I’ve said it often. Things happen for a reason, and it’s usually alcohol.
Source: Oh Myyy!
Been there done that and know which I prefer by far.
Never forget that Ami tricked her classmate who couldn’t read English into thinking the lyrics to “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins were important space engineering documents.
I called bullshit. I pulled up the episode.
It’s real. Jesus fucking christ it’s real Kenny Loggins is in Sailor Moon what the actual shit.
THE BEGINNINGS OF KAWAII
No, no, you have no idea. It actually IS the beginning of the whole so-called “kawaii culture”. And it started because girls started using mechanical pencils, which provided fine handwriting. After being banished (more precisely, during the 80s), this kind of writing started being used in products like magazines and make-up. And, during this time, icons we usually associate with the whole kawaii industry (like the characters from Sanrio) came to life too.
And what many people don’t realize is that this subculture was born as a way for young girls to express themselves in their own way. And it was also used as something against the adult life and the traditional culture, often seen as dull and boring and oppressive. By embracing cuteness, these young girls (and adult women, after a while) were showing non-conformation with the current standards.
So yep. Kawaii is important, and it all started with cute, simple handwritting a few hearts and cat faces in some girls’ school notebooks <3
NO OK THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!
This is also how the kawaii fashions started! Girls began dressing in cute and off beat styles for themsleves, they were criticized by adult figures telling them “you’ll never find a husband if you dress that way!” to which they began to reply “Good!”
All the japanese subcultures and fashions that evolved out of this became a rebellion to tradition and the starch gender roles and expectations the adults were forcing on the younger generations. As early as the 70s and still to this day you’ll see an emphasis on child-like fashion and themes in more kawaii styles and the dismissal of the male gaze with styles like lolita (a lot of western people assume lolita is somehow sexual due to the name of the fashion, but ask any japanese lolita and they will tell you that men hate the style and find it unattractive which is sometimes a large reason they gravitate towards the style - they can express their femininity and individuality while remaining independent and without the pressure to appeal to men)
Its so so so important to understand the hyper cute and ‘odd’ fashions of Japanese girls carry such a huge message of feminism and reclaiming of their own lives.
so are you telling me that Japan’s punk phase was really the kawaii phase
Things I never would have ever guessed…
Some of you may have been hearing about what’s going on in Ferguson, MO, a suburb of St. Louis about 20 minutes from my house.
The long and the short of it is that over the weekend, an unarmed black man named Michael Brown was killed by a police officer. Since then, things have spiraled downward, into violations of basic First Amendment rights. I could go on, but you’d likely be better served looking it up yourself.
That being said, I’m offering a charity wallpaper in order to raise funds to donate to the NAACP and ACLU, as both organizations are actively working towards finding justice both for Michael Brown and his family, as well as the greater population of Ferguson.
If you cannot donate, that’s absolutely fine, but I do ask that you try to educate yourself and others as to what’s going on in Ferguson. Tyranny is real, and it is on our soil right now.
While not a huge fan of Green Lanterns I do like this comic and this picture so I figured I’d spread it around tumblr.
So for the final installment of my “New DC” reboots, I thought I’d take a look at Batman and friends. In some ways these are probably the least drastic of my redesigns (Batman’s been handled better than a lot of DC’s other properties), but I think the changes I have made are important ones. (You’ll also note that I did do a shorter Batman redesign not long ago, and for clarity’s sake this post is basically expanding on those basic ideas). Just as with the Legion of Doom, this Batman and his cohorts exist in the same imaginary continuity of my Superman reboots and all that, so keep that in mind.
The basic philosophy behind these designs are:
1) Make each character unique, in both personality & appearance
2) Each character should have something unique and useful to offer (ie: no one should be redundant)
3) The relationships between each character pair should be unique and encourage stories
Bruce Wayne (Batman)
Origin: Seeing his parents gunned down by a mugger at age 8, Bruce Wayne developed a particularly strong obsession with lawbreaking and the nature of the criminal mind. Using his vast family fortune, Wayne traveled the world for many years, learning the martial arts and the disciplines of detective work, engineering and stage magic, training under the greatest masters of their fields. When he returned to his city of Gotham, he saw that crime had taken a further turn for the worse, with gangs and the criminally insane taking on bizarre personas and costumes while they ran rampant through the city. Realizing that he could become a sort of lighting rod for the most dangerous of these criminals, Wayne took on the mantle of Batman, a creature of the night that would prey on the fears of the weak minded and attract the aggression of the bolder. His plan worked, and over time his operation expanded to include his trustworthy butler, Alfred, and even more.
Role: Fighter/Detective/Theatrics: Batman is a peerless hand-to-hand combatant (enhanced by steel gauntlets and taser knuckles) and a brilliant detective. His “wings” are actually a high tech fabric that becomes stiff in various shapes when a charge is sent through them, and goes limp like a cape when uncharged. This allows Batman to glide and take the literal silhouette of a massive bat when needed. It also provides limited resistance to firearms when stiff. The bat-symbol on his chest can light up and function as a spotlight to startle criminals, or it can be turned off, allowing him to disappear in the shadows. His eyes lenses allow both night and infra red vision. Batman’s ears function as a radio receiver, as well as a sound amplifier or dampener, the latter of which is necessary when he employs sonic weapons to frighting or disable criminals. Few things are more terrifying to denizens of the underworld than the inhuman screech of the Batman.
Batgirl - Stephanie is his new “project,” and once again he’s placed in a situation where he’s motivated both by fatherly instincts and guilt that come with her origins. At the same time, she’s almost like a playmate, as (unlike Tim and Barbara), she’ll totally indulge Batman’s craziest schemes. She keeps the child in him honest.
Robin - Bruce respects Robin and treats him more like a detective partner than son. They’ve worked together long enough to where their ideological differences aren’t at the forefront anymore, and they can get along (so long as it’s on a case). Probably his healthiest friendship aside from Alfred.
Oracle - Barbara is a constant reminder of Bruce’s earlier recklessness, and not a day goes by that he doesn’t try to concoct a way to make her life easier. He sees her as his adopted child in a lot of ways and is actually more protective of her than Stephanie.
Notes: My changes to Batman may seem modest, but the devil’s in the details. I wanted to take his crime fighting style back to his earliest roots and make him a bit spooky. I also wanted to emphasize the bat elements more strongly, not just with the wings and silhouette but the greater focus on sonics and night vision.
Tim Drake (Robin)
Origin: Born into an upper -middle-class Gotham family, Tim Drake had always been fascinated with detectives and forensics, though a career in law enforcement was heavily discouraged by his parents. This did not deter Tim’s self-education, however, and when he was barely 19 he deduced the Batman’s identity as Bruce Wayne. Knowing Wayne’s troubled past, he understood Batman’s motivations, and offered to join in the vigilante’s crusade. Not wanting to dress in a ridiculous costume, Drake put on a mask and a simple red-breasted coat. Annoyed that this “boy wonder” would look down on his methods, Batman gave him the codename “Robin.”
Role: Forensics/”Good Cop.” Drake serves as Batman’s forensics specialist and chemist. He is also Batman’s right-hand man when it comes to crime scene investigation. While no slouch in a fight, Drake prefers to stay out of brawls and leaves the violence to Batgirl and Batman.
Batman - Since both of his parents are alive and well, and he never suffered any childhood trauma, Tim Drake’s relationship with Batman’s more of a regular friendship and partnership. He thinks Bruce is a bit insane, but at the same time admires what he’s done for the city and knows there are certain things he can learn from Batman. While they do bicker on a daily basis, eventually they get on with whatever mission’s at hand.
Batgirl - Although not much older than Stephanie, Tim presents himself as an elder brother, offering advice when Bruce or Barbara come off as obtuse or grim. He greatly admires her fire, dedication, and also her butt.
Oracle - Tim worries about Barbara’s grasp on reality sometimes, and tries on a daily basis to get her to leave her computer and try to interact with people (to infrequent success). However, they also play online games together (to greater success).
Notes: Batman and Robin should always have a Bad Cop/Good Cop relationship. I’ve always liked the friendship between Rorschach and the Owl from Watchmen, where each guy’s motivation to be a hero’s pretty different, but they find common ground and play off each other’s strengths. Robin is the less cynical of human nature and also takes the whole “superhero” thing less seriously. He grounds Bruce, keeping one foot in reality. Visually I wanted something indicative of The Shadow or the Golden Age Sandman, where the detective elements are more emphasized (his mask, too, is meant to evoke a sort of venetian plague doctor vibe). Robin doesn’t need a utility belt, just pockets.
Stephanie Brown (Batgirl)
Origin: Stephanie Brown was only 16 when she discovered her father, Ed Brown, was also known as Edward Nygma, the notorious Riddler, a criminal Batman had never managed to capture. Feeling obligated to thwart his criminal plans with her inside knowledge, Stephanie spent months training and following her father’s escapades, studying his movements and patterns of riddles. To hide her identity to him, she took on the persona of The Spoiler, and vowed to spoil his plans whenever possible. Eventually Stephanie’s efforts paid off, and after anonymously delivering a message to Batman, helped him finally capture the Riddler. Batman, seeing that he had created an orphaned crimefighter, took in Stephanie as his ward to pay for her education.
Role: Ranged Support. Batgirl is Batman’s largely unseen assistant, providing nonlethal cover fire (blanks, darts, gas, rubber bullets, etc.) and overal tactical support when they’re out fighting crime. Geared for nimble acrobatics and ranged combat, Batgirl is also a skilled hand-to-hand fighter, making use of an extendible staff, taser and Batarangs. Her “gun” is high modular, able to go from a short-ranged blaster to a proper sniping weapon. Batgirl’s greatest advantage is that most criminals don’t know she exists.
Batman - Batman is both Stephanie’s adopted father and crazy uncle, getting her into trouble. She looks to him for both moral guidance and the infrastructure of her world now. Never having a stable home life before, Stephanie is still adjusting to both the comfort of Wayne’s wealth and the intensity of Batman’s world.
Robin - Stephanie adores Tim and follows him around wherever he goes. He’s the one “normal” person she can talk to on a daily basis (outside of school), and they’re quick to share anecdotes about their crime fighting.
Oracle - Barbara terrifies Stephanie. She doesn’t know how to approach her, nor does she quite understand why Barbara is so often shut away. For the first few months, she thought “Oracle” was just a magic computer Batman talked to.
Notes: Every good magician needs an assistant, and Batgirl fills role of the plucky sidekick nicely. She’s new to the Bat-family and her naivete and youthful vigor serve to keep Batman from becoming too grim. Visually her outfit’s similar to Batman’s, but without the attention-grabbing symbol. Her silhouette’s also a bit softer, and comes off a bit like a flying squirrel, which I like.
Barbara Gordon (Oracle)
Origin: Stephanie Brown wasn’t the first Batgirl. Years earlier, Barbara Gordon, a undergraduate student in criminal science, had secretly yearned for the life of the vigilante. Her father, Commissioner James Gordon, would never see her do police work, so Barbara took on the persona of Batgirl, and modelled herself after the famous crime fighter. Batman did indeed take notice and eventually took her under his wing. However, Batman was not as accustomed to working with others at the time, and sent in the less skilled and experienced Batgirl against the Joker and his henchmen, who overwhelmed the Batgirl and beat her until she was paralyzed from the waist down. Although Batman saved her life, he was convinced that her vigilante days were over. Not to be deterred, however, Barbara went through years of therapy and acclimated herself to Wayne’s cutting-edge prostheses technology. She now uses an exoskeleton to provide limited mobility, and serves as Batman’s operations director and engineer, also offering her occasional skills as a hacker and security specialist. Spending more and more time hidden away with her computers.
Role: Logistics/Organizer/Tech. Oracle is arguably the most indispensable member of the team, taking on the digital frontier to both preserve Batman’s identity (by managing Wayne’s transactions that fund their operation) and also to remotely manage his nightly patrols, offering guidance to Batman, Batgirl and Robin when needed. Her prostheses are mostly external and allow her to walk. Additionally, attachments made to her upper spine allow Oracle to form a direct neural link to certain operating systems.
Batman - Barbara worshipped Batman when she was younger. These days, while she does still see him as a second father, she tends to treat him like a child, obsessed more with chasing crooks than stopping crime on a larger scale. Deep down, though, she is convinced that she let him down when she was younger, and blames herself for the “incident.”
Batgirl - To say that Barbara is jealous of Stephanie would be an understatement. She sees a life she could have had as Batman’s “Number 2,” and doesn’t believe that Stephanie has earned the right to join them.
Robin - Tim is her anchor to the real world in that he’s one of the last people she can talk to about non-Batman related things. While she did carry a bit of a torch for the young detective not long ago, she finds it childish now. She doesn’t, however, like that this new Batgirl seems to have an eye for the Boy Wonder.
Notes: I wanted Barbara to retain her character, because superhero comics needs intelligent, competent female protagonists. I altered her “origin” a bit to be less grotesque and instead focused on the notion that Batman using kids to fight crime is kind of reckless. We see with Stephanie that he’s since taken a different approach and keeps her mainly out of direct harm. I also took Barbara out of a wheelchair, because I felt that in a superhero universe of magic and flying robots, someone with access to Bruce Wayne’s money should be able to get up stairs, regardless of their injuries. I want to present Barbara as someone who has become just as driven and obsessed as Batman. As to whether that’s a good thing (or whether this is the best path for her) remains to be seen.
And there you have it. I hoped you liked all my reboots. Let me know what you think!
What are heroes without villains? To follow up with my Rebooting the Justice League post, where I treated those characters to a more extreme reboot than DC’s “New 52,” I thought it would be fun to take a look at a redesigned villain team to oppose my redesigned Justice League:
Make sure to read the previous post, as I’ll be referencing plot points I set up there. All of these characters are part of the Legion of Doom, a group organized specifically to oppose the Justice League.
Origin: Lex Luthor is a self-made man. Born in the slums of Metropolis, he pulled himself out of poverty and was accepted with a full scholarship to MIT, though he soon dropped out to start his own business, LexCorp. Luthor’s company soon became the most influential in the country, the leader in both consumer and military technologies. His business practices were less than honest, however, and his further rise to power increasingly involved more dubious dealings. Upon the arrival of Superman, however, and his clear message of standing up to those who would abuse their power, Luthor became concerned. He didn’t understand where this person came from or how he was seemingly invincible, but he would find out.
To keep Superman and other heroes away from his most important dealings, Luthor devised two plans. First, he worked with the CIA to create Power Girl, a metahuman counter to Superman who would join the Justice League and watch over them. The second was a far more sinister and secret plan: to fund a team of supervillains to occupy the League’s time, a "Secret Society." No one but Luthor and a single Society member knew he was ultimately behind their organization.
Notes: Luthor’s a pretty great foil to Superman already, so I didn’t want to change much. I prefer his depiction as a corporate mogul instead of a mad scientist, especially since it fits with my Superman’s proletarian leanings. This, however, doesn’t mean that Luthor isn’t a technical genius, it’s just that his goals are bigger than just inventing things. Visually I wanted someone who looked pretty friendly, nerdy fellow, like a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. He’s a famous guy and his personal image is strongly tied to the success of his company, so he’d try hard to suppress any notion that he’s anything but perfect. Then comes Superman, who’s this media darling, and it really gets to Luthor. Not only is this guy out to stop Luthor and his kind, but he’s doing it with a squeaky clean image.
Cornelius “Gorilla” Grodd
Origin: LexCorp geneticist Cornelius Grodd was tasked with reproducing Superman’s regenerative abilities and invulnerability. When he learned that his professional rival at S.T.A.R. labs, Ananth Patil, had made greater strides in this, Grodd sabotaged Patil’s work (unwittingly turning him into the Flash) and stole a sample of what he believed to be a serum for reproducing Superman’s invulnerability. After thorough testing and modification, Grodd concluded that the serum would work, and would also easily double his intelligence. He also concluded that only he should possess such power, and took the serum himself. It did increase his intellect, but instead of invulnerability, Grodd’s body was turned into an early hominid-like form. Disgraced, he turned to Luthor for aid, who offered him a new mission in exchange for the funding needed to undo his disfigurement: create a supervillain group to keep Superman occupied. Grodd knows he’s being used, but for the meantime plays along before making a direct action against Luthor.
Powers: Grodd possesses slightly higher than human strength, but his main ability is his cunning intellect and ability to hypnotize and control those with whom he makes eye contact.
Notes: Grodd’s a fun character and everyone loves an evil gorilla, but I wanted to have an appearance that wasn’t so on the nose about it. I decided for kind of a Planet of the Apes appearance, and went with a backstory that meshed with that. He’s also a guy who’s now as smart as or smarter than Luthor, with the same sort of ambition, and I wanted to preserve the classic semi-rivalry between these two villains.
Metallo (John Corben)
Origin: LexCorp wasn’t the only company bidding for the government’s superhuman contract. Cadmus Labs also had a candidate for the “answer” to Superman, but while Lex Luthor’s project was simply to make their own superhuman, Cadmus took a darker route by creating a weapon explicitly designed to kill Superman. In place of a life sentence, mass murderer John Corben signed on to be one of Cadmus’s experiments. Project Metallo involved grafting him to a mechanical body, one that was powered by a mysterious meteor that they had been observed to weaken Superman. When Metallo was rejected by the government in favor of Power Girl, Cadmus made plans to dismantle him, but Corben managed to escape. Soon, however, he was intercepted by the Grodd, and offered an opportunity to join the Society so that he could fulfill the one action that would truly give him pleasure (thanks to Cadmus’s conditioning): fighting Superman.
Powers: Metallo possesses superhuman durability and strength, as well as a limited armament and the ability to fly short distances via rockets. His most distinctive attribute, however, is the power source in his chest: a fragment of Krypton, which fell to Earth along with Kal-El’s rocket years ago. The reason it causes harm to Superman is that when Colu sets out to destroy a species, it reforms their planets into a substance that unmakes them, specifically. As such, a fragment of the reconstituted Krypton (“Kryptonite,” if you will) unravels Kal-El’s very being. Metallo is also capable of firing a beam of Kryptonite radiation from his chest or eyes (when his faceplate is down).
Notes: Criminal experimentation seemed like a natural way to go with Metallo. I also like the notion that Lex Luthor actually didn’t come up with the most evil way to deal with Superman (at least at first). Visually I wanted Metallo to look a bit clunky and retro; there’s some Iron Giant and Big O in there, as well as a creepy glowing skull. He’s meant to look like he can take and give a pounding. The origin I’ve given him isn’t far removed from his original, just a little closer to something from the Robocop movies.
Livewire (Leslie Willis)
Origin: Leslie Willis first gained notoriety on the reality TV show I’m a Superhero, Get Me Out of Here, where contestants were given a superhero name, powers, and forced to live together in Miami. When she discovered she would soon be voted off the show, Willis concocted a plan to increase her popularity by “going evil,” and proceeded to murder the other contestants and film crew. The plan worked, and “Livewire” continued to garner fame with a violent life of crime. She joined the Secret Six primarily because it would increase her exposure and chances of killing a popular hero. However, if that doesn’t turn out, Livewire has a backup plan where she will “turn good” at the last minute and help the Justice League.
Powers: Livewire’s gauntlets and helmet allow her to control electromagnetic fields. This mostly involves firing bolts of electricity and a rudimentary usage of magnetism to bend or throw metal.
Notes: Livewire’s original origin (as a shock jock) seemed a little too early 90s, but I do like the idea of an obnoxious egomaniac angle, so I went with the reality show backstory. In a world where Superman and other heroes are a new thing, you’d expect media outlets to capitalize on the hype. Livewire’s motivations aren’t too far removed from modern non-celebrities of that type, she’s only taken it to extremes. Visually, I wanted her outfit to be provocative before it’s practical. This is a character who is more concerned about being photographed than having combat-ready clothing.
Giganta (Doris Zeul)
Origin: The appearance of Superman and others sparked somewhat of a superhuman arms race worldwide, with nations concerned about their enemies gaining super soldiers of their own. A high price was offered, for example, for anyone who could navigate to the Amazonian island, Themiscyra, and recover its relics. Many treasure hunters lept at the opportunity, but only the mercenary Doris Zeul and her team were able to successfully navigate to Themiscyra. Although her companions were killed by the various traps left by the Amazons, Zeul survived and found a suit of armor said to contain the power of Ares. Deciding the claim the armor for her own, Zeul now works for the highest bidder, and that bidder is the Secret Society.
Powers: Fueled by rage, Giganta’s armor enhances her fighting skills and physical stature, as well as raise her strength and durability. Generally, the longer a fight goes on, the more indestructible she becomes.
Notes: Wonder Woman needed someone to sword fight, so I went with a little-used origin of Giganta that involved her being more of an Amazonian foil than a lady with growing powers. I also wanted to keep the origins of the characters diverse, and liked the idea of some powers-that-be trying to replicate Wonder Woman’s powers instead of Superman’s. Visually, I wanted Giganta to contrast with Wonder Woman while still having Greco-Roman vibes. I used a gladiator style to help distinguish her as someone who revels in combat and power, while Wonder Woman is more of a peacekeeper.
Sinestro (Evan Qward)
Origin: Midori Ota was not the first on Earth to possess the Oan “green lantern.” Years earlier, another person, Dr. Evan Qward, first received it, but he quickly came to abuse its power, hoping to rule over the Earth with what he deemed a divine gift. The Oan lantern, however, was built with a failsafe against such abuse and disappeared from Qward’s possession, in search of a new host. Soon Qward was driven mad, having become addicted to the power, and spent the rest of his life trying to replicate the abilities of the lantern. Having recently discovered there is a new person using his former “gift,” Qward has taken up with the Secret Society under the name Sinestro in order to kill this new Green Lantern and reclaim what is rightfully his.
Powers: Sinestro has designed a suit and power supply meant to mimic the Green Lantern’s abilities, though it does not exactly achieve this. Instead, he can only deconstruct and manipulate nonliving matter with yellow rays from his gloves.
Notes: I think Sinestro is an important component of the Green Lantern mythos, as he represents the temptation that comes with such power and how easily it can be abused. Although his origin here is fairly different from the original, I think I’ve still kept the essential element of him being a “fallen” Green Lantern who thinks that power should be used to rule over people rather than serve them. While originally his antagonism was mostly an ideological one (since he still had his own power ring), here I’ve added a more direct motivation: he wants his lantern back. I like the notion of such power being addictive. After all, I imagine losing the ability to make whatever you imagine come to life would make anyone pretty angry. Visually, I didn’t want to stray too far from the original Sinestro. He’s a basically an evil Green Lantern, so that should stay the same.
Parasite (Madame Vandal)
Origin: Shortly before their fateful visit to Mars, Kryptonian explorers briefly visited Earth to determine if its inhabitants were ready for “modification.” After a brief experimentation, it was determined that humans were too savage in their present state, and the Kryptonians erased the evidence of their arrival before moving on to Mars. One experiment lived, however, and found that she could prolong her life by absorbing the “life force” of those around her. As time went on, the power did dwindle and she found she had to more and more frequently absorb others to maintain her life. This persisted for over a thousand years, when she encountered Grodd, who wished her to join the Secret Society in exchange for research into her “condition.” Madame Vandal’s story of alien abduction is not believed (and she never quite remembers it correctly), but she is nevertheless welcomed, as she is indisputably the most powerful member of the Secret Society.
Powers: Vandal has the ability to leech energy from others through physical contact. This rejuvenates her, as well as temporarily elevates her strength and vitality to whatever she’s touched. This effectively makes her as powerful as Superman while fighting him. To fully maintain her presumed immortality, Vandal has to completely drain a person until they die. Also, with some concentration, she can absorb non-biological energy as well (such as kinetic or electrical) and redirect it at her command.
Notes: I combined Parasite’s abilities with a more Vandal Savage origin story, as I think the two work well together. Visually I wanted someone who didn’t look very imposing, hiding their true power. Parasite here is almost like a vampire, slinking in the shadows and lasting as long as she has because most people don’t know her true nature.
Huntress (Helena Bertinelli)
Origin: Daughter of a prominent Gotham crime boss, Helena Bertinelli watched her family gunned down during a mafia war. Living in hiding with a foster family, she grew to despise organized crime in all its forms. When she came of age, Helena idolized Batman and wished to gain his favor by taking on the persona of Batgirl. However, Batman was concerned about her brutal methods of crime fighting, and told her he couldn’t waste time training such a person when there is a growing superhuman concern. Still wanting his approval, Helena created a new villain persona, the Huntress, and joined the ranks of the Secret Society with the intent of exposing their mysterious financier. She reasoned that superhumans loyal to the government or a corporate force were far more dangerous than the Justice League, and intends to dismantle their operation by whatever means she can.
Powers: Huntress is an expert in hand-to-hand combat and ranged weaponry. Her goggles allow her night vision and infrared tracking, and her body armor is designed specifically to absorb concussive blows, as well as redirect energy known to be used by many metahumans. Her preferred weapons are a crossbow and collapsible sword.
Notes: I wanted to have one character who rode the line a bit, and the Huntress is a good candidate. While obviously not a real villain, Huntress is to the Secret Society what Power Girl is to the Justice league, at least in that she has ulterior motives. Visually, I wanted someone who took after Batman, so most of what’s she’s wearing is a more practical version of her regular costume. I’m not a fan of people with secret identities and exposed hair, so I gave her a full mask and cut her hair short to fit. I liked the religious imagery of her original costume but felt hanging crosses were a little too on the nose, so I went with a priest’s collar and an overall look that sort of resembles a cardinal.
And there’s my Secret Society! I wanted to have a combination of personalities that would play well with each other, as well as give the Justice League appropriate foils in combat. Most importantly, I wanted the backstories, characters and designs to be fresh and get people interested in some of these (often obscure) supervillains. Tell me what you think!
So, following the immense popularity of my 5 Essential Character Redesigns post, I decided to take a more thorough stab at revamping DC Comic’s Justice League. I’ve already mentioned before that I think their current “New 52” reboot, aimed at gaining new readers, is terribly ineffective, so I will attempt to present DC’s top characters in a way that achieves the basic goals that a reboot should:
- Make the characters appealing to new readers, not just old ones
- Create new story opportunities while staying true to the core themes
- Update, correct and redesign where necessary
With these goals in mind, here’s my take. I’ve written out each character’s “reboot” in detail, including my justification for the changes.
Superman (Kal-El/Clark Kent)
Origin: The Kryptonian civilization once spanned hundreds of worlds, their technology and knowledge unrivaled in their corner of the galaxy. Kryptonians had long since advanced to a point where technology and biology were indistinguishable, making them virtually immortal and omnipotent in the eyes of less developed races. Over time they grew overconfident, and wished to introduce their technology to undeveloped worlds, in direct violation of the most important rule of the galactic community: the Omega Law.
In an attempt to assimilate the natives of the planet Mars, Krypton finally gained the attention of Colu, enforcer of the Omega Law, and was marked for extermination. A Kryptonian Scientist named Jor-El, specializing in passively and remotely observing nearby Earth, witnessed this and rapidly set a plan forward to save his infant son, Kal-El, from their fate. By sending him in a conventional rocket toward the backwater planet Earth, he guaranteed Kal-El’s safety from Colu. The rocket took over a thousand years to reach the planet, and upon reaching the surface, restructured Kal-El’s body so he would appear as a human.
Raised by simple farmers, Kal-El (now called Clark Kent) eventually learned of his heritage when examining a recorded message from his rocket. His father informed him of his fate, and that he must never dominate the planet with his immense power, as it would warp the fate of all life on Earth. Not content to passively observe humanity, though, Clark decides to inspire others through his actions as Superman.
Superman has declared that he fights for those who cannot defend themselves, owing no allegiance to a particular government (though still obeying their laws). He has particularly targeted corporate corruption and the military-industrial complex as enemies of human progress, his most prominent opponent being billionaire industrialist Lex Luther and his company, LexCorp.
Powers: Superman can “shed” his human form and appear as a Kryptonian, though he chooses not to, as to avoid violating the Omega Law. He possesses superhuman durability and strength, as well as the ability to move himself through the air. His senses are also much more sensitive than an average human’s. Being a Kryptonian, he is actually capable of near-godlike feats, but for the safety of the Earth and his mission, Clark deliberately avoided learning of what he is truly capable.
Notes: I wanted to bring Superman back to his depression-era roots, where in the earliest stories he was mostly concerned with social justice more than representing specifically American ideals. It was only after World War 2 that he became a more “boy scout,” authoritarian character. I wanted him to be closer to the Nietzschean “Superman” (the earliest inspiration for the character) whose morality can be independent of traditional ones.
Visually, I wanted to have him look a little more working class, with the buttons suggesting the image of overalls and the sleeves appearing rolled up. With the cape and high boots, though, he still has the appearance of an adventurer. I wanted the overall look to be more of a friendly guy who wants to help people more than a demigod who watches over them. He’s more of a fireman than a police officer.
Also, as an aside, Colu was the original home planet of Braniac, so I used that name for him instead.
Wonder Woman (Diana)
Origin: Since antiquity there had been a remote Mediterranean island, Themyscira, inhabited by near-mythical women, often called Amazons. They mastered many arts of combat, but also had a knowledge of mysterious crafts regarded by outsiders as “magic.” Over time their numbers dwindled, but they created a special keeper of their island, a living statue whom they named Diana. Over a thousand years later, long after the last of the Amazons had died out, Diana remained. Her vigil was finally interrupted by the plane crash of an American pilot, Steve Trevor. Taking pity on him and nursing him back to health, Diana decided that the “world of men” was too fragile and needed protecting, or at the very least investigating.
Powers: Diana is composed of nearly indestructible “living marble,” which gives her superhuman strength and durability. She also possesses a sword that contains the lightning of Zeus and a shield containing the wisdom of Athena (which, when using its reflection, can reveal a person’s inner self and compel them to tell the truth).
Notes: I wanted to push the mythological angle further, not just for story possibilities but because it can make her more unique from Superman. Too often is Wonder Woman defined by as “the female superhero” rather than anything especially unique about her. The novelty of a superhero being female may have been acceptable in the 1940s, but now it’s quaint at best. Presenting her as a literal living statue is actually not far from her regular origin (she was formed by the Queen of the Amazons out of clay and given life), and it also provides an added Pygmalion or Telos mythological angle, which I think suits her character to begin with. Visually, I gave her something more Greek-like and battle ready, more so than the little bathing suit Wonder Woman usually has. Like most of the Justice League, she’s an alien in the regular world, but she also provides a unique perspective. This, I believe, is an essential theme of the team.
Cyborg (Victor Stone)
Origin: Born with a degenerative nervous system, Victor Stone nevertheless became a technological savant and eventually overcame his disability with cybernetics of his own design. Having always been obsessed with human enhancement, he instantly became enamored when news of a “Superman” circulated the world. In an attempt to win the favor of the newly formed Justice League, he proceeded to hack into their systems and even physically challenge them to prove his worth. Despite being ultimately defeated, Victor was accepted as a member and serves as their “IT guy.”
Powers: Cyborg possesses higher than average human strength, the ability to connect himself to and to control most computer systems, and a greatly enhanced intellect. He also possesses an impressive (though not always fully functioning) array of personal armaments.
Notes: Cyborg’s current origin (troubled teen who gets in an accident) seemed played out, so I went the technophile angle, which I think is more relevant. It also places a more positive light on Cyborg’s prostheses, as the original origin has a very antiquated “Darth Vader” vibe to it. Here I’ve basically based Cyborg off of Richard Ayoade’s character Moss from The IT Crowd, making him much geekier and emphasizing his intelligence over brute strength. When you’re on a superhero team with the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman, having a gun hand isn’t your greatest attribute. With that in mind, my Cyborg is valued more for his technical skills and madcap ingenuity.
The Martian Manhunter (John Jones)
Origin: Thousands of years ago, there existed a civilization of changelings who inhabited Mars. Unaware of greater galactic affairs, they were contacted by a Kryptonian ship wishing to advance them with their immense technology. This was in violation of the Omega Law, and both civilizations were immediately doomed to extermination. While this occurred, a single Martian was accidentally teleported to the present time, on Earth, by an experimental teleporter in LexCorp labs. Despite this unusual arrival, LexCorp did not believe him to be an alien but a mutated version of John Jones, the astronaut they were attempting to teleport to Mars. There the Martian was kept for several years before being rescued by Superman.
Inspired by Superman’s heroics, the Martian took on the name Manhunter and vowed to bring justice to Lex Luthor and others who abuse their power.
Powers: ”John Jones,” like all his kind, can change his physical form at will, though it takes some effort to keep any shape that isn’t his natural one. He is only limited by the amount of matter in his own body. Using this, he can alter his density to become lighter than air, turn invisible and even “phase” through solid matter.
Notes: I removed most of the Martian Manhunter’s powers and focused on shapeshifting, since his other abilities are covered thoroughly by Superman and the rest of the Justice League. This version is also much less trustworthy of human beings, and with his special skill acts as the League’s detective and infiltrator. Visually I went with something more gangly, and with an outfit that he made himself to mimic Superman. He’s explicitly meant to look awkward and out of place. I like John being more alien and focused on simply understanding the world around him. The first Earthlings he really encounters are all heroes so he thinks “Well, I guess I’ll assimilate into this ‘super’ culture.”
Green Lantern (Midori Ota)
Origin: Oa is a planet that stands apart from the galactic community in that its leaders take great interest in underdeveloped civilizations. So great is their concern that, in violation of the Omega Law, they secretly send devices of significant power to backwater worlds that allows a single individual of utmost character to defend their planet from existential threats. Upon its arrival to Earth, the device chose a young animator named Midori Ota for her creativity and strength of will. While she eventually embraced this new power, Midori does not realize this “green lantern’s” origins or why she must truly wield it.
Powers: The “Green Lantern” itself is a device of Oan technology that binds itself to the chest of Midori when in use, and can project a stream of microscopic machines that can take on virtually any form she imagines. The only limitations are ones of concentration and total amount of the machine particles. She can also fly by encasing herself in a thin layer of the material. Also, while the lantern is the literal source of the objects Midori generates, there is not always a literal trail of light connecting it to the source. Once the substance is “projected,” she is able to sculpt and move it as she sees fit.
Notes: The only significant visual change is the removal of the ring. I did this partly because I think a visually central source of power fits with the symmetry of the outfit better, but more importantly I wanted a device that was more universal and would make sense with an interplanetary effort to empower multiple species. It also cuts out the middle man and make the Green Lantern someone who literally uses a Green Lantern to fight. You wouldn’t call Batman “Money Man” or “Cave Man” because that’s where he recharges. Also I went with a plucky, younger character like Kyle Rayner, who I think was the most interesting to hold the title. Midori is a person who enjoys being a superhero and revels in the action it brings, at least for now.
The Flash (Ananth Patil)
Origin: While attempting to replicate what he believed to be the origin of Superman’s invulnerability, Dr. Ananth Patil accidentally accelerated his own metabolism to a superhuman degree. While he has gained extraordinary abilities in the process, his body has become unstable, requiring him to eat enormous amounts of food simply to stay alive and making regular sleep impossible. He currently seeks out other superhumans, hoping to find a way to cure his condition.
Powers: The Flash can and move at incredible speeds, well past Mach 10. He has also devised a helmet that compensates for the Doppler blue shift he sees at very high speeds as well as the equivalent for sound with his ear microphones.
Notes: I wanted a different take on the Flash than what’s usually seen, namely someone who saw it more of a curse than a blessing. Ananth is a scientist first, he’s more like Hank Pym or Bruce Banner: adventuring is a means to an end. Visually I wanted to give him a build that was more like a sprinter with larger thighs and a leaner overall shape. His outfit is very deliberately designed (by the Flash himself), with an emphasis on comfort and practicality.
Power Girl (Karan Starr)
Origin: Superman is considered a security liability by the US Government, as he does not recognize their authority over most matters. As a response, the CIA secretly worked with LexCorp on replicating the Man of Tomorrow’s abilities in human beings. The only test subject to survive the process was Lieutenant Karan Starr, who was given the codename “Power Girl” and tasked with being the United States’ counter to Superman. However, instead of openly opposing him, Karan was sent to infiltrate the newly formed Justice League as an independent “superhero.”
Powers: Strength and invulnerability comparable to Superman, though she does not have his more unusual abilities like flight. However, since LexCorp did not know that Superman is an alien, their methods of replicating his abilities were very different. This may lead to Karan experiencing side effects later on.
Notes: Power Girl’s origin story has always been a mess, so I just started from scratch. Since my version of Superman both makes him much more antiauthoritarian, it seemed natural to have a character that exists as the government’s response to a superhuman acting independent of their own interests. Karan is essentially a Captain America character with a much more morally ambiguous origin, and is sent to basically watch over this crazy (in her eyes) band of superpowered people- I think that has story potential. Visually I wanted to keep her short, curvy build, but place emphasis on her strength instead of her sexuality.
And there’s my take on it. Overall I wanted to place emphasis on character over costume, meaning that I tried to develop the superpowers to fit each character’s personality. I also tried to develop a lineup that could provide a lot of new stories as well as various character relationships.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!