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Media and fans (and Lynda Carter) react to Wonder Woman makeover

by  in Comic News Comment

When DC Comics revealed the new costume, and story direction, for Wonder Woman yesterday afternoon, the publisher set off a firestorm of media coverage and fan reaction. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it’s not all positive. Not by a longshot.

In fact, some of the responses to our initial post about Jim Lee’s retro-’90s redesign — complete with leather jacket, shoulder pads and choker — and J. Michael Straczynski’s origin overhaul seem downright glowing when compared to, say, Nikki Finke’s assessment.

Under the headline “DC Comics Has Ruined Wonder Woman!” the Hollywood-industry blogger wrote: “Of course, it took a bunch of men to ruin her. Look at the new costume design by DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee below: she looks ready for Goth Day at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. (Shame on Diane Nelson, the head of DC Entertainment, for allowing this to happen. And for not finding a talented woman writer to update the icon’s saga.) Here’s the announcement about the dumbass stuff that DC Comics is doing to her. So let me start the campaign: FREE WONDER WOMAN!” Still, Finke managed to score “exclusive” Wonder Woman art by Don Kramer (a revised version of the previously released cover for September’s Issue 603).

The Awl’s Maura Johnston is only slightly more kind than Finke, briefly noting the new costume in a post titled, “DC Comics Starves Wonder Woman, Then Drags Her To Hot Topic”: “So the overall vibe given off by her is darker, more serious, ‘designed to be taken seriously as a warrior’ — not to mention, more ready to be franchised into a tie-in clothing line for similarly disaffected female fans.”

At New York magazine’s Vulture blog, Willa Paskin boldly endorses the new outfit, characterizing the “overall effect” as “fairly badass, and nicely common sense: It really is much easier to focus on fighting crime when one isn’t worrying about accidentally flashing lady parts.”

Speaking to The New York Times, which unveiled the new look, Straczynski explained he wanted “to toughen her up, and give her a modern sensibility,” adding, “What woman only wears only one outfit for 60-plus years?” (The latter statement is as inaccurate as it is cringe-worthy, as the newspaper’s costume slide show demonstrates.)

“Modern”? National Public Radio’s Glen Weldon begs to differ: “Merciful Zeus, the jacket. […] Long ago, in the benighted (EXTREEEME!) ’90s, DC superheroes and leather jackets went together like Sean Penn and Madonna before Shanghai Surprise. They were the Tamogachis of the spandex set.”

However, actress Lynda Carter, whom a vast majority of people envision when (and if) they think of Wonder Woman, likes the new ensemble. Really.

“I think it will take time for people to get over not seeing a lot of leg,” she told ABC News. “[But] I think it’s going to be very sexy and it’s new and I love the little cap sleeve. You know, she’s a hip girl. […] “I think Wonder Woman has a mind of her own. And I think she was just kind of ready for something new. She’s got an attitude and if this is the new thing that she wants to wear, well, by God, she’s going to wear it. And I like that. And I hope that in the story someone mentions, where’s the old one? And she says, get over it!”

Sure, Wonder Woman may embrace change, but that’s not exactly something comic-book fans are known for. A perusal of the 389 comments in this Comic Book Resources thread reveals mixed reactions to the storyline — they range from “this sounds incredible” to “This is really weird” to “Hi, I’m J. Michael Stracynski. I ruined Spider-man. Who is next?” — and largely negative reviews for the costume.

Comments run in a similar veing at the DC Universe blog, where my favorite remark is, “This had BETTER freakin’ end with Steve Trevor stepping out of the shower and it’s all a dream.” There and elsewhere, the occasional person pops up to assure displeased fans that Wonder Woman’s new duds are only temporary.

But DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio indicates the costume may be around for a while. “If you take a half step back is there enough of Wonder Woman [in the new costume],” he told the New York Daily News. “It really captures some many of the iconic imagery associated character, the tiara, the bracelets, the bustier, and the belt. We’re really hoping it sticks.”