For this landmark anniversary issue, Gail Simone provides her swan song together with several back up features by guest writers and artists – in a celebration of all things Wonder Woman. And as it turned out this issue appeared to also be Wonder Woman’s swan song – at least as far as the iconic classic interpretation of Diana was concerned.
As already announced, the book also received a renumbering and returned once more to its original volume one numbering order, making what would have been issue 45 of volume three become issue 600.
And with this landmark issue new writer J. Michael Straczynski commenced his new story run with a prologue…and with it shocked fans and non fans alike by introducing his version of Diana in a brand new costume designed by Jim Lee. In this first twelve month story arc set in an alternate reality, Paradise Island has been destroyed and most of the Amazons, including Hippolyta, have been killed when Diana was only a small child. As a result she has grown up in Man’s World a very different woman to the one we know and love.
DC had done a very good job of keeping this costume change a secret to achieve maximum shock value, even releasing covers of future issues in Previews that still showed her in her iconic, classic costume. So, when #600 hit the newsstands and DC, in a clearly marketing motivated but none-the-less effective ploy, released this revelation about the new costume and direction to the news media at large, what followed was an unprecedented media storm.
Once again, Diana’s status as a worldwide recognised icon was further affirmed as furious public debate erupted across the spectrum on the merits of this new look and the new direction. Understandably, opinions were forceful and polarised. Some loved the new look, which they considered a long overdue modernisation of what they described as the “American flag bathing suit”, even though Gail Simone had provided an entirely different origin for the costume in issue 43, in which she explained that the costume was in fact a representation of the blood red moon and star consolation in the night sky under which Diana was created by Hippolyta. More traditional fans on the other hand decried how such an instantly recognisable and iconic costume had been watered down to a generic, bland, department store get up mixing elements of Black Canary and Superboy’s outfits – and which bore no resemblance to the Wonder Woman they knew and loved – appearing in some eyes to be more like “a Nintendo fighting game character from the 90s”!!!!
And what is more, conspiracy theories also ran amok that this was actually all just a cynical move by Warner Brothers to introduce a new, more “Hollywood” friendly costume (i.e. dumbed down) in anticipation of a new movie, stoking fears in some quarters of another “Cathy Lee Crosby” debacle in the making.
Whatever the truth, it cannot be denied that the amount of publicity this costume change caused (surprisingly, even more so than the new origin story itself) meant that the mainstream man and woman in the street, who had probably never read the comic book in their life – but remembered and more importantly still instantly recognised this classic character with affection – were talking about Wonder Woman again with affection.
And as to whether the costume would remain at the end of the year long story arc (which was extended mid way by another two issues in order to become a fourteen issue arc and thus link more seamlessly with the Flashpoint crossover event) – after much debate and speculation the title was, in fact, once again relaunched(!) together with a every single other DC character in a massive and historic company wide re-boot of the entire DC Universe as a result of the Flashpoint.
This new version of Wonder Woman wore a slightly modified version of the controversial Jim Lee costume – dashing hopes amongst many long term fans that the original, classic version of this iconic character would in fact return. That version of Diana, it seemed, no longer seemed to play a part in DC’s plans and although glimpses of the real Amazon Princess would be seen occasionally during Odyssey, the classic incarnation of Wonder Woman seemed to have effectively – and very sadly – ended with this issue.