Since the first reveal of the DC Reboot, I've been pretty vocal about disliking most of the newly redesigned costumes. Since I can barely draw a believable stick figure, though, I haven't been able to do much in terms of providing an alternative. Fortunately, Dresden Codak
creator Aaron Diaz
has no such limitations, and has taken it upon himself to dream up "Five Essential Character Redesigns"
for his blog
Check out his redesigned takes on Starfire, Wonder Woman
as well as Marvel's Dr. Strange
and Ms. Marvel
, along with my commentary, after the cut!
First up, one of the most... well, let's just say "talked-about" characters of the reboot, Starfire:
"I went for the simple route and took some notes from the cartoon (notably the skirt). I wanted to make sure it kept the bubbly, innocent feeling of the character while also hinting at some power (with the exposed arms here). The overall effect is meant to convey someone who's tough, cheerful and comfortable flying around in the air."
I have to say, I love
this redesign. Not only does it make her more recognizable right off the bat to the millions (and millions
) of people who have fond memories of the Teen Titans
cartoon, but the '60s mod style dress is a much better fit for the character than the various purple harness swimsuits she's been saddled with since she was created. The miniskirt and boots even add just the right touch of sexiness, without veering into the overt tawdry style that she's been rocking lately.
Next up, a new take on Dr. Strange:
"Two parts Vincent Price, one part Christopher Lee and one part Dr. Orpheus, this Dr. Strange is still magical, but with a more coherent design direction."
This actually isn't too far off from a design Dr. Strange sported back in the '90s, but with more muted colors (and an ascot) that give him a decidedly Victorian feel. I'm a big fan of Strange's traditional costume and its high-collar-to-end-all-high-collars, and while this doesn't quite
say "super-hero" to me, it's definitely a look I could get behind for the sort of magical adventures he was up to in Emma Rios and Mark Waid's Strange
For another Marvel redesign, Diaz takes on Ms. Marvel:
"Since her origins are ostensibly tied with Captain Marvel, I decided to go a route that's more along the lines of the Ultimate Marvel version of that character, where her abilities come from alien technology rather than vague space magic. The notion that she's, for example, permanently bound with this technology that she doesn't fully understand can make for some interesting stories. There can be some potential with this character again with just a little bit of tweaking."
I like Ms. Marvel's regular suit quite a bit -- as my affection for Iron Fist and DC's Captain Marvel proves, you throw a sash on a super-hero and I'm pretty much sold. As Diaz points out, however, it's basically just Phoenix's costume (one of the all-time greats) made skimpier, with a different logo slapped on the chest. Of course, I also like Captain Marvel's classic fin-helmet look, and since Steve McNiven's Ultimate version was a beautiful and very underused design, I'd definitely like to see a fresh take on it, and Ms. Marvel would be a good character to sport it.
For a character whose fashion choices have provoked more discussion than just about anyone's, Diaz takes on Wonder Woman:
"One part Thor, three parts Xena. I'd push the mythological angle further. Just as nobody thinks of Thor as 'Superman with a hamme'" I don't want Wonder Woman to be 'girl Superman,' as she's sometimes seen. I've also tweaked her origin slightly, making her a more literal "statue come to life." This isn't as extreme as it seems: in regular canon, Wonder Woman's origin was that she was formed out of clay by the queen of the Amazons, and imbued with the powers of the Greek Gods. This, I think offers more story possibilities if she's less literally human, physically. Her personality would remain the same (nothing more fun than the perspective of an Amazon in the modern world), but we now have an added Pinnochio-style layer.
The costume change is mostly conservative. Because of the strong fetish associations (and overall impracticality for a fighting Amazon), I've removed the lasso in favor of more traditional Greek weapons. The overall effect is intended to push Wonder Woman's core themes further while making her also stand out as more than just 'the female superhero.'"
I'm not quite sold on the idea of literalizing the statue-come-to-life aspect of her character, but as far as the costume itself goes, I absolutely love it. Keeping the more recognizable elements of her costume, but shifting the blue to a toga and giving her a slightly more armored but still simplified look is pretty close to being perfect.
Finally, Diaz takes a shot at a complete overhaul of Superman:
"Two parts Martian Manhunter and Ten parts Fleischer Superman. 'Superman: the Man of Tomorrow, Strange Visitor from Another World.' I really want to push that. First off, Kryptonians should actually look like aliens and not white people. Here I have Kal-El from a race of beings whose technology and biology are long since indistinguishable (Clarke-esque space gods, you know the type). They're strange to our mortal eyes but mean well. I'd keep the "destroyed planet" origin but more heavily emphasize the "non-interference" part of Superman's mission statement.
If you'll remember from the 70s movie, his father Jor-El told him he was forbidden to interfere with the course of human history, but when you think about it, that's kind of vague. What I've done is added a Star Trek or Uatu the Watcher kind of prime directive to all advanced species: Kal-El can't let people know that he's an alien, nor can he openly interact with them using advanced technology. Still, he's a compassionate guy and wants to help, so he takes the form of 'Superman' to inspire the mortals in a constructive way. Also, the notion that he can take on different forms means that the Clark Kent secret identity need not be as bad as it currently is.
The costume redesign holds to the basic themes but makes it a little more working class. The buttons at the top are meant to invoke overalls, and the sleeves are cut a little higher for someone working with their hands. I've removed the spandex and gone with looser fitting slacks, while keeping a short cape and boots, since he's still an adventurer.
Overall I want to evoke a classic Superman feel while making it a little more modern in its exploration of the sci fi themes. He's still basically the same guy: an alien from another world looking to fight injustice, but without the overt patriotism and a quirkier execution of the secret identity."
The idea of making Kryptonians into a non-humanoid race is something that John Byrne initially wanted to do the last
time Superman got a relaunch, after Crisis on Infinite Earths
, with rocket that shot him to Earth "reprogramming" his appearance to match the members of the dominant species who found him. DC nixed the idea, but Diaz seems to be a fan. Personally, I'm of the mind that emphasizing the alien aspect takes away from what makes Superman great, but I suppose the world don't move to the beat of just one drum.
As for the costume itself, well, I'm firmly in the pro-trunks camp, but I still think this is great. The combination of super-hero and pulp adventurer fits Superman perfectly, and the shortened sleeves give a "rolled up" effect that makes him look ready for action. If this was the new look for Superman, I'd be totally happy with it.
For more from Diaz, including additional commentary and an older redesign of Batman
that I'm devoutly opposed to, check out his blog!
(via Luke Herr