When Wonder Woman #600 hit comic racks last Wednesday, the world witnessed a new costume design for the iconic heroine. Black leggings and a leather jacket were slapped onto the previously revealing outfit, downplaying the heroic colors and trim. It seemed like an awful change to such an iconic look for no other reason than an attention grab. A bit on the arrogant side for incoming writer J. Michael Straczynski to have her redesigned as soon as he gets the book. But then I learned more about what he’s plotting and began to change my mind…
Wonder Woman is one of the great pillars of superheroes, and there’s arguably no female superhero more famous or recognized. Generally speaking, despire a couple of hiccups every hero has every now and then, her stars and stripes uniform has undergone minor and natural changes as it evolved over time. She has lost the skirt, let her hair fly loose and started sporting a WW on her eagle bosom.
One of the interesting aspects of the classic Wonder Woman look is how patriotic it is. Red, white and blue, covered with stars? That just screams “America, f*** yeah!” The ironic part is that she’s even more of an immigrant than Superman. Clark Kent was still raised in the heartland of the country and grew up learning the old truth, justice and the American way. Princess Diana is from the hidden island of Themyscira, home of the mythic Amazons, and she doesn’t come to America until adulthood. She has to learn the American way in a way colleagues like Superman don’t have to, but she embraces it wholeheartedly as is evident simply from costume choice.
So why the costume change? At first, simply seeing images of it, I thought it was silly. It was a corruption of an iconic image with a subpar design. I couldn’t tell who it was trying to rip off from. Black Canary? Sara Pezzini? 1990s Superboy?
But then I actually read Wonder Woman #600. In addition to being an excellent anniversary issue (stay tuned to CineGeek.com for an upcoming review of a not-so-excellent anniversary issue), it contained the prologue to J. Michael Straczynski’s upcoming “Odyssey” storyline. Alternate timeline, according to Straczynski. Themyscira gets destroyed in the past, and the Amazons live among man. It seems to be another “alternate timeline version tries to fix the timeline and set things right” story. It’s not a new concept, but throwing in the Greek mythology and Wonder Woman backstory into the mix makes for an interesting concept.
The new design stems from the fact that Wonder Woman is raised in America. She has some more American sensibilities (like pants). In that respect, it seems more reasonable. Still looks like she was raised in the ’90s, but it works in the world Straczynski is building. Plus there is the added bonus that we actually know this is a temporary outfit until the timeline is fixed, instead of us “knowing” it’s temporary because it looks ridiculous.
Straczynski is generally a great comic book writer. I loved his run on Thor, and most of his Amazing Spider-Man is really good. Still, the man has had missteps (“The Other”? Really?). When I first saw the new uniform, I thought he was misstepping again, but now I’m thinking it’s on the right track.