Saturday, July 03, 2010

Wondering About Wonder Woman

OK, so apparently I'm the last comics fan in the blogosphere to find out about it, but The Powers That Be at DC Comics have approved a nearly complete revamping of Wonder Woman, including retroactively rewriting her origin story and established continuity (known in the biz as a "retcon") and a major redesign of her costume. The first issue featuring the "new" Wonder Woman went on sale Tuesday, June 29.

In this more or less total overhaul, the Greek gods abruptly alter time and allow Wonder Woman's birthplace, Paradise Island or Themyscira, to be destroyed when Diana is still a child. The infant Diana is smuggled into our everyday world and takes up a new life as a kind of urban vigilante and street fighter. Head writer J. Michael Straczynski, of Babylon 5 fame, is fairly blunt about the reason for the makeover: Sales of Wonder Woman comics are lagging far behind other DC titles, and The Powers That Be hope that WW's new look and story line will perk up interest in the book.

So far, however, the reaction among fans at comics websites I've checked seems to be largely if not overwhelmingly negative. Some like the change in story line, and some like the new costume, but most don't seem to like either one. Chris Sims, host of Chris's Invincible Super Blog, and his pals at ComicsAlliance take readers on a guided tour of Wonder Woman's costume changes through the decades, and most of the panelists give the new look a thumbs down. Here's the Wonder Woman most of us are used to seeing, as drawn by artist Karyn Lewis:

Here, once again, is the "new look" Wonder Woman:

True enough, this redesign addresses some of the complaints fans have had for years about WW's previous costume. The new get-up is certainly more practical for combat and daily wear. For the first time, Wonder Woman has pockets (not to mention pants) for all her superhero gear. However, as other fans have noted, the jacket that's supposed to make her look hip and edgy and boost her street cred just makes her look dated. I had a jacket like that in the early '90s. It was already too small when I bought it, and I quickly outgrew it. I predict Wonder Woman will likewise quickly outgrow this look.

I understand the complaints about WW's old costume. Not to be unpatriotic on Fourth of July weekend or anything, but what's an Amazon princess, a figure from Greek mythology, doing running around in a star-spangled red, white, and blue battle bikini anyway? Yes, her costume could stand to go in a new direction, but I think the look DC chose is precisely the wrong direction.

Therefore, gentle readers, I chose to take Wonder Woman in a completely different direction using the latest version of HeroMachine. I, too, have entered the Wonder Woman makeover derby. Yes, Wonder Woman should be tough, and yes, she should be sexy, but she should also be dignified and regal. She is a princess, after all; a princess from an ancient land of myth, magic, and mystery. I wanted to give her a look that was very clean and simple and neoclassical, something that suggested a toga but still left her ready to fight at a moment's notice. I wanted to portray her on her island home of Themyscira, peaceful by nature but perfectly prepared to kick bad guy trash if the occasion requires. I give you MY version of Wonder Woman:

You'll notice that apart from the red white and blue color scheme, I kept most of her other distinguishing features: jet black hair, silver bracelets, golden belt of Hippolyta, and lasso of truth. I gave her cross-laced sandals because they seemed to fit with the classical, mythological vibe I was going for. I dispensed with the tiara, mainly because HeroMachine 3 doesn't have a tiara at present, and because I always thought the tiara looked a bit silly. (As if the idea of people running around in ridiculous costumes fighting other people in ridiculous costumes isn't silly enough?) A simple circlet might look better. She's a princess but not a beauty pageant winner.

Whaddaya think? Do you (a) love it, (b) like it, (c) hate it, or (d) not really care? Do you think I have a future as a costume designer? Or have I at last snapped and revealed the truly appalling depths of my nerdiness and geekery? Feedback welcome.


K T Cat said...

I like your version much better than the new one. The new one looks like she wants to be Spider Man. Take a look at the webby design on her top.

PaperSmyth said...

What KT said--The "new" one looks like she had a run-in with the Spidey illustration team.

Ever seen a copy of Trinity? (Not to be confused with the Holy Trinity.) Your Wonder Woman costume looks shockingly like the attire worn by Diana's mother on the island. If memory serves, she even has a cape.

But, why doesn't it let you have a crown?

Niall Mor said...

Your Wonder Woman costume looks shockingly like the attire worn by Diana's mother on the island. If memory serves, she even has a cape.

Yes, that whole "Hi, I'm from Themyscira, the last bastion of ancient Greek civilization," look was precisely the look I was going for. And why shouldn't Diana, Princess of the Amazons, dress just like her Mom, Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons?

But, why doesn't it let you have a crown?

Beats me. You'll [have to take that up with the developer.