Comic Art Friday: I loved an Amazon before she was a website

You know that old saying, “Clothes make the man”? Shouldn’t that be, “Clothes make the woman”? Women — to generalize to the point of stereotype — tend to be more selective about their clothes than men are.

A hue and cry erupted in comics fandom some time back when DC Comics radically redesigned Wonder Woman’s iconic costume, putting the Amazing Amazon in an outfit that — to my eye, anyway — looks like she’s trying out for a mid-’90s version of the Avengers. (Remember that period when half the members of Marvel’s premier superteam wore leather jackets, like extras from West Side Story? Yeah, I know — I’ve tried to forget, too.)

The furor mostly ignored the fact that DC has tinkered with Diana’s fighting togs on several occasions. For several years in the late ’60s and early ’70s, she didn’t even wear a costume. In the main, however, the platform of Wonder Woman’s gear has followed a pattern — the tiara, the bustier, the star-spangled lower half, red footwear.

If I were designing Wonder Woman’s ideal outfit, it would look the way Gene Gonzales draws it in today’s featured artwork.

Wonder Woman, pencils and inks by comics artist Gene Gonzales

I’m partial to the old-school bustier with the golden eagle emblazoned on the front. It seems a more realistic reflection of Diana’s connection to ancient Greek mythology than the stylized version of the past several decades, in which the eagle has been transmogrified into a modern “WW” logo.

I like the notion — as impractical as it might be for fighting and flying — of Diana in a skirt. (Contrary to popular belief, Wonder Woman’s original costume was not skirted. Her earliest ensemble had a pair of flouncy culottes covering her pelvic region; as drawn by H.G. Peter, the original Wonder Woman artist, these looked like a pleated skirt. Peter soon modified the culottes into a pair of form-fitting bicycle shorts.)

I’m especially fond of the calf-laced ballet flats that Diana wore throughout the 1950s and into the early ’60s. Not only are these far more effective for running around in than the high-heeled boots Wonder Woman has sported for more of her history, but like the eagle-emblazoned top, the slippers recall at least the flavor of ancient Greece. To me, that’s an essential element of Wonder Woman’s character. (The primary problem with the slippers was that the artists who drew Diana during the years when she wore them could never agree on what they were supposed to look like — how many times did the laces criss-cross the leg, for example? Half the time, the laces didn’t even connect to the backs of the shoes, making it appear that Diana simply wrapped ribbons around her shins for no good reason.)

No one in the comics world ever seeks my opinion about anything. But if they did, I’d tell them that this ought to be Wonder Woman’s standard costume, forever and ever.

I may not know much about fashion, but I know what I like.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

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