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The Brawny Classical Grandeur of Wonder Woman

Written by: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer


 Source: New York Times

I guess it was bound to happen: Wonder Woman got a makeover.

The New York Times reports that in issue 600 of the long-running series, Diana Prince will receive a sleeker costume that takes her out of the traditional bathing suit she’s worn for years. In its place, the Amazon warrior will get slacks, boots and a leather jacket with the sleeves rolled up.

The look is consistent with the spit-and-polishes given to superhero costumes in many movies, most notably the X-Men franchise. The brass over at DC have also updated Diana’s backstory – and lowered it a few octaves in tone. From the NY Times story:

In the reimagining of her story, Wonder Woman, instead of growing up on Paradise Island with her mother, Queen Hippolyta, and her Amazon sisters, is smuggled out as a baby when unknown forces destroy her home and slaughter its inhabitants.

Fair enough. Wonder Woman remains one of their most durable properties, and they’re trying to keep relevant a character who, despite some great writing, has always looked so dang goofy on the surface.

Naturally, I don’t agree with the new look or the new direction for her origin, but not because I prefer Wonder Woman to be light and fun. On the contrary, I think she’s one of the darkest heroes in the DCU.

No foolin’. When I think of the DCU and the JLA, I think of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, and I can’t help but think of those three characters and how their personal philosophies relate to each other. To wit:

Superman tries to inspire others to do good.

Batman tries to frighten others into doing good.

Wonder Woman will just fuckin’ kill you.

The events of Infinie Crisis were largely set into motion because Wonder Woman killed someone, and her martial nature also put her in direct conflict with Superman in the alternate history seen in Kingdom Come. Speaking of Kingdom Come, the great comic artist Alex Ross imagined a memorably alternate look for Wonder Woman that calls upon her classical history. Strangely enough, I can’t find a drawing of it, but there are lots of action figures of the costume.

Ross’ armor recalls Diana’s roots in Greek myth to great effect, and if I were considering a redesign for Wonder Woman’s costume, I’d go that way, too. Heck, if you look back at the standard battle dress for a hero of that era, you’ll see a very similar look. Check out this striking portrait of a classical superhero, Achilles:


Take note of the armored kilt-skirt, breastplate and wristbands. He's even wearing a cape!

On a recent live taping of the Comics on Comics radio show, comic-book luminaries Paul Dini and Javier Grillo-Marxuach both spoke briefly about Wonder Woman, and Marxuach suggested that if he were directing a Wonder Woman movie, he’d dig into her classical roots, going so far as to portray her as physically larger than both Superman and Batman – a choice I applaud.

So to the guys at DC Comics, I’ll offer this: There’s no need to put Diana Prince in black leather. If you go back to her Greek roots, she’s badass enough for any universe.

 

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Author: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer

Robert J. Peterson is a writer and web developer living in Los Angeles. A Tennessee native, he graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He’s written for newspapers and websites all over the country, including the Marin Independent Journal, the Telluride Daily Planet, CC2KOnline.com, Offscreen, and Geekscape.net. He co-hosts the podcasts Make It So and Hiram’s Lodge. He’s appeared as a pop-culture guru on the web talk shows Comics on Comics, The Fanbase Press Week In Review, Collider Heroes, ScreenJunkies TV Fights, and Fandom Planet. He’s the founder of California Coldblood Books.

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