Following this week's edition of Blud-Blud, The Nacireman explains why Superman and his red shorts need to be reunited.
Just when you think that the debate over Superman’s New-52 “Kryptonian Armor” and his classic suit with the red shorts (or “underwear” as some of the more low-information types dub it) has died down, along comes Blud-Blood to revive it. In case you missed it, the Blud-Blood crew debated amongst themselves over the two unis in this weeks edition of the perennial OH comic strip. Naturally, things didn’t quite get resolved, so more level-headed people such as myself have to explain why the classic Superman uniform was better, and the current “armor” pretty much sucks.
First, let’s get the “underwear” mess out of the way. It’s not underwear and never was. Superman’s classic uniform was based on the one-piece leotards worn by the circus strongmen and other circus performers. Tights would sometimes be worn over the leotards, giving them the appearance of what many would consider to be underwear.
That look may seem archaic, but many athletes of the modern world will wear gym shorts over tights in colder weather, or when involved with high-endurance activities like cross-fit training or events like Tuff Mudder or Spartan Race.
Need proof? Here’s America’s favorite overrated backup quarterback, Tim Tebow.
Okay, you need an athlete that’s actually accomplished something outside of college? Here’s Kobe Bryant doing so in an NBA game (before David Stern got anal and banned players from doing so.)
That said, it is becoming more normal to see men in shirts over tights. So Superman doing so in a modern setting shouldn’t be too unusual.
With that out of the way, it’s time to get down for the more serious reason Superman needs the red shorts - aesthetics. Without the red shorts, the Kryptonian “armor” is a little boring. It turns out that he “S” shield and and cape really don’t do enough to make the armor work on their own. It’s not like Batman’s uni, which can work without shorts because the cowl, with it’s bat-ears and long black cape is such a dominating feature. Or Spider-Man’s costume, where the webbing up top and the mask hide the lack of design features in the leg area.
The issue with Supe’s costume may be in its blue color. Blue really doesn’t work as the main color of a costume as well as other colors do. Those kind of costumes really need a lot of additional design features to make them stand out. Captain America’s suit, for example, has the star, red-and-white stripes around the torso, white sleves, and the texture from the chain mail make it such a dynamic costume. If it only had the star, it would be a lot less inspiring. Also, like Batman’s costume, Cap’s uni has a very striking mask to serve to catch the reader’s eye.
What does adding the red shorts do to Superman’s costume? It ends up breaking the monotony of the blue color. It gives the costume enough of a splash of color to be something dynamic. Adding the trunks gives the costume a more unified look, in that there’s more to it than just a shirt with a giant “S” on it.
The shorts also serve as a reminder of what Superman that essentially a strongman. He is a hero whose primary powers are physical. Look at the iconic images of Superman through his history: The cover of Action Comics #1, where he lifts up the automobile. Or the legendary Neal Adams cover, where he breaks through chains made of (temporarily-made powerless against Superman) Kryptonite. The shorts truly help promote the idea that Kal-El is truly the most strongest being on the planet.
Are the shorts archaic? Not in the sense that shorts worn over tights is common among athletes and fitness buffs. Do they actually provide Superman’s costume any use? In an ascetic way, yes. Would Supes’ be better off with the shorts? Quite so. The new costume is as boring of a costume that is out there. Hopefully, DC will come to their senses and restore the red shorts to Superman’s costume where they belong. Which will probably happen as soon as sales drop a few thousand more copies further than they already have.