In Wonder Woman #600, which came out today, writer J. Michael Straczynski , blew up 69 years of continuity with a new origin story in which Diana was raised in an urban environment rather than on Paradise Island, but this radical re-imagining of the Wonder Woman mythos has not stirred up nearly as much controversy (at least not yet) as the character’s new costume designed by Jim Lee.
Wonder Woman, who was created in the midst of the Second World War, had a costume that Jim Lee described to the New York Times as “the American Flag brought to life.” Over the years the costume and the figure of Wonder Woman herself changed. The Amazon Princess’s muscles and breasts both gained considerably in prominence, while those star-spangled blue shorts shrunk to the point where intimate shaving was almost certainly required. The eagle breastplate was replaced by a stylized double “W” motif, but the character was always recognizable, with the possible exception of a short-lived excursion into mod fashions in the swinging sixties.
There’s a definite late 80s, early 90s feel to the new design with its tight black leggings and its leather bolero jacket with pushed-up sleeves. One might think that the fanboys would be pleased that the ample cleavage that Wonder Woman developed in the late 20th Century was maintained in the new get-up, but the loss of those star-spangled shorts and the absence of overt American flag references evidently touched a patriotic nerve. The comic boards are buzzing with comments about Wonder Woman’s new costume and most of them appear to be negative.
Just as her new costume makes a lot more sense for an action hero who’s going to have to engage in plenty of knock down, drag out fights to regain her homeland from the mysterious forces that conquered it, so the new direction in which JMS is taking the character and her attendant mythology appears to be necessary to rejuvenate a franchise that in Straczynski’s phrase had become “ossified” over its nearly seven decades of existence.