Who wears short shorts? Superman. That's right, the Man of Steel. At least he used to squeeze into a pair of bright red undies.
That changed in 2011 as a result of DC Comics' line-wide reboot of the publisher's characters, dubbed "The New 52" -- a marketing tagline that was (finally) dropped following the end of DC's recent "Convergence" miniseries -- with Ol' Supes losing his famous outer underwear; underwear he had been sporting since his debut in 1938's Action Comics No. 1.
I understand that even fictional superheroes who spend their days and nights fighting mind-controlling starfish and evil, power-hungry industrialists, need to update their wardrobe from time to time. I get it. I really do.
But four years after Superman's cosmetic redesign -- his strongman-inspired costume replaced by a slightly bulkier armored look, complete with a collar and red belt -- I still find it hard to pick up an issue of Superman, Action Comics or any other title featuring the last son of Krypton without immediately thinking, "Something is amiss."
It is true that Superman's costume, prior to the arrival of "The New 52," gradually changed over time as artists tweaked and updated the design to fit with the times. (Remember when Superman grew out a mullet? Oh, the '90s.) Yet the various modifications -- the exception being the capeless electric Blue and Red Superman -- kept the basic composition of the blue suit, "S" chest symbol, red cape, red boots and, yes, red underwear. It was an iconic look that carried over into merchandise, animation, film and television for more than 70 years.
In the current "Truth" storyline, Superman's powers have been significantly dialed down and his famous spit curl is gone (replaced by a military-style buzzcut). Clark Kent's alter-ego now rocks the jeans-and-T-shirt-motif. Sure, he is still, at his core, Superman. And there are plenty of readers out there who think "No cape? No problem!" That's fine.
I just happen to be in the group who, as goofy as it may look in 2015, would love nothing more than to read an issue of Action Comics and see Superman swoop into Metropolis in his classic duds and throw down with whichever villain happens to be terrorizing the city that week. Call me nostalgic. Call me a curmudgeon. I miss the red underwear, dammit. (There, I said it.)
That is why it is nice seeing DC pay homage to Superman's various looks over the decades on the variant cover of this week's issue of Superman (No. 42). The image, part of DC's Teen Titans GO!-themed August variant covers, shows Superman standing in front of his closet, back to the viewer, clad in just red boxer briefs, trying to choose a costume in which to suit up. (My favorite is the Fleischer Brothers-inspired design from the 1940s Superman cartoon shorts.) It is a fun little slice of nostalgia, though it makes me yearn even more for the Superman stories of my youth.
Superman No. 42 went on sale today. If you are looking for a copy, you can find the nearest comic book store through FindaComicShop.com.
Now scram and get out of my yard, hippie!