Alternate versions of Robin

DC’s Superboy, Red Robin, and Kid Flash Reboot For New Teen Titans Book (And I Think of the 90s)

Okay, so I think of the 90s anyway. That said, here’s the picture for the rebooted Teen Titans:

I was chatting with someone today who said this whole reboot reminds him of the 90s, and, specifically, what Marvel tried to do with Heroes Reborn.  The Superboy and Kid Flash designs specifically make me think of 90s aesthetics.  That patch on Bart’s left shoulder?  Reminds me of Jim Lee’s first shot at redesigning Superman, circa 1996:

Kid Flash should be minimalist and throwback.  When Bart Allen gave up the Impulse identity and became Kid Flash, it was in honor of Wally West and his costume reflected the importance of legacy in the Flash mythos:

This is the right look, but the boots are too busy.  The thing going on at the top of this post is just a mess.

As for Superboy. If you were 13 in 1993, you know that the modern incarnation of the Boy of Steel debuted during the Reign of the Supermen arc following Superman’s death. He was punk, and he looked every bit the 90s awesome he was meant to be:

Haters hate, but I think this costume was perfectly awesome for the time.  And yes, after seeing this, I did go home and try to draw Starter jackets for Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and the Flash.  That said, I think everyone agrees that Superboy’s most recent look is 100% DCAT (Don’t Change A Thing, with thanks to Paul Lukas):

This has become Connor Kent’s iconic Superboy look.  In the solicit picture for the reboot, he’s back to being a scenester.  What’s with the gothy tape job on his back?  The bar-c0de tattoo?  What could possibly tattoo him, anyway? For that matter, how did he pierce his ear in the 90s?  I know, I know: same way he shaves (his own heat vision in a mirror).

Red Robin (Tim Drake, formerly the third Robin before becoming Red Robin in the current DCU) is said to be leading the new new new Teen Titans.  I liked the Kingdom Come-inspired Red Robin costume of the last two years, and I liked the red and black look Tim sported during his final stint as the Boy Wonder.  Now he has feathers.  I want to say I hate it, but I sort of don’t.   Tim’s original costume was, perhaps, the perfect union of 90s re-design and timing.  It was current, believable, and, most importantly, not ridiculous.  The cape was black, the legs were covered.  The R was finally stylized.  He got a bo-staff and real boots. He got his own book and became a sidekick who was always more than that.  Tim was the best of the all the Robins because Tim’s  skill set, intellect, and emotional complexity made Robin a real hero in his own right and a compelling character to boot.  Tim Drake did for Robin what Nightwing did for Dick Grayson.  It makes sense that Tim would keep part of the Robin identity even as he moves on, but I’m not sure about those feathers.  Why not the current Red Robin costume with a domino mask instead of a cowl?  The rest of what’s going on above is way too busy.   I know that the hooded Robin look is being done by Damien Wayne, and Tim’s Robinmobile is called the Redbird.  I get that Tim ought to retain some of that mythos and the feathers signal the Tim (as opposed to Damien) side of things, but still.  Unless he starts to fly (please, no), he really shouldn’t have them.

If the 200os saw DC return to the Silver Age in terms of story and allusion, it feels like September 2011-forward are looking like the 90s redux.  Short from letting Supes fly his freak flag every now and then, I’m not sure that’s the way they should be going.  Then again, I was one of those kids that started reading comics because of the Batman movie and then in earnest with the Reign of the Supermen and the Knightfall series.  One of DC’s immediate goals is to give new readers and brand new point of entry, and the reboot and renumbering certainly provides that chance on a massive scale.  Still, feathers?  You know what? I’ll admit it.  He does look kind of cool.