This is why we can’t have nice things: Wonder Woman’s new costume.
[This article was originally posted at my blog Love is the Slug]
To say I am a fan of Wonder Woman is a pretty massive understatement. It’s like saying “Courtney Love has dabbled in drugs” or “”that Aretha Franklin has a pretty good voice, doesn’t she?” I’ve loved the Amazing Amazon since I was 4 years old and first gazed upon the stunningly beautiful Lynda Carter who personified her so perfectly in the iconic 1970s TV show. My step-brother likes to tell the story that he knew I was gay when he once commented “Wonder Woman has nice boobs” while watching the show with me and I bellowed back “DON’T TALK ABOUT WONDER WOMAN LIKE THAT!!!” But I loved her for more than the trivial reasons one might imagine a burgeoning fag would love her. It wasn’t just her gorgeous hair or her fabulous accessories or, as on the TV show, the spin that allowed her to transform from everyday to amazing. I loved her because she symbolized strength and righteousness and peace and equality – the things she fought for both on the TV show and in the comics that I soon began to devour after being introduced to her via the television. As a wee, sickly child I wanted to be able to spin around and transform into someone incredible who fought crime, lifted up the oppressed and “changed their minds and changed the world”, as the theme song so funkily put it. And yeah, okay, I dug the hell out of her costume. I currently have 4 images of her tattooed on my right arm as part of a sleeve in progress, so clearly, the visual presentation of Wonder Woman has a teensy tiny bit of resonance for me.
Since her introduction to the world in 1941, Wonder Woman has worn some variation of her iconic, instantly recognizable star spangled costume – except for a couple of stints in a white jumpsuit and a really horrible period where she wore a pair of cycling shorts, a cropped jacket and a bra. I was thankfully taking a break from comics during that dark era. But hey, guess which incarnations of her costume didn’t stick around for long? You guessed it. And there’s been lots of talk and debate about the costume – everything from it being sexist and exploitative to to it being totally unrealistic for someone to wear in combat. But hi, how on earth is Wonder Woman realistic in any way?! She’s from a hidden island full of immortal amazon women! She was made from clay by her mother and given life and powers by the gods of the Greek pantheon!!! SHE CAN FLY!!! She is not real. Sadly. And you know what? When Lynda Carter portrayed her on TV she managed to wear that costume with so much dignity and made it as natural as if she were wearing jeans and a t-shirt. The costume, whether you like it or not, is a huge part of Wonder Woman’s icon status. So you can imagine how I felt when I read that it would be changed (again) as of issue #600.
And then you can imagine how I felt when I actually saw it:
Are? You? Shitting? Me? THIS is the new iconic costume for the new direction Wonder Woman is being taken in?!?! Because of course, gentle readers, a new costume for a female hero always signals a Major Change in Her Storyline. And since writers cannot seem to stop fucking with Wonder Woman’s origin, storyline and general life as a character, she gets tweaked once again to boost flagging sales instead of realizing that the spectacular lack of consistency she’s experienced in her 600 issues might have ANYTHING to do with it. But you know, I can handle some new plot devices and some attempts at changing things up in her storyline if it means fresh, exciting stories and maybe more people buying the book.
But THIS?! This weak-ass costume change?! It looks like something that would’ve been designed for an alternate-reality version of the X-Men’s Jubilee circa 1995!!! It looks like a fun entry from the Project Rooftop Wonder Woman Wardrobe War contest!! She looks generic!! She’s from central superhero casting!!! The worst part of it, though, is that this costume is revealed in a story featured alongside several short stories and full-page images for the gala 600th issue. Up until that point the comic is a fan’s dream – full of gorgeous images rendered by fantastic artists like Phil Jimenez and Nicola Scott and stories about how heroic, important and beloved Wonder Woman is by the likes of Gail Simone and Louise Simonson. It seems like such a weird disconnect. Until you realize it may all be a set-up for the (decades in development, most likely doomed) movie that may or may not happen in 2013. Sigh. And as much as I once thought I’d love to see a big screen version of Princess Diana kicking some villainous butt, the movie industry has not done so well by female heroes. I think I’d rather not see that potentially Supegirl/Catwoman-esque nightmare come to fruition.
But in the end, I have a feeling history will win out. These variations on her costume have never stuck around long. No matter how sales of the book may do or how often her origin gets tweaked and reconfigured, people want to see Wonder Woman looking like, well, Wonder Woman. I have a feeling she’ll be back in her star-spangled bathing suit in the near future. And we’ll be able to shunt this costume aside into a bin to rest among other such failed makeover ideas like “Loonatics Unleashed”.