Hypertransitory Re-Design: Superboy’s New Costume

My own artwork featuring the costume I designed for Superboy.

Greetings once again, beloved Hypertransitory readers!

Today’s post will deal with my own redesign of the costume of DC Comics character Superboy.

After I saw (and hated) his new costume design, I thought “Could I do better? Should I try my hand at a designing a costume that I think is better?”

Answer: “Eeehhhh. Why not?” So here we go…

Those of you into comics are no doubt already well aware of the recent “shot heard ’round the comics world” -namely DC Comic’s relaunch of their entire stable of characters this coming fall.

I have to admit that I didn’t care too much, namely because I only buy one regular DC Comic now and that’s Batman, Inc. Somehow I think Batman will make it through this ok.

Aside from that, this huge change is really the only way I would ever buy any of those DC comics. I might give some of them a chance, now.

The only thing is, Superboy’s new costume isn’t very appealing to me. I’m gonna back up into some history of this once-great character.

Back in the day…

For those of you not into comics, this Superboy isn’t Superman as a boy. He’s (basically) a hybrid clone of Lex Luthor with some Kryptonian DNA thrown in there (I think…it got convoluted).

He first showed up back in the 90’s after some creature popped up and beat Superman to death. Initially he was thought to be a clone of Superman, but as it turned out his powers were really too weak for that to be the case.

Anyway, he was a breath of fresh air because Superman was kinda boring. Superboy was a teenager with raging hormones. All he could think about was girls and fame. He always had something crazy to say, too. He was a real wise-ass most of the time, but it was interesting.

Here’s a shot of what he looked like when he initially hit the scene:

So yeah, that’s some real 90’s style there. All kinds of unnecessary straps and stuff. He wasn’t as bad as 90’s X-Men but pretty close.

Although many hated his costume, I really liked it. It fit the character’s brash personality and it was kind of over the top ridiculous. Plus I always liked to see those sunglasses go flying when he got knocked the f%#! out (almost every other issue -I told you he was weak).

Unfortunately, the magic of the character wore off when writers became obsessed with making him “grow up” and become more mature. Ugh. Why do they always wanna to stop the fun?

Many fans thought “well, everyone has to grow up sometime.”

NO. Not a comic book character. He can stay the same fun kid forever.

I also remember something about him not being physically capable of aging past 16, but I don’t know what happened with that.

There were some attempts at updating the costume. Luckily, I wasn’t reading the character at that time. By the time I decided to come back to DC Superboy had settled on this costume, which I discovered had pissed off many a fan:

 

The one in black is "our" Superboy, while the one in the regular super-suit is the evil one

So essentially the kid just put on a t-shirt and some jeans. Not very creative, but I guess if you’re pulling me out of a burning building I don’t really care what you’re wearing, just get me to safety, dammit!

The logic as I recall was that Superboy wanted to look cool, and to him costumes weren’t cool.

EMO SUPERBOY

The only problem here was every time I picked up a comic with him in it he was always crying into his corn flakes about every little thing. The fun-loving Superboy was officially gone and I don’t think he’ll ever be back.

Let me give you an example…

Original Superboy:

(rescues girl from fire)

  • Girl: “Thanks, Superboy!”
  • Superboy: “No problem, babe! The only thing hotter than that fire was you!
  • Girl: “Er…thank you?”
  • Superboy: Looks like you’re covered in soot. Wanna shower at my place?
  • Girl: “Huh?! Uh, what? No! No, thanks!”
  • Superboy: “Sure wish I had X-ray vision right about now.”
  • Girl (icily): “You can put me down now.”

New Emo Superboy:

  • Wonder Girl: “Hey Superboy, wanna have sex?”
  • Superboy: “No. I’m too sad to have sex.”
  • Wonder Girl: “Huh? What are you talking about?”
  • Superboy: “I’m a failure. I can’t live up to Superman’s legacy. Also I’m a clone of Lex Luthor and I’m not a real person and how will I ever go on waaahhhhhhhh sobsobsob…”
  • Wonder Girl: “Hey, I’m naked over here.”
  • Superboy: “Waaahhhhhhhhhhh snortsnortsnort.”
  • Wonder Girl: “Geeesh. What does a girl gotta do to get laid around here? Guess I’ll go see what Aquaman is up to.”

Yeah, so this is what I’m subjected to when I read Superboy now. I picked up the first two issues of his new series (sometimes I’ll buy two issues to give it a shot) and it was awful.

Usually if I don’t like a comic I’ll casually toss it over my shoulder and it lands wherever it lands. It will remain in that spot until I step on it or something and I finally feel like moving it.

Well, when I got done with these Superboys I LAUNCHED those mofos over my shoulder like one of those Olympic shot-putters.

The made a satisfying *splat* noise as they hit the wall. It was more enjoyment than I got from actually reading the comic.

Relaunch in 5…4…3…

So that’s why I don’t feel too bad about the impending relaunch. He can’t get much worse. Or at least the writing can’t. His new costume is AWFUL. Check this out:

 

Don't look directly at it!

And THIS:

 

Too late...I looked!

AARGH! My eyes! Whoa. That ain’t good, man. Not good. I hope you had your Puke Bucketâ„¢ nearby. I’m not gonna even get into talking about Robin’s costume…

I should mention that I’m not ripping on these guy’s actual art. Just the design of the costume. Hell, these guys are working in comics and I’m not. Still, I don’t know if these costumes are “design by committee” or otherwise watered down -something is not right, man.

The Hypertransitory Redesign

So with that said, now to finally get around to the whole point of this post. The new costume I drew up for Superboy. Here’s the character design stage:

 

Click to view larger

As you can see, I went back to the kind of 90’s fun style. His new “relaunch” costume has a vest, but I wanted the vest to be a little more colorful. Also as I recall, his original jacket had the all yellow “S” symbol on the back, too.

I do like the black from his t-shirt days, though, so instead of bare arms I’ve covered him from neck to toe in black.

The problem with all that black is you’ll lose the detail in the body when it’s solid black. So as you see in the pic above the black is lightened to a dark gray.

It actually becomes a lot of work to have solid black because you’ve really gotta think about how you pose the character to make sure they don’t just become a blob of black ink on the page.

Check out this same image but with solid black:

 

The black in the body is solid black with no detail. Click to view larger

It looks cool here, but if he were in action poses it could turn out badly without careful preparation.

Some of you die hard Super-fans will notice that the “S” symbol is a bit off. This is because Superman’s symbol has undergone a bit of a re-design, as you can see in these images:

So not only does the big guy lose his red underwear, but now they changed up his symbol! Oh, the indignity.

I actually like the new “S” though, so I had no problem with that. I did get used to drawing the old one though. I would never draw the “S”, I would always draw those yellow fish-type shapes inside of it.

And finally, back to my Superboy action shot. I posted a prelim of this one and the character study on my Facebook page, so jump on there to see some of this stuff early:

 

Threw some rocks in there for good measure...

And here’s a shot of the original pencil art used to create this:

The Wrap Up – With Freebies!

Now for the cool part. The giveaway stuff:

I reformatted this thing slightly into a screensaver version (1600 x 1200), plus there’s a hi-res jpeg version, too (3000 x 2400). Finally, for those of you into art and Photoshop, etc, I included the working PSD file for you all to play around with.

The font I used for the “Superboy” title is called Badaboom. It’s a free font from Blambot so if you’re interest go check that out. It’s against the license to distribute it so I can’t include it.

The other font for “THE BOY OF STEEL!” is called ITC Machine. Unfortunately it’s not free but if you really want it you can pick it up at the link.

Anyway, to get the file all you need to do is click the “Share to get” button. Once you’ve shared this awesome post via Twitter or Facebook you’ll automatically get the files. Sweet!

Oh yeah, for those of you who have somehow managed to defy Twitter and/or Facebook and you really want the files you can always email me from my contact page.

Also, for my fellow Triberr members on auto who don’t want to spam Twitter by tweeting my post twice you can always email me as well and I’ll hook you up.

If you don’t know what that last paragraph meant then head on over to Triberr and read up on it – you’ll be glad you did!

Well, that’s the ever-livin’, ever-lovin’ end of yet another Hypertransitory post. Stay tuned for the next character redesign. I haven’t decided yet who it will be so if you have any favorites then let me know. Until next time!

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27 thoughts on “Hypertransitory Re-Design: Superboy’s New Costume

  1. Yeeeeah…

    The head shot to the comic world was a bit of a mixed bag. Doomsday snuffing Superman back in ’92 was pretty awesome, but after that it just wasn’t the same. Not only that, but in our new age, maybe the “American Way” isn’t what is needed anymore. The arrogance of being the world’s police doesn’t go over very well, and America isn’t really about truth OR justice. Not while occupying several countries, anyway.

    But it will be a tragedy to reset Detective, especially since it’s so close to 1000 issues. C’mon. At least leave that!

    Ah well.

    Your Superboy costume is definitely better than the original. Remember: what has been seen cannot be unseen. They don’t make brain bleach for comics-induced trauma.

    Delena

    1. Yeah Delena, I thought the very act of them taking out Superman back then was cool, but they way it was done was kinda lackluster. Now Doomsday is back again in the current issues and it’s (somehow) even more lame!

      Man I’m gonna miss my Batman stuff. I was only getting Batman Inc regularly but I would pick up a Detective now and then if I was in the mood. I wonder how long it will be before they put everything back? I’m gonna bet on a solid year.

      Next summer will be another huge crossover and then it will all be back to normal. DC really needs to get it together and I don’t think this is the way…

  2. You are killing me! I wish I could draw so I could offer my perspective on this. Actually, I don’t need to draw to offer it; I like the original. Then again, I’m over 50 and have loved the blue with the red S since I was a little kid. I’m a traditionalist, which is why I was one of those old geeks upset when they were thinking about changing Wonder Woman’s outfit; sacrilegious! But your talent… man, I wish I could do this.

    1. Hey Mitch, it’s good to see you ’round these parts!

      Your perspective is always welcome here :)

      I think it’s like Frank Miller wrote in “The Dark Knight Strikes Again” : ‘Kids these days, they confuse OLD with CLASSIC.’

      So what’s your take on Superman losing his red underwear and the slight modification to the “S”?

      1. I like it better with the red underwear. This way it looks like a full tights outfit and not a cool one. I don’t even mind the S modification; either way it looks cool.

  3. Hi JG,
    I never knew about the character of Super boy .Well I am not that into Superman.I like Avengers and Flash more.However the costume that you’ve created is really nice.There has been a development a few days back I heard about that they have changes the costume of Superman too now he will wear jeans instead of that awkward underwear over his trousers.

    1. Hey Shivam, although I have my problems with Avengers these days -they’re still way better than Superman I must agree.

      The “jeans” costume of Superman is kind of a one-off, I think. It’s like it’s what he first wore before he really had his whole costume together. Or so they say. Check here for more reference:

      http://comicbook.com/blog/2011/06/14/supermans-new-costume-sparks-controversy-and-confusion/

      Like I said before -I wasn’t buying these DC comics anyway, so I *may* just drop a few dollars on some of the relaunches. Who knows, I might just stick around.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. i like read comics specially its entertaining and it’s good because they have good costume the kids likely to look at it we all know they not read it they just look the picture.i always read the superboy comics and its really nice.good job..

    1. Thanks, Andrew, it would be funny if someone at DC actually used it, but I Don’t think the character is in the same place now where the costume would “fit” his personality. Oh well!

  5. Hey,John,
    this was one fun drive and reminder of some retro DC characters along with your design of the Superboy’s costume.It is really cool…I was and I still am a Superman fan…and yes,I agree with you that comic book characters do not need to neccessarily grow up…why make them older and get rid of the fun?
    I sure liked your works,I’ll make sure to come back and pay you some more visits,if you don’t mind.

    1. hi Kristina, I’m also a Superman fan, though I absolutely hate the comics that are out now. they’re awful. that’s why at least with this relaunch I might actually pick one up. And please come back as often as you like ,there’s more to come :)

  6. Looks great! Only thing is, that the jacket looks very square in your drawing. It could have a little more shape. Other than this, great work! I wish i could draw like that.

    1. Thanks! I wanted to emphasize that this wasn’t a form-fitting usual spandex type of vest so that’s why I drew it that way. I like the look of it but it would be interesting to see another artist’s interpretation of it.

      Thanks for commenting!

  7. I have to say, yours is pretty awesome…definitely better than the real comics they’re putting out there!! Why do they keep dressing him like that? Like how they THINK a young superhero boy should dress. You’re talented, you show ’em how it’s done!

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