Yesterday, we pleaded with you to keep an open mind about the upcoming DC Universe reboot, and reminded you that as comic fans, we need to put away our fangs and judge the quality of the books on their stories. That does not mean, however, that we’re not opinionated on the Jim Lee redesigned costumes we’ve seen on the Justice League of America #1 cover. And our opinion is holy crap, these costumes suck.
There are just too many attempts to create small, unified changes. Notice how everyone who doesn’t have a cowl has that same v shaped collar? Or how a lot of the costume have weird piping/raised bits on them? According to Lee, this was done to make the characters more recognizable and marketable; a statement which makes no fucking sense, because everyone who has been born already knows what Superman and Batman look like. Anyways, let’s take a look one on one at each character on the cover.
The most obvious change, and surprisingly the one that we should all be excited about. Fans have been clamoring for an updated Superman design for years, but we’ve never quite gotten it. Lee’s attempt extends the sleeves to cover his wrists more and gives them a red piping tip, extends his neckline to the V shaped collar and also gives it a red collar, and does away with the red underoos. The S shield is also supposedly different, being smaller and more stylized, but I’m more akin to think that’s Lee’s own polish on the shield. My biggest problem is this costume looks like it’s lost the exciting, swashbuckling feel of the classic. With the added neck and simple colors, it feels more like a military uniform than a costume, which isn’t a feel that Superman should be going for.
Okay, so what has been changed about Aquaman’s costume? Not a damn thing. I guess the least known and respected character on the cover is the most marketable and recognizable? He is, however, noticeably younger than his last few appearances.
This is a weird one. Lee’s previous redesign, done less than a year ago, was accepted with a near violent fervor; fans loved it. It gave Diana pants, a sensible top, and a cool jacket that had purpose. Unfortunately, with the new costume they’ve removed the straps that made the top sensible in favor of a ridiculous amount of cleavage (like 3/4 of her boobs are exposed, how the hell is that practical?), and most criminally removes the Gold and Blue colors from her ensemble. It’s so drastic a change, I seriously wonder if this is actually Diana and not Donna Troy, who has also been on the JLA as of late. Only time will tell.
Again, mostly the same, though Hal does look notably younger. There’s three things that bug me about this: first off, the gun penis. Yes, everyone has mentioned it. I see it too. Ha ha. Secondly, his power ring: much like Superman’s eyes (seriously, go back and look), Hal’s ring isn’t visible. Artist error? Or is the GLC no longer using rings post-Flashpoint? Finally, the shoulders have some kind of a strange, raised shoulder detail on them. I’m…not sure what these are meant to accomplish. They don’t appear to offer any kind of vital protection, they’re just weird, non-stylish things. They’re clearly meant to be raised, as they appear to have the same weight as Hal’s GL logo (whcih is now revamped to be backlit, in line with the movie, you’ll notice).
First off, the yellow oval, reintroduced after The Return of Bruce Wayne to make Dick and Bruce easily distinguishable, is gone once again in favor of the classic, simple black bat symbol; so far as I’m concerned, this is a damning sign that Dick’s no longer Batman post-Flashpoint. Is he back as Nightwing? We can only hope. Is he de-aged and Robin again? Jesus Christ, I hope not; if Dick’s Robin again, than 3 great characters (Jason Todd, Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown) are all but written out of the annals of history. The costume is a mish-mash of the typical costume and the Batman Inc. costume which Bruce wore after his return, but the left arm on this outfit really, really bugs me. It looks like it’s supposed to resemble the other arm, but it has a way heavier, almost gauntlet-like detail to it. I know that they’re moving the costume to resemble the Dark Knight Saga costumes now, giving him gloves with bracers like in the films, but these don’t seem to tbe the case.
I really don’t know what the hell is going on with this. Cyborg had a fantastic design. He was sleek, simple, clearly mechanical and yet still predominantly human. He was easily recognizable, beloved by the fans, and a classic character. Now he’s built like a tank. Strange mechanical doo-dads jut out of every angle for no discernible reason. He’s not built like a cyborg anymore, he’s built like a human head rammed into an old Tandy computer.
Before we go any further: this Flash has blue eyes, so yes, the Flash on the JLA #1 cover is Barry Allen. By far, this is the worst offender, even though arguably the least has been done to the costume in theory. All we can see added is a detail to the cowl which resembles lightning bolts running across the temple, and a chin covering added to the front. Why in the blue hell was this necessary? The point of Flash’s costume is that he’s a runner. His outfit has to be sleek and simple, and has been for decades. These additions take a memorable, perfect costume and given it nonsensical additions for no reason at all.
Ultimately, this is the key problem with every costume here: Jim Lee has never heard of the phrase “less is more”. A premier artist of the 90s, he made his bread and butter on taking existing costumes and tacking on what was considered “cool”, but is this really the right attitude to have? With a company rebooting and rushing headfirst into the future, aiming to be on top of the game, fresh and original, should the designs really mimic those of two decades ago? If there is any solace we can find here, it is another comics tradition: rotating artists. It’s unlikely that many of these costume alterations will survive beyond the first changing of artists.