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Monday, March 16, 2015


(art by David Finch and Jonathan Glapion)

This is the just-released image of Wonder Woman's new costume, apparently a direct response to those who bitch and moan about her classic look being too revealing. What in the holy living fuck is this??? This new design fairly screams "corporate licensing mandate." To me, this looks like a character from Tron, only minus the neon detailing and bicycling helmet, and the only way to fugly this up any further would be to have her head completely obscured by an upside down Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket with eye holes cut into it. Upon seeing this, I spoke with a certain prominent cartoonist (whom I will not name out of professional courtesy) and that person described this as "What's even going on with this? It's a kitchen sink approach. It looks like she couldn't decide on what to wear, so she just threw on everything!"

I'm a lifelong Wonder Woman booster, indoctrinated early by my mother who grew up reading the character in the 1940's — she's a true feminist who would never bother to apply the label of feminist to herself — so my favorite look for the Amazon princess is the 1940's style. Kinky hair, breastplate clearly drawn to look like a solid armored component, bracelets as a reminder of the Amazons' enslavement at the hands of cruel males, those signature boots, and shorts that stopped at mid-thigh (as opposed to a bikini bottom) that brought to mind a '40's-era female athlete. 

This is what immediately comes to mind when I think of the Wonder Woman of the comics.

Diana is a physical presence, a warrior/athlete who would be proud of her body's fitness and fine honing as a peak performance instrument of her will and agency, not flaunting her sex appeal, as is too often mis-perceived. (And, to be fair, mis-handled by some one-handed artists.) And when it comes to more contemporary takes on the character, the versions that stand out in my estimation would the those delineated by George Perez, who rebooted Wonder Woman in the mid-1980's, and Brian Bolland, whose impeccable labor-intensive line work on the series' covers lent Diana a regal dignity that shone throne in whatever composition he crafted for her.

The sweet and smiling George Perez version.

Brian Bolland's regal take.

None of these depictions is "revealing," prurient, or exploitative in the least. Instead they project the formidable spirit and athletic physical prowess of a hero who happens to be a woman. Like I said previously, Diana's physicality is a major part of her function as a warrior, so her gear should restrict her limbs as little as possible and, as a warrior steeped in ancient Greek martial culture, she would know that and attire herself accordingly. (Also, the lack of armor points out the non-invulnerable Diana's confidence in her own fighting acumen and skill with her bracelets when dealing with bullets and other projectile attacks. That would frustrate the living shit out of opponents who underestimated her and thought she'd be an easy target.) There is nothing immodest here, especially since Diana was not taught shame over her body, and her garb communicates both the aforementioned physicality and the strong, proud ethos of the Amazons, who are about as hardcore tough as it gets. That's pretty fucking cool and a great role model for young girls. And speaking of fucking cool, this Cliff Chiang design for a statue of Diana is exactly the kind of thing that a Greco-Roman mythology fan like me wants to see applied to her when she's kicking ass and taking no prisoners. This was very well though-out, right down to her hair being tied up so it doesn't obscure her vision during battle.

Cliff Chiang's excellent design. Tres gladiatorial!

The only element that regularly threw a monkey wrench into Diana's heroic presentation was when the character was under the creative control of illustrators who based her look on their own lusty fantasies — which are mostly inappropriate for a flagship female hero, and not just a flagship female hero, but the flagship female hero — drawing her with a Barbie-like physique, or rooting her  design in photo reference of silicone-augmented swimsuit models and exotic dancers/strippers.

Then you get another effect, in which DC Comics tried to appease internet whiners who piss and grouse about Wonder Woman's outfit being "sleazy" and "hooker-ish." While kissing the collective internet ass of their overly-politically-correct detractors, some of the stylistic misfires applied to the Amazing Amazon's look include:
  • A black leather jacket with matching gloves and boots, accented with ebony biker shorts and sports bra. That look was once descried by one of my Marvel Bullpen colleagues as "making her look like one of those chicks who hangs out at the Scarp Bar."
  • Another leather jacket, coupled with pants, thus giving her the look of a generic denizen of a seedy biker joint.
  • Most recently, a return to what was her basic template, only with a considerably muted color palette, dark blue/black shorts with minimal stars, black boots (with white trim), silver torc worn on her bicep, and an ill-advised metal choker that no sane warrior would wear into active combat.      
And now we're given a design that does not speak at all of Wonder Woman's positive aspects and instead evokes a generic costume store manikin or, perhaps more accurately, one of those random variant action figures that no kid wants to play with unless there's absolutely nothing else to be had.

As a result of seeing this latest of DC Comics' ongoing tsunami of pop culture war atrocities, I just got through looking on Amazon Marketplace for a copy of the WW coffee table book that came out when I was a kid, so I can give it my niece Aurora for her seventh birthday. I refuse to let her come up in a world without a proper Diana. I just will not allow it.

And just what, dear Vaulties, is your opinion on this?


Paul Becton said...

Don;t you yet realize that since all your arguments make a TON of sense that there's no place for them in this present world of ours?P

South Jersey Girl said...

The classic costume can't be beat, especially not by the addition of blue long johns complete with turtle neck (ugh) worn under a tunic. Diana's distain for the trappings of man's world would not allow her to take that kind of cover nor adopt wrist swords (which would ram themselves up her arm if she were to use them, by the way). I'm with you, Bunche, star spangled bermuda shorts and a hammered brass breast plate (my every day attire).