Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Have Yourself A Gaudy Little Christmas


Every superhero's best foot forward is their costume.

And you're about to get a look at a costume that took its wearer a huge step backward.

Presenting the not so wonderful...


Wonder Man


Designed by editor Mark Gruenwald, writer Steve Englehart and artist Al Milgrom, this new look for Wonder Man premiered in West Coast Avengers #12--to a resounding "thud." Readers weren't shy about offering their opinions:
"I have to tell you that I found Wonder Man's new costume so visually repugnant that it vastly decreased my enjoyment of the entire issue. It looks like an Adam Strange reject. Realize you made a mistake and correct it soon."

"I just had to write and tell you a terrible nightmare I had. Seems that Wonder Man somehow lost his goggles, and his hair changed color... then all of a sudden all hell broke loose. He was parading around in a costume that looked like the Vision's put through a blender."

"Wonder Man's costume looks like Alicia Masters found some scrap material and made a costume out of it with Daredevil's help."

"Wonder Man's costume is the worst yet."

"We the undersigned, believe that the costume now worn by Wonder Man is the greatest example of bad taste that has ever poxed the printed page. ... Please send the current costume to a Salvation Army thrift store, where it can be displayed as a second rate, hackneyed, tasteless example of pseudo-stylish men's wear." (signed by 18 people from Columbus, OH)

And what seemed like the general consensus:

"...he is beginning to look like a walking Christmas tree!"
You'll notice, however, that the characters naturally go ga-ga over it:



Sigh. Yes, those rocket tubes on the back--a nice, explosive target that any villain could ever wish for. I wonder if the inspiration for them came from this guy?



I don't know how Wonder Man's back jets keep from running out of fuel any more than his old belt jets did. And what he so smugly seems to forget is that his invulnerable "uh" isn't protected by an invulnerable costume. He'll be arrested for mooning after every battle.  Hopefully Reed Richards had a few unstable molecules lying around for a costume emergency.

The rationale for Wonder Man's new look was explained this way:
  • The old costumes--the jump suit and the bush jacket--looked like things a guy who wasn't serious about being an Avenger would wear;
  • Simon is a rising Hollywood star, so he would want a Hollywood version of a super hero outfit--something to put him center stage;
  • It does have the same colors as his brother's (Vision's) well-beloved costume.
It took twelve more issues--a full year--before Marvel finally came around and 86ed the costume, in a few very abrupt panels at the end of a battle:




The jets on the back moved down to being belt jets again--and Simon spiked his hair to complete his new look. And readers breathed a sigh of relief that the long Christmas season was finally over.

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