some cases very different) from their mainstream counterpart that most preconceptions you have of a given character will need to adapt. Their superpowers by-in-large function the same, but who they are and what motivates them is changed, which in turn affects how they connect with each other.

Their interpersonal struggles are set against the backdrop of conspiracy that somehow links every member of the Titans. As discoveries are made, bonds are fostered. The conspiracy is good too. There are hints here and there as to what’s going on, but Lemire plays a good hand, and tips it enough to make things consistently compelling. If the quality of the narrative ever started to dip, the curiosity inspired by a new universe with altered and compelling relationships between the Titans kept me moving, as they should.

Vic Stone transforms into Cyborg

Vic Stone transforms into Cyborg

This is my first experience with Terry Dodson’s pencils, and I came out pleased, but yearning for more. Dodson does a great job depicting the Titans themselves. This is a teen-oriented book and he approaches it as such: using clean, expressive lines to create a tight, simplistic experience. It can be too simplistic, however, as there’s a notable lack of background in many panels. I don’t mean just the occasional tree or rock that fades into the background, either. Too often there’s nothing to see except the characters themselves, and when there is scenery, it’s usually not very detailed. It could be argued Dodson did this on purpose, opting to draw the reader’s focus towards the character interactions, and I understand that, but I’m usually not the kind of reader that would notice something like this, which may say enough on its own.

Perhaps most off-putting is Dodson’s depiction of Slade Wilson in his Deathstroke uniform. It’s not awful, but it’s also not intimidating, which is kinda Slade’s thing. Between his fun-dad depiction earlier in the book, and his smirk-worthy battle attire, the Terminator’s edge is somewhat blunted. There are also times with the occasional limb would have an off-kilter shape to it. Small things like these take away from an otherwise refined aesthetic.

Dork-stroke

Dork-stroke

Any criticisms of Lemire’s writing I have are limited to the speed with which the GN reads, and the scope that it’s working with. DC appears to have a circa 150-page mandate for all the E1 books, as no comic in the imprint (both published and announced) contain more than 160 pages. This appears to hinder the story as Lemire alludes to big things in the book, but doesn’t seem to have quite enough space to address everything properly, affecting the story’s pacing. Presenting a number of interesting questions without the space to provide answers is an incredible bummer, primarily because of the rate the E1 installments are published (roughly one volume in a series every 18 months).

As someone who’s been holding out for a good Teen Titans tale for quite a while (Scott Lobdell’s work on the New 52 incarnation was an exercise of self-punishment), this comic definitely scratches an itch. Just keep in mind the poor page-to-price ratio, and the long wait for volume two.

BG1

Review – Batgirl #35

Written by: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher                                         Pencils & Inks by: Babs Tarr                                                                                            Colors by: Maris Wicks

With Mark Doyle moving from DC’s Vertigo imprint to serve as group editor of Batman related comics, much was made about the Bat-family adopting a fresher, more indie feel. New titles such as Arkham Manor and Gotham Academy are supposedly pillars of the new approach, as well as a new direction with Batgirl starting with issue #35. But does “new” and “indie” also mean good?

Batgirl #35 - Cover by Babs Tarr

Batgirl #35 – Cover by Babs Tarr

Gail Simone is no longer the mind behind the series, and with her goes the darker, long suffering Barbara Gordon. Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher are now writing, and immediately establish a decidedly lighter feel to Batgirl’s world.

The tone changes so much that depending upon who you are and what you’re relationship to Simone’s vision or traditional Batgirl storytelling will most likely determine how you feel about the new direction.

A new, youthful vibe echoes through the book, as Babs and her environs are now clearly geared toward an audience comprised of millennial girls rather than whatever it used to be (visual approximation). Babs moves into a new neighborhood in Gotham City, a spot called Burnside, and seemingly brings very little of her baggage with her. The change in her personality is stark, as she appears to instantly cure herself of her nagging PTSD. She’s now strictly a college girl who is low on funds, trying to make ends meat in the classroom and on the rooftops.

Issue 35 features a big shift in BG's personality.

Issue 35 features a big shift in BG’s personality.

Speaking of sudden contrasts, Burnside is a pretty jolting location given the general awfulness that tends to happen in Gotham. Apparently one short taxi ride will take you away from all those pesky masked murders and into a place so filled with hipsters you’d swear Brooklyn and Portland, OR, had a love child. Do you like you’re independent coffee shop to serve locally grown, Joker Toxin-free coffee beans?

Both Burnside and Gordon’s apartment are brought to life by artist Babs (not a type-o) Tarr. Her style reminds me of Chris Samnee, from Marvel’s current Daredevil series, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. She isn’t as artful as Samnee, and she prefers brighter colors, but she renders a world that is definitely worth exploring. There’s even a clever two-page layout by Tarr to demonstrate how Gordon uses her trademark didactic memory to find out who stole her laptop.

Perhaps the best example of the new Barbara Gordon comes when she has an alcohol-fueled hook-up in her new apartment. This is a clear departure from the old Batgirl, and just one of the ways the creators tilt their focus towards a new audience. The book is so chalk-full of new-girl-for-a-new-age instances that fans of the past series and older readers will be forced to either get with the program or (more likely) grumble in the corner.

Babs' costume has undergone a redesign

Babs’ costume has undergone a redesign.

Some Batgirl fans will undoubtedly feel cast aside by DC’s new approach to the series, and with good reason. This is a distinct departure from what came before. That said, this is a good comic, with a lot of fun between the pages. At it’s best Batgirl #35 reads like a cross of Mark Waid’s Daredevil, and Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye (the Kate Bishop issues). At it’s worst it is a clear attempt by DC to use an old favorite to expand into a new market.

DC drew a line in this sand with this comic, and I enjoyed it enough to see where it goes.

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