Is It A Bird, Is It A Plane, Is It A New Super-Costume?: an article by: GF Willmetts,

January 25, 2018 | By | Reply More

For the 1000th edition of ‘Action Comics’, Superman has a new costume drawn by Jim Lee. You can see a picture below and the full story from DC Comics in the link below:-


Er…what’s the difference? It’s only gone back to the original version. Well, all right, the cuffs trim is now two-ringlets but hardly significant. Superman has his pants back as we British would say. As ‘pants’ means ‘trousers’ in America, for the sake of words, let’s mutually call them ‘trunks’. After all, this is the traditional super-hero costume, shared by both Superman and Batman and then went into variation for all super-heroes. There was a change in colour and symbols to tell them apart. For many, there was also an absence of cloak, which is sensible because you do have to wonder why their opponents don’t just trap them by it.

The so-called zoot-suit is designed to resemble the type of costume a wrestler or athlete would wear for combat. Being skin-tight also made it easier for the artists to draw repetitively in comicbook panels and practical to hide under civilian garb, although no one explains how the boots are hidden. All in the simplicity of line and instantly recognisable.

There have been modifications over the years. The most obvious with Superman was the change in the ‘S’ symbol on his chest. The original 1938 version wasn’t particularly enticing and the 1950s version gave it a tidy make-over.

Have a look at http://www.metropolisplus.com/superman/ if you want to see how the ‘S; evolved. I was surprised how even this slowly evolved when I reads through that link. It’s hardly surprisingly that it became more stylised over the years. From the 1978 ‘Superman’ film, the ‘S’ no longer necessarily represented Superman but the Kryptonian House Of El, the family name and carried over into the comicbooks. Mind you, looking for the Krypton language on-line, https://www.omniglot.com/conscripts/kryptonian.php , you do have to wonder where the ‘S’ came from.

A small detail but only pointed out as the most significant change in Superman’s costume for years. Well, until he lost his trunks in 2011 in one of the DC Universe make-overs. Superman wasn’t the only one with such a change. Green Lantern had a similar make-over. Batman, too, although his were more a matter of making his trunks the same colour as his leggings and dropping the lines. Trunks were out. Too retro. I’m not going to draw comparisons to DC Comics competition, that can be done for a different time.

We’ll forget the complete costume changeovers as they didn’t really last very long but made great headlines for the media and I doubt if many of us can even remember them in the first place. The trunkless version still held over for the Henry Cavill starring Superman films but a lot of the super-hero zootsuits have had massive changeovers. What works well on a comicbook page doesn’t always translate well onto an adult physique, although cosplayers show it’s more to do with fabric choices. There are all sorts of texture changes, including having the Superman symbol embossed into the fabric to give texture. Mind you, that could only be seen in enlargement. Everyone, even in films, wants to make their mark with the costume.

What is forgotten is that the Superman costume is iconic and instantly recognisable. Hardly surprising as it was the first with a cape. I have to add that detail as Lee Falk’s ‘The Phantom’ predates him and Batman with trunks by two years in 1936. The fact that the original Superman costume has returned shouldn’t be surprising but calling it a ‘new’ by Jim Lee is. Maybe he’s removed the logo off the back of Superman’s cape? Surely, it would have made more sense to just say, ‘Superman is dressed as he is remembered’. Well, that is until another costume change is needed for the news.

© GF Willmetts 2018



Category: Comics, Superheroes

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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