P:R Roundtable: DC’s New Kid Flash!

Note: In a flash, DC remade its superhero universe from the ground up last fall. Kid Flash aka Bart Allen has been a part of the Teen Titans series with a redesign by Brett Booth, but the advance solicits for DC Universe Presents #12 show a tweaked take on Booth’s design that really fixes many of the problems we discussed when the New 52 design was revealed. P:R asked who was the artist responsible for this redesigned Kid Flash, but have yet to hear back with a name. While we wait, we convened a P:R Roundtable panel with some of our writers discussing this new take. The illustration below is by Ryan Sook. – Chris A.

Vito Delsante: Without knowing who to credit with this design (I think Brett Booth did a design earlier in the year that was pretty sweet), and without seeing the design as a whole, I guess the best thing that can be said for this design is…at least the colors are right. In fact, there are a lot of things right with this (the traditional yellow mask/cowl, the way the pants start with a lightning design). I don’t really have an issue with this costume at all. But, as far as costume designs go, the original Wally West Kid Flash costume is, in my eyes, one of the greatest costume designs in comics history.

Oh, and I’ll never knock Ryan Sook art. That’s another thing this one has going for it.

Jessica Plummer: This design looks like an attempt to marry Bart’s Impulse costume to Wally’s classic Kid Flash one, modernizing it along the way, and for the most part I think it’s successful (though it does make me want to shake my fists at the heavens at Bart’s being shoehorned into Wally’s old role in the DCnU, which is a disservice to both of them).  I like the contrast palms and the integration of the Titans logo on the shoulders, though I’m uncertain about what’s happening in the elbow area.  My biggest pause comes from the eyes – the red lenses are off-putting and alienating, which seems wrong for any Kid Flash.  Where is my sweet Bart of yesteryear?

Glen Weldon: I’m a big fan of the old original Kid Flash costume. (Well not the OLD OLD original – when he was just wearing a Muppet-Baby version of Wally’s costume, but the two-tone job he sported for 20-odd years.) I like the evocation of that look (though the teensy lightning bolts at the beltline don’t do much more than underscore the “look at m’junk” element of the costume; the lightning at the elbows just seems fussy). But the cowl is great.

The T-patches are okay, and deliberately recall the X-Men, but I worry where the “team designation design element” will lead — will Justice League Dark get little Hershey’s Miniatures epaulets?

Mostly, though, I’m puzzled by the twinned lightning bolts down the torso. When he’s running, they’re okay, but when he’s standing, they’ll just look like overalls designed by Bob Mackie, or, worse, a bolero jacket. I also question the depiction of the lightning iconography: Historically, the lightning bolts on the Flashes have been rendered horizontally (belt, gloves) or at a stark diagonal (insignia), which connotes speed. I’d argue when you render a lightning bolt vertically (Captain Marvel) you’re expressing POWER, not speed.  Just me?

Jon Morris: Those are the same elements which are sticking out to me the most as well – the opera gloves are extra-fussy and they’re going to look a mess in the hands of half the artists who draw the character, and the vertical lightning bolts make him look more like a lightning-based character rather than a speedster (he looks like a flier, not a runner). Also – and this is something we see all the time with submissions to Project:Rooftop contests – all of the design attention has been paid to the upper half of the body, while from the waist-down it’s pretty perfunctory.

Outside of that, I always like to see short sleeves – or the intimation of short sleeves – and loose hair on the teen characters, they express “youth” very well. I like the palette overall – you run a risk with a ketchup-and-mustard color scheme, but these are good choices, the aged yellow and the somewhat sanguine, muddled red. I do think the cowl could use some breaking up, some more interesting shapes along the verticals of the face (are you guys seeing the lightning-bolt “headband” at his hairline? That’s got to go). I’m not really a fan of the yellow palms – or the gloves at all, really. Those could use a general re-think, they need to be less complicated and more fluid. I almost like the tunic, but the belt and the “vest” need to get along with one another better. I think I’d move the lightning bolts on his chest over to the sides of his torso, let their edges define a belt in negative space, move some yellow into his legs….

18 comments to “P:R Roundtable: DC’s New Kid Flash!”
  1. Not bad at all, but maybe a just little bit too busy in some areas.

    My biggest problem is the mask … it doesn’t contrast enough with his face/skin … the red stripe at the hairline is pointless … those red eyes … and the ear fins things would look better being red.

    Despite these nit-picky things you’ve got a pretty good KF here.

  2. I have no problems with this design other than the red eyes. On that subject, I completely agree with Jessica’s comments. The rest looks pretty fantastic to me.

  3. I also agree that the extra lightning bolts make the costume too busy. That was the problem with most of George Perez’s costume designs. In the hands of a lesser artist (which most people are, let’s be honest) those same designs look ridiculous.

    I really, really don’t like the ‘T’ patches on the shoulders. It is absolutely copying Marvel (X-Men, Fantastic Four) which DC should never, ever do. On that same note, the red lenses make KF look like Cyclops. Clear or white lenses would be better, even wraparound safety glasses or goggles as long as they’re some other color than red.

  4. I only dislike that mask. The top is too high, so it looks like someone stuck a toupee on a reverse flash mask. The red eyes are just wrong for Bart. He’s all about a lower mask and goggles

  5. I don’t like it. But for the features it shares with costumes its influenced by rather than any innovations its made. It probably doesn’t help that I have no love for the character. How many Flashes do you people need? Goddamn.

  6. Discovered Project Roof Top only recently and just love it. For my money the new Kid Flash design looks pretty sweet. Very true to the past but has a nice fresh feel. The badging on the shoulder is new though, not sure about that yet.

  7. I get the issue with the torso bolts. If I were designing (which I never will be because I don’t REALLY know what I’m talking about) I’d probably loose those and the ones at the elbows. I do like the ‘T’ logos though and they look good surrounded by the red. Maybe swap out the torso red and just leave red shoulder circles with the logo pad in.

    Of course you then have no major lightning bolt on the body short of slapping in the old red bolt from the classic design. I think that design isn’t quite as dynamic as bolts splitting out of coloured sections as they do here. And you can see why they would want to stick to a fresh new design rather than harkening back.

    Maybe loose the twin bolts and go for a Quicksilver style lightning sash? Diagonal for speed. Less messy.

  8. Love this look. It’s classic and modern all at once. The red eyes differentiate him from his Adult counterpart. And the fact that these guys are NOT sidekicks actually makes the fact that their suits don’t automatically refelect their conuterparts okay.

  9. I have nothing specific to say about the design that hasn’t already been said by the rest of you, but I would like to touch on the concept of superhero teams (so I guess I’m addressing KF’s shoulder T’s?).

    Basically, If you’re a superhero/villain team, you have some options:
    1) Wear a team uniform. The Fantastic Four do it. The X-Men started out with one uniform and have occasionally gone back to various iterations of it (Claremont’s & Lee’s pre-gold/blue team X-Men & the Starjammers iteration, Morrison’s & Quitely’s New X-Men, etc). Power Rangers. OR,

    2) If you’re going to be on a team of individuals, just wear whatever you wear regularly and don’t sweat a team logo. JLA, JSA, Doom Patrol, The Champions, The Defenders, The Authority, Planetary, LoEG, The Avengers, Watchmen’s Minutemen & Crimebusters, etc. None of those teams push team logos onto their completely different costumes. They just show up and work together. OR,

    3) Design a team uniform template that allows for a variation on a theme; X-Men again, Alpha Flight, Gen 13, Green Lantern Corps, Legion of Superheroes, Superman Family, Bat Family, Flash Family, Wonder Woman Family, basically ALL THE FAMILIES of costumes [good grief]).

    Unless you can put a team insignia on a belt buckle or in a space designated for it (in KF’s instance, the circle on his shoulders are part of the Brett Booth design, so technically the circle the T sits in isn’t a new element to the costume), then don’t try and shoehorn it in. I would argue the Flash insignia on KF’s shoulder was bad placement to start with, so the T in this design suffers a similar fate.

    Seeing as the Teen Titans are teenagers, they should all probably get their own individual styles to match their voices (*SIGH* and their superhero lineage, of course), as they always have, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them get a team uniform akin to Ilias Kyriazis’s attempts from a couple months’ back.

  10. Just don’t like it. The original Kid Flash costume is arguably the best in comics.Ever. Maybe Neil Adam’s Angel is better, but not by much.

  11. I completely disagree with Felix, I like it because it is a simple costume. Although that might only be in comparision to the standard NuDC “extra lines everywhere” look that Supes, Batman etc have.

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