Wonder Woman Celebrates 600 Issues By Putting On Pants

DC Comics character and feminist icon Wonder Woman–who graced the first stand-alone issue of Ms.–has been revamped for the first time in 69 years. She’s traded in her all-American leotard for more practical attire: badass jacket, red bustier, black leggings and motorcycle boots.

This is exciting, and not just because it will now be much easier for real-life women to go as Wonder Woman for Halloween.

This be-pantsed incarnation is part of a re-imagining of Wonder Woman by writer J. Michael Straczynski. The woman superhero’s comics have never sold as well as those of Superman or Batman, but Straczynski intends to change that:

Wonder Woman is a strong, dynamic, vibrant character who should be selling in the top 20, and I’m going to do all I can to get her there.

Artist Jim Lee designed the new look, telling The New York Times:

When these characters become so branded that you can’t change things, they become ossified.

A woman wearing pants isn’t controversial these days unless she happens to be Wonder Woman. At Huffington Post, bloggers Diana Nguyen and Jen Wang of Disgrasian were astonished:

It’s like seeing Lady Gaga in pants. It’s like seeing the Queen of England in pants. It’s like you forgot pants existed in her Amazonian universe. It’s as though they were as invisible as her airplane.

Naturally, some traditional comic fanboys are unhappy with the change. At Entertainment Today:

GRRRR. I am ALL for updating classic comic book characters to give them a new look for a new time but I am really not feeling this outfit…. When I was a wee lad, my first love was Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman on the hit 1970′s live-action TV series of the same name. … To me, she seemed like the ideal wife. …

Gee, dude, sorry Wonder Woman won’t look like your ideal wife anymore. But the new Wonder Woman might be coming to a theater near you:

Given the hope that the character will one day have her own international film franchise (a feature has long been gestating at Warner Entertainment, DC’s parent company), one test of the design was to imagine how it would look standing next to, say, Batman’s politically neutral ensemble. “The original costume was the American flag brought to life,” Mr. Lee said. “This one is a little more universal.”

The entire relaunch seems to be about making Wonder Woman more accessible for a broader audience. If she isn’t a walking American flag, she’s easier to market in other countries. And if she’s in pants, she’s potentially more appealing to women comic fans–the press release describes the outfit as partially an answer to female fans who’ve asked how she fights without pockets or much clothing. Marketing comics to women is still something of a novel concept, but one whose time has more than come.

UPDATE: Gloria Steinem weighed in on the new Wonder Woman in comments to the Associated Press.

As in the late ’60s when Wonder Woman creators took away all her magical powers — and would have perished along with them, had not Ms. magazine come to the rescue with a lobbying campaign to restore them — I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens again.

The original Wonder Woman was changing the world to fit women. This one seems changed to fit the world.

ABOVE: New Wonder Woman courtesy of DC Comics. BOTTOM: Ms. July 1972 cover.


Budding journalist hailing from Montana. l like long walks on the beach, candlelit dinners, and arguing about women and gender issues.