It is I, Charlie! Freshly escaped from the negative zone known as the Ziggurat dungeon, this time by making out with a spider-queen, growing some extra eyes and limbs, dying, then chest-bursting out of a mutated arachnid version of myself with all-new powers (legit spider-man story, look it up).
Superhero comics have long tried to convince the comic loving public of the permanence of their major changes (“The universe you know is GONE”, “This death is PERMANENT!”, “Our teleporting dog actually used to be a person who free-based some crystal farts on the moon!” etc). This is, of course, in vain as several decades of revivals, ret-cons and re-designs have made all but the most optimistic (and possibly delusional?) of us give up hope on our favourite changes. The impermanence isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s just kind of annoying- even though the ability to go back and edit mistakes within thirty days is one of the comic book genre’s most defining traits.
Now that we’ve moved that out of the way… Can someone tell me why people freak the funk out whenever the ‘Big 2′ costume re-designs roll around? It’s kind of like spitting on your parents for giving you Christmas presents wrapped in paper you didn’t like (However, this is totally acceptable behaviour if they give you socks. Just sayin’).
When you think about it, costumes in comic books are kind of like the icing on the cake. Often the symbolic icing, but still the icing nonetheless. They aren’t what make our characters the characters we love. As we’ve seen throughout the ‘Marvel’ timeline, the web-sprinkled arachnid on your chest does not make you Spider-man.
Comics have always had a sort of ‘progressive’ blood running through them. They have pushed the boundaries of both art and literature while simultaneously sitting on the fringes of the public eye. With progress comes change, and with change comes new horizons and stories to come. Without the progress, comics effectively become an Ouroboros, constantly spewing and consuming the same ideas. The future creators of these comics see this pattern and then bring it with them into the industry, thus starting the cycle all over again. It’s a recipe for one hell of a stagnant industry and it needs to stop.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of the new Wonder Woman/Superman costumes. Frankly, I’m of the opinion that there’s nothing heroic about a T-shirt and jeans. As for our favourite Amazon, you better not be lady-bonering for ‘Wolverine’. Retractable claws only belong on cats and the Canucklehead. Anything else is kind of ‘Diet Coke’ by comparison to the real thing (It sucks and you know it!). But you know what?? I’ll accept the costumes. Hell, I might even buy the issues if I like them enough. Because with or without the costume, with or without the dumb loin-triangle, a good story is a good story.*
So why are people tripping balls? Maybe the ‘small but vocal’ minority are confusing the icing for the cake. When the vast majority of us go out on our day jobs, no one goes out of their way to critique the battle leather we’ve donned. More importantly, those of us who aren’t exactly into the new costumes should remember that these designs aren’t for us.
They aren’t for the people who are freaking out and immediately hitting the panic button hoping for a rewind back to 1999 (looking at you, whiny 90’s artist Erik Larsen!). The designs are for the newer generation of comic book readers pulsing through the ranks. The new designs are there for the guys who want to look up to a peer, not an alien. They are for the little Muslim girl who is growing up without a pop culture role model in a society that both fears and hates her.
The designs are for the parents who FINALLY have a book they can hand to their child without fear of having to explain what a ‘camel toe’ is, or why they don’t look a certain way.
Ultimately the costumes will pass, and that’s a good thing. The important things, the things that should stick around from any costume designs, are what we learn from them, and essentially, what we can do to make the next costume better. Spider-Woman’s combat gear is great and all, but there will be other iterations of her costume and hopefully they’ll be a step in the right direction.
Guys, it’s a comic book costume. If you don’t like it, wait ten issues, and check out the next one.
At one point, Charlie made a deal with Mephisto to save his dying cat’s life. He is now forced to live in a timeline where he never adopted the thing. He is much happier now. Follow him on his cat-hating twitter handle: @Charlietron3000