P:R Roundtable: DC’s New Redesigns (Part 2 of 3)

Note: As the DC turns, we come to the second of our three-part series looking at DC’s recent redesigns. Today we cover Firestorm, Mr. Terrific and Nightwing. – Chris A.

Vito: I prefer the two separated Firestorms to the combined one. I get what he was going for there; Ronnie and Jason are their own men, their own hero, but when they combine, they are super SUPER Firestorm. I just think the individual designs are stronger. It’s like Superman Blue and Superman Red.

Jon: When Ketchup and Mustard mix, they get Mayostorm, the Condiment Man!

Joel: I’m sorry, but I’ve seen Stefan Gambert’s redesign, and now, no other Firestorm is remotely acceptable.

Jon: What bugs me about this is that Firestorm – of all the DC properties not created by Jack Kirby – would be the one to most benefit from a Kirby-esque design. Broader stripes rather than thinner, shapes rather than delineations – there are so many strong elements in the Firestorm costume that could have been made much more bold.

Vito: I would say that of all the DCU Properties, the JSA is probably my favorite after the Batman family. So, with the news that the JSA is being “retired for now,” it’s kind of odd that Mr. T here gets the go around over, say, Power Girl. But this is about the redesign, not the politics of publishing. As a costume, I’m always reticent to accept bare arms on a character that is not invulnerable. Sure, you can’t really die of a gun shot wound to the arm, but it could get hacked off but good (see how that worked out for Arsenal?). I’d be more comfortable if he had short sleeves, or better yet, sleeves to his forearms (half-sleeves?). It looks like he just took off his jacket. It’s not a redesign as much as it is a rethink. My short sleeve/no sleeve annoyance aside, it appears as if the whole point of taking the costume to this step is to show off the tattoos. Now, we can argue whether Michael Holt would have tattoos (if it’s in character or not), but forget that for a second…if there is no JSA (and they’re saying that Superman is the FIRST hero of the modern age), then why does he a have “Fair Play” tattoo? It’s an odd choice.

Jess: This is another costume that doesn’t seem to have had a lot of thought put into it. Why the bare arms? Why the fussy little gloves? Why the red line around his waist? And generally speaking, any mask/makeup job (???) that makes it look like your hero has been drinking blood is not a good look.

Joel: The costume itself seems okay, and I rather like the shoes. The tattoos strike me as out of character, but are visually acceptable. But that red stem on the T-mask is whackadoodle.

Jon: I couldn’t place what was going on with the T-Mask over the nose and mouth, I was hoping it was only a lighting effect. I don’t think the mask is as strong a design element two-toned. Outside of that, though, I largely like this costume – good lines and shapes on the body, very sleek and athletic. I would have preferred that the gloves either go in the trash or be styled to accessorize with the boots, belt and neckline, and superhero tattoos are already showing their age, design-wise, so that wasn’t my favorite choice. It’s dynamic though, and I appreciate that.

Vito: Whackadoodle is now entering the official Project: Rooftop dictionary.

Chris: Honestly, this is one of my favorite super-hero redesigns from DC’s slate of announcements. I especially like the pitted part of the suit where Mr. Terrific’s robots come from.

Vito: The one I’m the most in love with. While I love Dick as a Batman, I was sorely missing some Nightwing in my life. Looking at this, I see Nightwing…and Batman Beyond! He keeps the Batman gloves/gauntlets and he’s more armored. A+.

Jon: I saw a lot of angst online with regards to Nightwing’s costume – “Why is it RED instead of BLUE???” – but, yeah, it’s a nod to Batman Beyond, and that’s great, because Dick Grayson is the original “Next Generation of the Bat-Dynasty”. Happy to see him back in the Nightwing togs in general – I enjoyed his time under the cowl in Morrison’s run, but I preferred him to be his own character – and the update to his previous costume is both elegant and reasonable; same sleek lines as before, now with some very sleek armor plating. I like!

Jess: I dunno, I feel like the classic Nightwing costume and the Batman Beyond costume both work because they’re so simple, and this misses the mark with all the textural effects. Plus, the scary red eyes seem fairly out of character to me. Dick’s a lover, not a fighter! (Well, except for all the fighting he does.)

Joel: You’d think they’d want to get that blue in there to distinguish him from the Red Hood, and Red Robin… and Batwoman, now that I think about it. Man, these guys are going to be embarrassed when they show up at the same alley, all wearing the same thing.

Jon: They’re gonna look like Batman’s backup singers.

I like to imagine that this is intentional branding on behalf of DC – Batman is black and gray and yellow or whatever the scheme is these days, the second-tier Bat-Family is some variation of black-and-red with highlights as needed. I may be giving them too much credit, though.

Joel: I think Batgirl may crack that theory.

Jon: Good point. Too much credit: officially given.

Chris: I’m with Vito on this. I think the red helps Nightwing get out of the shadow of Batman, and is a neat throwback to both Batman Beyond as well as the character’s time working with Deathstroke a few years back. I’d still love to have Dick grow out the long hair as he was seen briefly in the his futuristic self in Teen Titans Go!.

33 comments to “P:R Roundtable: DC’s New Redesigns (Part 2 of 3)”
  1. The red in Nightwing’s new design is a nod to his orginal identiy of Robin. With that thought in mind red should have been his color of choice all along.

  2. The red in Nightwing’s new design is a nod to his orginal identiy of Robin. With that thought in mind red should have been his color of choice all along.

  3. The Nightwing is like Chris O’Donnell’s Robin costume from ‘Batman and Robin’ (without the cape and nipples) Which, I assume, was based on the blue Nightwing costume.

  4. Mr. Terrific design feels more like a sports outfit instead of a costume, which kind of fits his origin so that some what makes sense. His original mask in full black is better choice. Nightwing’s costume should be in blue, not red. But the red does look good.

  5. Woah, Stefan Grambart’s Firestorm is…intense.

    The “pits” on the Mister Terrific costume are cool, but the tattoos are…way more lame than a lame jacket. I LIKED the lame-ness/awesomeness of the silly coat. & like everyone else, the red on the T is utterly mystifying to me.

    I feel like there is promise in Nightwing, but I’ve always thought there was something there. Frankly what I think Nightwing needs is to break into the public eye, somehow– I mean, in the real world– with like, say, a Batman & Robin trilogy that has Dick growing up. He needs “non-fan” acknowledgement to really get cemented in place.

  6. I fell for Firestorm back during the Ostrander/Mandrake era, specifically during the Elemental War. The Elemental look was great as a maturation of the character, but I can understand the need to maintain the original look of the brand.

    I also loved the idea of the Firestorm matrix being a fluid composite of various characters, especially with the inclusion of Lorraine Reilly as a mentor, eventually Martin Stein as a conscience —but the death of Jason’s friend during Infinite Crisis was a huge mistake.

    I don’t mind the idea of Jason and Ronnie sharing the title and role of Firestorm, but there’s a lot of wrong going on in the image above. The ketchup/mustard versions of Firestorm costumes are terribad, the idea of the composite entity as an enraged lipless fiery Anti-Monitor is confusing.

    Stefan Gambert’s “cracking reactor” costume is pitch-perfect for a composite entity that contains the character’s entire history as a superhero, activist, elemental, and alien. The men (or women) who fuse to form Firestorm need more “team-like” uniforms like the X-Men or Green Lanterns, not color-swapped versions of the same awkward costume.

  7. The top picture of Mr. Terrific made him look like a clown with red lips. And the little robot-holes are an odd choice: “Go, pit-bots!” How does he release them if he’s in civilian clothes? Out the bottom of his pants? The Nightwing costume is pretty good. I might have added a red utility belt just to break up the black, though. Super-Firestorm looks awfully angry and zombie-ish.

  8. Nightwing’s costume is also basically the same as the Robin costume from “Batman and Robin” (minus a cape). That’s not a knock; it’s probably about the only good thing from that movie.

  9. Those Firestorm outfits are terrible, they just don’t work at all…a skintight suit with baggy arms? Why doesn’t Red have an emblem? Tron effects? Yellow? Combine to create Disco Ghost Rider! Firestorm never really appealed to me though.

    Mr. Terrific is pretty OK if you lose that mask thing, one giant T is plenty. At least get rid of the red mouth.

    Nightwing is nice and simple. I like the red, could use a utility belt or something to hold his sticks, wallet and cellphone.

  10. I think the Mr. Terrific look fine, it’s almot the same costume without the jacket, and you know what of all the comic characters that had a jacket, his ACTUALLY worked for him and he should stll have it. I’d love for it to be a 3/4 length trench type so it can flair like a cape but not be intrusive.

    The Firestorms desings are cool, and I think the idea of them being seperate and different and then able to fues is pretty cool, however I agree with Joel about Stefan Gambert’s redesign.

    Nightwing rocks. NUFF SAID!! The nod to his time as Robin with the color red is great, and the nod to his time as Batman with the wrist scallops is also a nice touch.

  11. The Batman Beyond suit works because it’s so simple and clean and futuristic. The original Nightwing suit worked in the same way, but this just looks like a weird mashup of the stylish, simple costumes and the more complicated and busy ones like, say, the Nolanverse suit. The lines (I guess they’re meant to be armour or something) on Dick’s neck, arms and legs seem out of place and pointless. A lot of these redesigns seem to suffer from that, actually. The attitude is ‘When in doubt, ADD MORE LINES!’

  12. Yes. My favorite design of the relaunch, and my least.

    But to start with, Mr Terrific. I liked the Motocross Jacket but I also thought the character looked a little stuffy in his high collar matchy-match costume. The robot pits also remind me of a flash suppressor, making him a human gun (which is great!).
    Flash Fact: 36 percent of Americans Males between 18 to 29 are tattooed. It also makes sense that a character that holds an credo such as Fair Play would choose that as their tattoo.

    Firestorm: Unlimited potential for awesome, and we get possibly the ugliest character since Captain Ultra? Ptoooey.

    Nightwing represents EVERYTHING this site strives toward: Incorporation of historic iconography while moving the character forward with a sleek modern design.
    The red represents the character’s embracing of his role as Robin, the Scallops his time as Batman. I love the shiny black, which shoves off the armor aspect without any bulkiness. For once the “seams=armor” effect works with the character.
    The red eyes give him an scary edge to criminal that he needs, and Anjin Anhut won a Dick Grayson redesign challenge with his red eyed mask. Y’all loved it then :)

  13. “Firestorm” as a team book with a Captain Planet aspect has an appeal for me. Maybe in the near future I’ll mash one together with Lorraine, Martin, Pozhar, Jason and Ron.

  14. About the Mr. Terrific tattoos…I assume he keeps his identity a secret, why else wear a mask, correct? Well, wouldn’t those tattoos be a dead give away if he went to the beach or something?

    Also they would look cooler and be easier to read if they went down his arm (like the old jacket sleeves) instead of around them.

  15. See, now, Gambert’s Firestorm is cool. Legitimately cool. The iconography is there, it’s simple…everything you could ask for from a redesign. How can the official redesigns get it so wrong?

  16. Daniel Heard:
    I love the shiny black, which shoves off the armor aspect without any bulkiness. For once the “seams=armor” effect works with the character. The red eyes give him an scary edge to criminal that he needs…

    The seams= armor effect works, but it could be brilliant if the designer took the time to place the seams in a functional manner: why would you have segmented parts in non bend zones?
    I like the red eyes but a bulkier domino mask could improve the design, by making them night vision goggles.

    No matter how great, the illustration is limited by the ideas it is rendering.

  17. Firestorm- I agree with a lot of what Jay had to say. However, without looking up his other costumes online for a reminder, I don’t see much difference in these new looks from what I remember of the old ones, except for the Tron lines around the waste, legs, and headpieces. It seems to me artists are getting a little too carried away with the whole Tron look, although it is a huge testament to the incredible job done by the designers behind that movie. I’ve always hated the baggy sleeve/skin-tight everything else combo. Other than that, Joel and Dedpool are right, Stefan Gambert’s design is the best, and it’s hard to ignore Jon’s ketchup and mustard comment once you apply it to the image.

    Mr. Terrific- Personally, I think it makes sense to ditch the jacket. He’s supposed to be an athlete and the jacket doesn’t really fit. Daniel’s right, a lot of young guys have tattoos, so in a way, Mr. T represents a big percentage of guys out there. I would say we need more superheroes with tattoos, but I’m afraid of the designs certain misguided artists might come up with and which heroes they may try and apply them to. The mask doesn’t bother me too much, so overall I think this look is a success.

    Nightwing- This is easily the best I’ve seen out of all the official DC redesigns. I have to admit, I’m going to miss Dick as Batman. I thought it was a great step forward for his character, and the fact that he is reverting back to being Nightwing feels like a step backwards to me. And although I like this look for Dick, I agree with Superhero of the Month that it doesn’t make sense for Batman’s allies to have the darker uniforms. Also, Jess is right, they need to ditch the “scary red eyes”. Overall, I agree 100% with Daniel’s statement that this costume represents everything this site strives toward. Awesome job!

  18. In ascending order of Taste:
    Firestorm: I just think ‘Fusion… HA!’ When I see that. Jane Fonda disco sleeves?” /Really?/ The whole think reeks of 80s tackiness, Captain Planet-wannabe and DBZ fusion envy. I’d like to see a better detailing on Gambert’s design, and agree with Jon and Chad about Kirbying up and simplifying… that’s gonna be a word you hear a lot from me: /simplifying/.

    Mr Terrific: Liking the pits thing, just not where they are. Why not the shoulders, forearms and thighs? I’m picturing him launching the bots like how a pilot launches a volley of missiles in Robotech, and how it would be awesome if T did something similar. Generally, his suit should have the essence of those teflon track and field suits, and maybe bigger (longer) gloves. And those tatts compromise his identity to the same degree as Clark flying around the Planet bullpen in a shirt and tie.

    Nightwing: would be awesome if I wasn’t so attached to Bruce Timm’s design (I love the winged hawk). Similarly, the BT Nightwing had the better domino mask – much simpler design. They’re variations on a theme really, but the red pushes it a little too close to angsty; the excessive lines complicate the piece and it’s better the devil you know.

    Overall, the problem with putting Jim ‘I-was-a-player-in-90s-extremism-and-it’s-coming-back’ Lee is that for the past decade, design has been yearning towards SIMPLIFYING, working with root elements and streamlining is what is there (look at the Young Justice designs for designs that are on the right track). I’m also sick of seeing the one body type: Mister Teriffic, Flash, Black Lightning should all have the lean physique of sprinters, but they’re always packed to the gill with muscles… Why? Cully is on the whole a great designer (he gave us Jaime’s Blue Beetle) but methinks the pressure has been on to go EXTREME! on these projects. But I digress.

  19. FIRESTORM:i hate the new redesign,just for personal matters,i’m too much in love with pre-crisis Firestorm,i think his costume is like the superman and spiderman costumes:eternal and iconic for the character.
    if i have to say something about this new firestorm i must say i expect by the combo power Firestorm something more powerful than frightening,it looks like an overpowered zombie

    MR TERRIFIC:i just dont care

    NIGHTWING:the red on his costume is awesome,the costume is simple and recognizable for the character,i wish to know if the red in the eyes indicates a more bad attitude for Dick

  20. My comments on this:
    1. I don’t know enough about Firestorm to comment on the matter (I like them in The Brave and The Bold, though)
    2. I don’t really like Mr. Terrific; ok, I don’t know that much about him either, but I can say that the red over his mouth makes him look like a clown in the cover and the Jacket looked cool.
    3. So much Red! My eyes! They’re bleeding! God I hope they don’t put Nightwing against any more red backgrounds, he might blind the readers. (And what’s wrong with Blue? Blue’s cool, no pun intended)

  21. Re: Tattoos working on comic book characters

    If a comic character is going to have a tattoo it needs to be bold and simple enough (just like a character’s costume) so that the details don’t get lost in translation when a new artist picks up the art duties.

    A great example of tattoos gone terribly wrong is WildC.A.T.s member Voodoo’s dragon tattoos on her upper arms and thighs (another Jim Lee character, as we all know). Jim would draw them pretty much consistently throughout his run on the book, but even towards the end they morphed and changed and weren’t ever REALLY drawn the same way twice. They became even more obscured and distorted when other artists jumped on the book, and sometimes the tattoos were ignored all together.

    Examples of good tattoos are SPider Jerusalem (all black, all basic shapes and iconography), any old school script tattooed on someone’s stomach or wherever (100 Bullets’ Lono, or Henchman #24 from the Venture Bros, Bishop), any script in general really usually works (though if it isn’t san-seraphed then the font will change with each artist), large simplified tribal work (Daken, Skaar), etc.

    Having said all that, Mr. Terrific’s tattoos probably have a good chance of remaining consistent no matter who draws him. I don’t really have an opinion whether I’m a fan or not. I could personally take them or leave them, and I won’t be buying the book so…

  22. 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.

  23. I’m disappointed in the Nightwing redesign.

    One of the hallmarks of the Dick Grayson character is that he seems to bring a certain amount of joy and lightness to “The Mission”; that’s there in the original dynamic between the Dynamic Duo: the brooding vigilante with his pixie-boot wearing sidekick. For me, that relationship is what made the recent “Batman and Robin” so enjoyable to read, by turning that relationship on its head and partnering Grayson’s Batman with a dour little Robin.

    I don’t see any of that in this costume redesign. So, no, I don’t like the red (especially the red eyes)–too angry. I don’t like the scalloped boots and gloves and collar–too aggressive. And I even dislike the fins on the gloves–too derivative of Batman. Dick Grayson’s character arc told the story of how he went from being the sidekick to becoming a hero in his own right, differentiating himself from Batman; even when he became Batman, he made the cape and cowl his own. And I also really liked how–unlike the Superman or Captain Marvel families–the extended Bat-family didn’t need to look like they all shopped at the same armory. Just compare Batman to Robin, the original Nightwing design, Huntress, Oracle, Catwoman, Azrael: none of these characters look like Batman, yet their individual aesthetics worked together.

    For me, the Nightwing redesign is a step backwards… I just hope that’s not reflected in the character himself.

  24. The big issue for DC is that they have some of the worst character designs in general outside of the JLA top 5 guys. They are also notoriously lacking in the diversity department ( they can’t even make Wonder Woman Greek) and have the most laughable black characters around. I thought that with the reboot, they would once again get rid of any ethnic characters that they had. Well no. They may be forced to push goofy looking black characters like Mr. Terrific ( just take that stupid T off of his face already ) into the forefront along with characters that we don’t care about ( Cyborg ), and convoluted and derivative replacement heroes (STEEL ? Firestorm ? Maybe down the road John Stewart GL?) that we also don’t care about. With a reboot at hand they don’t take the opportunity to fix what’s broken.

  25. Is its weird that the first thing I noticed is that Jason’s ass is bigger than Ronnie’s?

    It’s probably weird…

  26. @SOKO:

    Who’s “we”? I happen to like Cyborg quite a lot. Also, Cyborg and Firestorm are hardly derivative (they predate most heroes of their specific power concepts), and definitely not replacements. (Steel was very much a replacement hero, and I’ll agree his concept is not original at all.)

    Also, just because you don’t like the character designs doesn’t mean they’re the “worst.”

    As to the panel’s comments:

    Firestorm’s concept has become hopelessly convoluted, and his (their) costume design reflects that perfectly. Why would characters with what is essentially a coherent energy form develop a costume for that form in the first place? It’s not like the Firestorm forms have human naughty bits to cover up…or do they? And if so, wouldn’t Ronnie Raymond pick something that’s more athletic-looking? And wouldn’t Jason pick something that’s a little less Ice Capades?

    On Mr. Terrific, I agree with the panel’s assertion that the “T” mask makes no sense as presented, and that short sleeves for a vulnerable character are a bad idea. Plus, sure, the jacket was looking a little dated, but having him just leave it at home seems foolish. He looks like he’s just going to the gym.

    Nightwing’s move from blue to red seems like he’s not only acknowledging his past as Robin, but also accepting it. Even the “disco” Nightwing outfit was designed to be a radical departure from the Robin look. Ironically, the black suit was always darker than the Robin gear, even though Dick Grayson had been making a point over the past several years about not wanting to follow the same dark path as Batman. Now it’s lighter than his old outfit (at least to my eyes).

    I also agree with the panel that there is a whole lotta black and red going on with Batman’s “backup singers” (I LOVE that gag!)–shades of the West Coast Avengers in the 1980s.

  27. I’m with Joel. Stephan’s firestorm is how I see Firestorm from now on. These Firestorms feel extremely old, tired versions going back to the 90s.

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