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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Wild Card: In Your Satin Tights. . .

. . . fighting for your rights and the old red, white, and blue. . .
Wonder Woman!
If you remember this theme song, then give yourself a cookie (but just one, because you're probably watching your cholesterol).
The western world was shocked this last week with the news that Wonder Woman got a new look (designed by legendary comic artist Jim Lee) with Wonder Woman issue #600. Gone are the blue star-spangled bikini bottoms and red boots in favor of very sleek, very black, very, very tight leggings and black boots. Up top, the golden eagle (which has come and gone over the years) has been replaced with a smaller "W" logo, and a blue leather jacket completes the ensemble. The gloves have been redesigned, and the tiara is a bit smaller.
Fanboys are crying out over the loss of bare Amazonian thighs. FOX news and others are up in arms over the new, less "patriotic" look. I think that the fanboys may acquiesce after seeing just how tight penciller Don Kramer is drawing those pants. As for the patriotism angle, Wonder Woman is an Amazon (foreign) princess masquerading as an American citizen named Diana Prince. Maybe we don't want to focus too much on the patriotism angle - certainly not in Arizona, anyway.
Many, like me, are just having a little difficulty letting go of an iconic look that has stayed more or less the same for seventy years.
The new look is tied to a retroactive continuity twist in Wonder Woman's storyline. According to Wonder Woman scribe J. Michael Straczynski: ". . . at some point about 20 years ago or so, the time stream was changed. Paradise Island was destroyed, and Diana as an infant was smuggled out before her mother was killed along with most of the others. She was raised by guardians sent with her and some surviving Amazons, so she has a foot in two worlds, the urban world and the world of her people. . ." (Wonder Woman #600)
This twist allows for a modern re-design of the iconic Wonder Woman costume which has experienced only minor tweaks since her first appearance in 1940: the skirt became more like bikini bottoms and have varied in their "coverage" based upon the artist, the golden eagle breastplate has  alternated or been combined with a "W"also depending upon the artist.
There was one ill-conceived attempt at a "mod" look for Wonder Woman in the late 1960s. It didn't last very long. >
Nor did Aquaman's redesign in the 80s or Spider-Man's black costume.
On the other hand, Wolverine and the other X-Men have gone through dozens of costume changes over the years.
Whether the new Wonder Woman look will last remains to be seen. What it will undoubtedly do is exactly what DC comics intended it to do, and that is to renew an interest in a character who has become a bit uninteresting over the years.
I even went into the Mile High Comics in Cherry Creek (easily the unfriendliest comic book store I've ever been to), to pick up my own copy of issue #600.
It has a great cover by one of my favorite Wonder Woman artists, George Perez, and lots of terrific artwork throughout by artists ranging from Adam Hughes to Phil Jimenez. There's even an essay by TV's Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter. There are four fun new Wonder Woman stories, including the prologue to the time-fractured retcon with a good look at the new costume.
Will the revamp be enough for me to venture back for issue #601 and deal with opprobrious comic book vendors?
Maybe. I do like the new costume. I think.

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