DC Comics has been making tweaks to the look of two of its biggest heroes for the past few years. It was recently announced that beginning with Action Comics #1000, Superman will finally return to the “classic” costume, red trunks and all. DC made this revelation with all of the fanfare befitting the thousandth issue of the original superhero comic book. But it would seem they’re not done yet, because Batman also just got a new look.
Appropriately, in true Batman fashion, this has (so far) been done with little or no fanfare. But Batman does indeed have a new look, and we get our first glimpse of it in the pages of Doomsday Clock #3 by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson. Sure, the headlines here might be about Batman meeting Rorschach as the Watchmen sequel kicks into gear, which indeed makes for some fun moments, but for me, the highlight is the new Batman costume.
Why? Because it looks like the old Batman costume. Specifically, they finally brought back the yellow oval.
This might not seem like a big deal, especially considering that the dominant impression of Batman in popular culture involved a yellow oval around the bat symbol for over 30 years. But since the 1990s, Batman’s costume has been slowly drained of color, first losing the blue highlights and yellow utility belt to be replaced with (admittedly more practical) darker shades, and ultimately dropping the yellow oval for good. It was a sign of the character returning to his “Dark Knight Detective” roots once and for all. He did just fine without that yellow oval for his first 25 years, right?
Frank Miller famously justified the yellow oval in 1986’s The Dark Knight Returns with the line, “Why do I wear a target on my chest? Can’t armor my head.” But that book also saw the return of the darker, non-ovaled batsuit, and its repercussions were felt for years. Over the next decade or so, the yellow oval fell out of favor, and stopped appearing in movies and, eventually, even animation. Grant Morrison brought back the yellow oval in the pages of Batman Inc., in what was probably my favorite batsuit of the modern era, and the more brightly colored Batman returned to TV for the excellent Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series.
The Doomsday Clock costume certainly reminds me both of the Batman Inc. suit as well as the one worn in Batman: Earth One (which also comes from Geoff Johns and Gary Frank), particularly with the size and placement of the logo and that it’s raised off the rest of the costume. The shape of the bat itself seems a little reminiscent of the Adam West costume from the 1966 TV series, believe it or not.
Other touches that distinguish this from Bats’ current look is that for what feels like the first time in ages, the cowl, gloves, and boots are blue rather than black. The ears on the cowl have been slightly lengthened from what we’ve seen in recent years, both in the pages of the comics and on the big screen with Ben Affleck’s batsuit.
So why hasn’t DC made a big deal about Batman getting a new/classic suit the way they have with Superman? Part of this may come from a detail in Doomsday Clock itself. Doomsday Clock takes place a year in the future of the DC Universe. The rest of the DCU won’t catch up until Doomsday Clock releases its twelfth and final issue (with the book now switching to a bi-monthly shipping schedule, it’s going to be a little while). It’s possible that, like Superman, they’re saving an “official” reveal until Detective Comics #1000, which likely won’t arrive until early 2019.
I’ll be sure to overthink whatever way they choose to reveal it. But it’s nice to see Batman looking like a superhero again, practicality be damned.
Mike Cecchini clearly spends too much time thinking about superhero costumes. Tell him so on Twitter.