Monday, August 16, 2010
New Batman Costume is Bat-tastic and Manly
DC has released their November Solicits, with the information for Batman, Inc. Already we know that it has Bruce Wayne, back from his journey through time and merchandise-ready period costumes, franchising his identity out around the world. I have mixed feelings about this; as a general rule I don't like when multiple characters share a superhero identity, since it dilutes the importance of the main guy. Batman is a unique case because he's the result of Bruce Wayne toiling constantly to become the perfect weapon against crime, and Grant Morrison's own stories have shown that any attempts to replace him are either mixed at best ( Dick Grayson ) or catastrophic ( the new Red Hood, the three Bat-Cops, the future Damien who sells Gotham to Satan, etc. ). However, most of Morrison's stories on Batman have been utterly stellar, so I'll suspend judgment until the final product arrives.
What I can judge is the new look for the Bat-Suit, as shown on the covers by Yanick Paquette and Andy Kubert. Fortunately, it's quite a good look. It's still unmistakably Batman, but the little details have been refined and modernized. For one thing, the underoos are finally gone-- briefs over leggings are an obnoxious relic of the circus strongman roots of superheroes, and there was no reason Batman should have kept wearing them for so many decades. The darker swaths of fabric on the sides of the suit are an effective replacement, and give the look more texture, like it's an actual suit of armor instead of body paint ( since Batman is not bulletproof, it's good that we see him wearing some protection ). Ribbing on the boots and gloves has a similar effect, with the same success. And the yellow Bat-emblem returns after being simply a black pattern for years-- normally I'd prefer the original shirt, but since Batman's trying to make himself a brand, the logo takes on extra importance.
Time will tell if this design endures; unfortunately, complex costumes tend not to last. The X-Men stopped wearing leather to regress to colorful spandex, most of the Ultimates started wearing tights ( something they had never done before in that universe ) when Millar and Hitch left, and many characters in Brian Michael Bendis' Avengers have returned to their 70's looks ( not coincidentally, the era when Bendis started reading Marvel ). It's likely that Batman will be back in his undreroos in the near future, because " iconic " too often means " simplistic and bland ". But here's hoping he rocks the new look for a while.