P:R Roundtable: DC’s New Redesigns (Part 1 of 3)

Note: Comic fans have been blasted with volley after volley of revamped characters and titles coming out from DC over the past few weeks. After taking a bit to catch our breath, the P:R team is here to give their own take of the costume redesigns coming from Jim Lee, Cully Hamner and the DC artists. There’s so much to go over we’re doing it in three parts — stay tuned for Part 2 on Wednesday and Part 3 on Friday. – Chris A.

Vito: I don’t wholesale hate it. I’ve grown to accept, if not like, Wonder Woman’s current look. Batman will always look like Batman if he has that cowl and cape and a bat symbol of some sort on his chest. GL, Aquaman and Flash all look recognizable. What I don’t like: Cyborg looks too bulky. I have this character that is essentially a geomorph and he uses plates of stone/rock as armor, much the way that Cyborg has metal and technology as his armor. My biggest hurdle was, “How do I make him look like he won’t fall over?” We fixed and tweeked it, and my character looks fine now, but Cyborg is still too top heavy. He wouldn’t be running, as he is in this image; he’d faceplant.

And Superman…I’m just. I’ll say that I love the traditional classic Superman costume and leave it at that.

Jon: I never understand why so many designers always seem to want to make Superman’s costume look more formal. The way it looks traditionally – the exposed neck, the t-shirt cut on his shirt and the shirt-sleeve cuffs – are important to the character, because they visually acknowledge Superman’s connection with the common man.

The high collar, sleeker body and cuff-highlights admittedly make Superman look more authoritative, like a police officer or a military figure – really, it’s not a bad design in general, but just not for what Superman is supposed to represent. If you acknowledge that there’s a persistent societal conflict between the powers-that-be and the hoi polloi, then the look of Superman’s costume here puts him firmly on the side of The Man, which is not where he’s supposed to be…

Jess: With the exception of Wonder Woman and Cyborg (and I totally agree with you on the latter, Vito), these redesigns mainly seem to consist of taking the classic costumes and making them busier. But strong, clean lines are what made those costumes classic and those characters iconic. These redesigns are just confusing.

Wonder Woman here is actively infuriating to me, and just goes to show how pants or lack of pants isn’t the problem for her. Her choker is clearly supposed to evoke the collar of all the male heroes, but it just begs the question of why she doesn’t get a collar, and a proper shirt, instead of breasts that have such little support from her clothes I’m getting sympathy pains looking at her. If she’s supposed to match the guys, give her the same amount of coverage. If she’s not, let her look like she’s looked for three quarters of a century.

Joel: There’s a story-reason why everyone has the same collar, right? There has to be. Otherwise, it seems to point to a lack of… consideration which would be odd for such valuable properties. I agree with the general consensus that most of these are pretty much the same old thing, only busier, with Flash and Cyborg suffering the worst.

As part of an evolution, Wonder Woman’s costume is a positive step. It’s shares the the same urge towards the contemporary as the previous attempt at a redesign, but is more streamlined. But there’s too many metal accouterments, and they are too pointy. This is something I’ve seen on a lot of Project:Rooftop submissions, lately: putting big, pointing ornaments made out of shiny, rigid metal on parts of peoples bodies that need to flex and move. And I don’t get the appeal. Do lots of comics artists own stock in the company that makes those little round band-aids?

Chris: I can’t un-see the unified collars now that it’s been brought up here. I assume this is all Jim Lee at work here redesigning the costumes. Wonder Woman stands out as the best of the bunch here, but the others seem like an overcomplication of the classic designs. I wonder how long it takes before these revisions fall by the wayside as the designs go into usage across the line.

Jess: Is it just me or does Booster look like he really, really liked Tron and adjusted his costume accordingly? I’ve always thought that Booster’s costume, both with the collar and without, was perfect for his flashy personality while still being really simple and clean. This seems too busy to me, though I suppose it works for the more serious direction they’re trying to take the character in. That mask is gonna lead to some wicked tan lines, though.

Vixen’s another one where I thought her costume worked really well, so I’m wary about changes, though it’s hard to see the full costume here. I actually like Ice’s new costume a lot, but that redesign is from Generation Lost and not the reboot (and could stand to lose the fur belt). And I love, love, love that when given the option, DC redesigned old stalwarts like Superman and the Flash, then apparently looked at Guy Gardner’s baffling turtleneck/vest/moonboots ensemble and went, “Perfect. Don’t change a thing.”

Vito: I’m not sure why they changed Booster’s current costume (basically, the same without the disco collar). It’s certainly not the oddest of choices in the redesigns, just slightly unnecessary.

Joel: Re: Booster: It’s busier, but most of it looks like it could work. I’m perplexed by the open forehead, though. I have a feeling that’s going to screw up a lot of artists’ attempts to get Booster to emote. And is he wearing a skin-tight suit with sleeve cuffs? That looks okay in this pose, but I’m skeptical about how it will play out in a standing pose.

Rocket Red looks like he might have made pretty decent upgrade, though. Wish I could see the gloves and boots.

Jon: None of these are particularly offensive or impressive, although Booster’s gauntlet might get unwieldy rather quickly. I always thought the point of the Rocket Red armor was that it looked clunky and retro, but the new streamlined look is pretty nice. I wish everyone had their heads raised, though, so we could see if they’ve got those collars…

Vito: While I don’t hate it (it certainly falls in line with who and what Hawkman is), he reminds me too much of the Teen Titan, Golden Eagle (Charlie Parker).

Jon: I can’t even make heads or tails of this thing. I can’t parse how that shoulder thing works at all, or what’s going on with the knee – I’d need to see this one more straightforward.

Joel: I can’t see enough of this to really say anything about it other than to voice a bit of skepticism all the spikeyness.

44 comments to “P:R Roundtable: DC’s New Redesigns (Part 1 of 3)”
  1. I was about to ask why no one mentioned or dissected the new Superman S symbol, but then remembered that a discussion of the icon’s symbology isn’t so much about fashion as it is about typography, history, and brand management.

    I’m not thrilled with Wonder Woman. I agree that it’s a step forward from the Jim Lee thing, but it still relies on ornament and ignores the gold elements of her costume.

  2. I think these concepts are amazing… I frequently read these posts and think to myself, “What are ther=se guys talking about?” Though far more likely we are on the same page. I agree that Bats’ will always be Bats’ however if you look closely its full ideas for the batman we are all familiar with. Its actually interesting how little the PR guys gripe about a lack in originality when it comes to that. Which brings me to my next point, the relentless and utter rejection of different Superman incarnations. I hate the original costume personally. It’s stuck in the past and is from an era where the “underwear” design was running rampant!. I appreciate the change of the red briefs for the belt. Though I agree this more refined look brings Clark away from is simple roots, his life and how far he’s come since then warrants upgrading, I think. Also, we tend to rely too much on concepts of characters and confuse story arcs and backgrounds with character traits. This more “clean cut” look brings out the leadership and universal soldier qualities in Superman, So I back it 100%. I full heartily agree with the stance against Wonder Woman. Her design the past 5 or so years has strayed too far from her origins, and adds nothing to the character. Shes a bad ass Amazonian, not a biker chic from Miami. My personal love for cyborg only makes me love this design more the more i look at it. I can justify the upgrade because he’s in whole other league now he should be more bulky and armored, and since he is a cyborg, the worry about him “falling over” seems a bit silly… I won’t go on and on any longer than I already have, but the long short of it, these re-d’s are awesome with a splash of bad assery!

  3. I’m sorry but I can’t agree on most of the positive notes of the costumes. There are too many seams and bells and whistles that just make the suits look gaudy (Superman’s especially). Also I’m not sold on DC’s plan to cover up most of their super heroines when Wonder Woman’s ta-tas are about to fall out of her top. And lets not forget about what they did to Harley Quinn.

    Forgive me for saying this, but I so want to slap Jim Lee for laying this mess upon our laps. If DC had more brains than bad ideas, they would have hired someone more qualified to update the costumes. Not just some over-hyped artist who’s fashion sense is stuck in the 90s.

    Mr. Q

  4. With Wonder Woman, I think they didn’t give her a real collar because it wouldn’t be WW if she didn’t make Zatana (Vegas stage uniform), Power Girl (boob window), and Black Canary (dive/titty/biker bar uniform) look modest.

  5. This entire fiasco is based on getting rid of underwear, namely Superman’s and Wonder Woman’s. DC needed to update Superman and Wonder Woman, maybe so that the upcoming movie versions of them would match the current comic book look. To do this would look way too shallow so they did all of these redesigns as a distraction. All of the major changes stink…except Wonder Woman who actually looks pretty great and with a few minor tweaks would be perfect. Superman just doesn’t look right without his red underwear, we would all save ourselves a lot of anguish if we just accepted that fact!

  6. I was wondering when you guys were finally going to touch on all the redesigns going on at DC comics. I have to agree that the collars were a stupid idea, though I understand Jim Lee was trying to go for a matching look with all the team members. I think Jon is looking a little too far into Superman’s original costume, though I can see how someone could interpret it that way. And I can’t tell, but did the artist at least change Guy Gardner’s hairstyle? If so, then I guess that’s a start. Vito’s right about Hawkman too. He just looks like Golden Eagle with Hawkman’s chest symbol.

    I really wish that, since DC is making a move for a “fresh start”, they would’ve chosen to do something a little more bold with their costume redesigns. These really are just their classic looks with a lot of clutter. There’s nothing special about them. However, they don’t bother me all that much. They definitely could’ve been a lot worse.

  7. I thought Aquaman’s costume was going to be very diffirent-and I was hoping it would be. Maybe they could be inspired by someone’s great Aquaman costume contest. I agree that Superman’s looks too authoritative, and WW could just wear a black top under her armor-thingy.

  8. None till now are worth the title of redesign. they look more like illustrations by someone who doesn’t know their costumes and therefore kinda come up with some superfluous details…

  9. Honestly guys, I hope you don’t bash this stuff too much! I myself, and a huge amount of people I know are planning on picking this stuff up based on the redesigns alone! This is so much more fluid, contemporary and mature than putting underwear on the outside of the spandex.

  10. I just think it all is a mess. The redesigns doesnt obey any reason at all, its just Lee doing his thing, the armor look, the over complication with the lines, etc… I cant believe so many people think Jim Lee its a gifted artist. His anatomic knowledge its not very good, and his aestetics points of view died with the 90’s.

    As a big DC fan Im very disappointed with this unnecesary (once again) reboot, and with the unnecesary redesigns, specially Superman, who does not need the armor look, its completely against character, specially the collar thing, which its completely against the “suit under clothes” of all life.

    Didio should show a bit more respect for the past while looking to the future.

  11. Wonder Woman’s top looks even less supportive than her classic costume. I do appreciate the modification of the boot, however (not shown in this picture), which brings back the pattern of the white stripe up the center of the shin.

    I really like the collars on GL and Aquaman, but I agree that Superman’s shouldn’t have changed. And reiterating the design to WW’s choker just makes me wonder why these four characters have it and the others don’t.

    The JLI designs don’t bother me (although I’m interested to see what Fire looks like “flame-off”), except for Vixen. I thought her last costume was perfect–simple, yet stylish–and I loved the lapels. I particularly don’t like how the linked belt runs over the tiger print (which, in general, isn’t my taste here), or the hand-gloves. Overall it seems like its trying to be a tad too “African”, with the prints, bands, teeth (?), etc.

  12. Can we be honest here? The only two redesigns that actually matter here are Superman and Wonder Woman. Okay, okay…the only redesign that matters here is Superman.

    Everyone else has either been done before (Aquaman), we’ve gotten used to different versions in different media (Batman), or is someone who, frankly, just doesn’t matter (Booster Gold).

    That said, we can rightly rip on the new Uniformedly Collared Justice League. Because it’s just so, so, well…stupid.

  13. I definitely won’t be reading anymore of the round table.

    While not entirely negative or pessimistic, this read like it was just fans stuck in the Silver Age bashing an attempt to bring classic heroes into the modern world.

    Objectivity for the win, guys. Group trolling is never fun to read.

  14. Yay, some descent critiques at last!
    Overall you can see two authorial voices throughout the line. Cully Hamner’s Less-is-More efficiency vs. Jim Lee’s More-is-More enthusiasm.
    @Jon: This is the best argument of the necessity to make Superman’s aesthetic a casual one that I have ever heard. He has to look approachable and open, and no-one looks that way in a formal/armored uniform. Ironically, The Apollo character redesign looks more Modern Superman than Big Blue himself.

  15. I’m fairly certain Green Lantern changes will be minimal if at all; DC has too much invested and too much readership built up to mess with GL-related stuff, costume OR story-wise. Same goes for Batman (as you said, his minor tweaks don’t change much anyway).

  16. The comment Jess made about Superman/Flash/Guy Gardener is spot on. They fixed what wasn’t broken, left stuff that needed fixing, and made all the same mistakes redesigning the characters that needed it. Such a missed opportunity.

  17. I’m afraid the first thing that caught my eye in the JLA pic was the Green Lantern’s penis guns. What. They stood out.

  18. A few of these character designs, like Jess said, are just too busy. The principle behind creating a costume is to have as much that fits the character as possible, while making it recognizable (sort of iconic) and yet keeping it simple so that the artist is able to keep everything the same from panel to panel. You don’t want to give the artist too much to do, like the design for Cyborg has done. Costumes like Barry’s or Hal’s are pretty much exactly what you want, efficient use of space and yet instantly recognizable to the average person.

    I prefer this version of Superman’s suit if it had the old neckline, rather than the military cut. I must say that Superman’s costume is at least on the right path as far as being streamlined, as are the costumes of Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Flash. Batman’s is slightly bulkier and Cyborg’s is just plain ridiculous. The jaw and back are far too bulky.

    I may comment again later, but I believe I’ve already said most of what I wanted to.

  19. Personally I dont like the redesign of the justice league,except for wonder woman there are not significative changes,just a bunch of lines on gloves and shoulders and heavy boots,i think it could be fuctional the same way with a minor redesign of some elements of the costumes like the same jim lee did with magneto’s neck plate (from small bolts to big bolts) and todd mcfarlane did with spiderman’s eyes.
    I dont like Cyborg,you are right,too bulky,but still i think he needs a redesign,if Iron Man the technological super hero for exellence changes his armor every year with the progression of technology the same,i think,should be done for the other technological superheroes.

    Hawkman have changed so many times that frankly i dont care anymore,but i like this version

    Otherwise i totally like Booster gold,he needs a redesign,his old costumes screams 80’s everywere,the new costume is awesome,coloured like his personality and totally recognizable for the character

  20. It’s not pro-Silver Age, trolling, or bitchy to be clearly and succinctly anti-Jim Lee.

    Lee does a lot of costume design for a lot of money and yet they always look the same, dated, ignorant of themes, brands, and translation, and aren’t something many other artists can work with or enjoy drawing.

  21. You hit the nail on the head with your assessment of Superman’s classic costume. I never noticed before but things like lower cut collars and bare hands aren’t that common in male superheroes and they give Kal-El a much more friendly and human look. It’s interesting how changing even one small part of the costume (like giving him a higher collar) completely changes the look of the character, making Superman appear more like a cop or soldier. His powers shouldn’t be a scary thing (which is why I tend to hate when people draw him scowling or roaring with those glowing red eyes), the point is that he’s an all powerful godlike creature who is also a thoroughly GOOD person, even without the powers. He’s a loving god.
    I also like the outside underwear. The suit looks too blue without it. Just change the shape a little so it doesn’t just look like regular guy with underwear outside his pants and say it’s Kryptonian fashion. Superman doesn’t really need a costume anyway (he could fly around wearing nothing but a sombrero if he wanted) so he’s one of the few superheroes who doesn’t need an excuse or practical reason for the red underwear. I’ve always thought it looked silier on Batman.

  22. Green Rhonin:
    While not entirely negative or pessimistic, this read like it was just fans stuck in the Silver Age bashing an attempt to bring classic heroes into the modern world.

    I think you are mistaking critical discourse for “trolling” and “bashing”. Everyone discussing the new costume designs are the current judges of our Redesign Challenges and de facto experts on superhero design. They are encouraged to speak their opinions. This is also their site and they signed their name, so unlike you my friend they are in no way “trolling”.
    Instead of bitching, how about presenting a counter argument as to why these “modern” costumes that were “bashed” are better than the costumes they replaced. I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter, “Green Rhonin”.

    I for one am less enamored with Silver Age costume design then a lot of the roundtable participants, and would love to see some modern costumes for these old stalwarts, but I don’t think that arbitrary seems, armored boots and nehru collars are doing the job. For instance, if the brief for Superman read: “maintain the blue body suit and red cape, eliminate red trunks, and imply advanced technology with seams while presenting a modern design sense” an artist can easily show up with this, http://tinyurl.com/bettersupes
    rather than what showed up to the party.

  23. Some people seem to miss the fact that Superman is STILL wearing underwear. It’s just turned blue. Look closely, and you’ll see the rims of his underpants. Those are NOT creases.

  24. Overpants dissenters are sacrilegious, barbarous lunatics who now clearly run the asylum. Damn you all. It’s SUPERMAN.

  25. Well, first of all, lets set the record straight. Superman does not wear a pair of “underwear” over his tights. He wears “trunks”. The original Superman costume was based on the look of circus strong-men and acrobats in the ’30s and ’40s. There was a distinct purpose for them too: covering up one’s crotch area when wearing tights. Without trunks, those old circus uniforms did not leave a whole lot to the imagination.

    Anyway, I find most of these designs to be much ado about nothing. Diana likely won’t stay in this look for long. Just a feeling I have. Superman’s needs to find some way to add another splash of red to break up all that blue. Cyborg’s look is so clunky. It wouldn’t bother me so much if it weren’t for the idea that this is supposed to be a “modern” look for Cyborg. We live in a technological era of smart phones, laptops and tiny little MP3 players. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the tech to get smaller, sleeker and more seamless in the modern age? Otherwise, I just see people adding a lot of seams and construction lines plus the illusion of some kind of “light armor” to some old designs. Someone on another board said that it looks like they’re borrowing from the video game school of character design, and I think there’s something to be said for that.

  26. I’d be a fan of Wonder Woman if they gave her some chest support. There is no possible way she can fight crime with a top like that, and if they added straps (like Jason Adenuga’s, maybe. His top would be perfect if he streamlined the sleeves and went from blue to red), maybe they wouldn’t feel the need for that idiotic choker. At the very least, the choker would look better if it wasn’t the only thing around her shoulder/neck area. Also, I really miss the gold in her outfit. Silver’s a neat idea to play around with, but gold adds that regal touch. I like the idea of pants, but as others have said, they need to be blue with stars down the side (or something similar) in order to work.

    I actually really like the Green Lantern and Aquaman designs, mostly because they’re the two for whom a fancy collar makes sense. One’s a king, the other’s an intergalactic policeman, it works. Aquaman especially seems like a good middle ground between the Silver Age and 90’s designs, with just enough of both to let me take him seriously for once.
    Batman will always be Batman, I have no real complaints, but Cyborg would do well for being a little more streamlined and, dare I say, human. Flash’s insignia looks too… plastic, but I’m not enough of a Flash fan to judge beyond that.

    And Superman…. The comment about Superman’s collar and how his T-shirt look makes him look like one of the people was spot on. Additionally, I understand why they’re trying to get rid if the undies. Really, I do. But the taking away the undies just doesn’t work. You need the red to break up the blue. It’s part of what makes him iconic. He’s the guy who makes the red undies work.

  27. As a Green Lantern reader all I can say si that Guy Gardner had indeed lost the stupid hair and the turtle neck (the last one was now some kind of body suit or tights). So, it is not the same, is the old one with the things they fixed turned back to the 90’s.

    The thing is they got us talking about it and we will buy it to see if they f’uped. They get our cash, we get to talk about it, mission acomplished

    PD: sorry for the crappy english, I’m from Argentina.

  28. Justice League Nehru Collar. Truthfully, I like that Superman looks a bit more dignified; I’ve always thought of him as somewhat regal, and this brings that out to me. I get that everyone is like, “Where’s his underoos?”, but I’m glad they’re gone, I just wish his costume wasn’t so… blue? Aquaman actually looks great so far, and I can’t really see a difference between Flash and Batman’s usual digs. Green Lantern, 1988 called and would like it’s shoulder pads back. Cyborg is one of my least favourite characters in the DCU, but he look unwieldy and bulky, and archaic. My big problem is Wonder Woman. Why does she have to look like she’s headed out to a fetish night? I get the idea of modernizing her, but I don’t think this is remotely modern. I feel that if DC wants to depart from her traditional look then either embrace her Amazonian background or completely change it all together. I also find it insulting that while the majority of the dudes on the team still resemble their classic looks, Princess Diana is given a bustier and hooker tights. ;-/

    Guy Gardner, I like yer hayer… And The “Savage” Hawkman makes no sense to me at all.

  29. dnwilliams:
    Overpants dissenters are sacrilegious, barbarous lunatics who now clearly run the asylum. Damn you all. It’s SUPERMAN.

    I’m with the Brohawk on this. Friday, I go into why I’m not a fan of the new Superman costume.

  30. It’s interesting that every Wonder Woman analog in existence features a dominant gold, followed by white or red. Stan Lee’s WW, Promethea, Glory, Amaze, Power Princess, She-Ra, Teela, Isis, the list goes on and on…

    The above costume leans far too much on Black Canary’s brand kit, rather than exemplify and amplify what makes Princess Diana significant. She’s the original Olympic Athlete superhero. Don’t get it twisted with street-fighting and super-soldiers. The woman needs to be dressed in her gold medal.

  31. I’m not Brohawk…

    I think my point still stands though, despite my comparative lack of authority on the subject.

  32. Things I must say:
    1. Superman’s suit needs more red, all that blue gives me a headache. And I don’t understand why people redesign the logo all the time (this includes Red Son and Nazi-Superman). That’s not an “S” that’s the shield of the El Family, one just not redesign Shields.
    2. Amazons don’t wear pants, they’re Amazons. If you don’t want WW to wear a bathing suit, then just give her a Greek armor skirt thingy, it worked in The New Frontier.
    3. Cyborg is ugly. Period, only his Teen Titans Go incarnation looked cool.
    4. I hate Booster’s new outfit, I hate it with passion. He’s my favorite DC character, I don’t want to see him in some busy, stupid costume.
    5. Carter’s still not wearing a shirt huh?

    P.D. Hey, what happened to the chick in Black and Gold?

  33. Thanks for giving well-chosen words to what my eyes were screaming (“NOOO!”). While I’m not a fan of DC comics, I am a fan of those characters and a fan of costume re/design. So far, I can’t believe even an image of Batgirl by Adam Hughes could look bad. Just too much extra in all the wrong places.

    Also, that Hawkman cover looks like DC is trying to trick kids by thinking they’re picking up an issue of Wolverine.

  34. Did anyone notice that Lee forgot to draw Hal Jordan’s ring? Perhaps he used up his supply of detail lines in putting the unnecessary armband around Wonder Woman’s left bicep……

  35. Wow, Lee really did forget GLs ring, I thought it was on his left hand but after zooming way in there’s no trace of a ring at all. Also after Fono’s comments I can’t un-see the unfortunate placement of GL’s “big gun”…

  36. Everyone’s been less harsh on these designs than I thought.

    Way too much ‘design for the sake of design’ going on here. Nehru collars and uniformed low-rise belts (see other promo, http://chrishaley.tumblr.com/post/6945101190/i-imagine-the-meetings-at-dc-about-the-redesigns) are one thing but adding needless clutter is another.

    For example, Flach: lightning piping on the head is interesting but a little much with his existing ear-wing-things, all of a sudden there’s more going on on his head than anywhere else… except for the boots. Really? Do these honestly convey the message that this character is fast? He’s a runner… in big, garish, space boots…

    Just sloppy design work, I expect more from professionals. These are the opposite of progressive, they are needless, uninspired, and already tired.

  37. Pingback: Project Rooftop on the DC redesigns « Mognet Central

  38. Who cares about costumes. Folks – I’ve not been paying much attention to the New 52 but WHAT? That’s basically the Giffen JLA up there with Booster Gold at the helm.

    What? What? What? – please tell me Keith Giffen is writing it and it’s going to be stupid again? I would actually buy that.

    Please call the nostalgia corps. I need to join.

  39. I am AMAZED Vixen and Ice managed to escape with their midriffs covered up.

    @ Maki P – The missing ring was an artist mistake. DC made a statement about it.

  40. Who’s the orange guy with the staff in the JLI picture? I was surprised no one mentioned him.

  41. dude!! what games were they playing with the long? I get bored after eating 2 hours of online video video games period, let alone having to see work everyday and having your life and responsibilities. I wonder how weighty money that cost him to stick there and play such a long time?

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