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While the announcement of a redesign for Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris sounds like just a big PR stunt, the move to cover them up and bring on new female creators shows that this whole “comics are for everyone” is not just a sound bite. Artist Nicola Scott designed the new costumes, which are a but more modest than previous garb. All three characters have been in and out of the “bad Girl” comics tag the 90s; all have certainly been portrayed in sexualized situations in the past. but this is a new comics era and it’s better to have a wider audience, even for books about women who battle in skimpy clothes. Red Sonja has the most new coverage, with a costume much more like her original appearance by Barry Windsor Smith than the famous chainmail bikini.

The relaunches will be guided by Gail Simone, following the trail started in the Swords of Sorrows mini series. Red Sonja #1 will launch in January, helmed by writer Marguerite Bennett and artist Aneke. Dejah Thoris #1 and Vampirella #1 will debut in subsequent months, written by Frank J. Barbiere and Kate Leth.

Gotta admit, Vampirella’s biker shorts remind me of the 90s and Wonder Woman’s similar look, but hey, nice boots. Trina Robbins designed Vampi’s original costume and I suspect we’ll see that back at some point.
Here’s the PR:

Red Sonja #1, by the creative team of Marguerite Bennett (Bombshells, A-Force, Angela) and Aneke (Legenderry: Red Sonja, Damsels) and scheduled for release on January 13, 2016, will see its titular heroine return to her homeland of Hyrkania, only to find it changed into an almost unrecognizable landscape. As envisioned by Gail Simone, the new series sends Sonja on a mission of infiltration, sabotage, and assassination when she discovers that her native people have been conscripted into the service of a Nazi-like regime.

”It’s an honor and a pleasure to be the new writer on a book as crazy and colorful as Red Sonja,” says Bennett. “While I’ve never yet had the pleasure of working with Aneke, our phenomenal new artist, I cannot wait for us to make the big, bloody, sexy, sweeping splash in a universe this rich with story, history, and the contributions of the creators and creatives who came before us. I am particularly indebted to Gail Simone, who has always been one of my idols in comics, who first suggested that I follow her run on the title and was endlessly guiding and encouraging as I broke into this new level of the medium.”

Dynamite will celebrate the new Red Sonja #1 with a variety of cover options, including Cover A by Marguerite Sauvage (Bombshells); Cover B by Jay Anacleto (Legends of Red Sonja) which will interconnect with the Cover B editions of Dejah Thoris #1 and Vampirella #1; and Cover C by Tula Lotay (Swords of Sorrow). A special Subscription Edition (Cover D) features the “cute” artwork of Tony Fleecs, intended for consumers who place preorders with their local comic shops and interconnecting with the Subscription Edition variants ofDejah Thoris #1 and Vampirella #1. Robert Hack (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) provides cover artwork for the Shared Retailer Exclusive, and a Blank Authentix cover variant is available, perfect for aspiring artists and convention commissions. Finally, Ming Doyle (New Avengers) provides a special incentive cover to encourage strong preorders from comic shop retailers, as does Nicola Scott with an image of her first redesign of the character.
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Dejah Thoris, a royal warrior who has served as a major supporting cast member of Dynamite’s various Warlord of Mars series as well as the star of several solo Dejah Thoris series, will appear in a new #1 issue this coming February, courtesy of writer Frank J. Barbiere (Avengers World, Solar: Man of the Atom). As described by Gail Simone, Dejah Thoris would present a fall from grace for the Martian princess, as she embarks on a self-imposed exile, assuming a new identity and enlisting as a rookie soldier on the farthest, deadliest borders of her Barsoomian civilization.

Barbiere says, “I am truly honored to be writing Dejah Thoris, a character with such a robust history and celebrated pulp pedigree. I’m a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and to be able to contribute to the canon of one of his most celebrated characters is really exciting. This is a new start for Dejah Thoris, and I think our story is going to reignite the spark of what makes her great. It’s a bold new take that really captures the spirit of Dejah as a dynamic, interesting, and capable character while exploring her past in a way that fans new and old won’t expect.”
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Vampirella #1, debuting in March 2016, will feature the writing talents of Kate Leth (Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors), and see a return to the character’s roots as a horror hostess, as her costumed identity goes public… while privately, she uses her new celebrity status to uncover the links between silver screen killers and a real conspiracy of monsters.

Kate Leth, writer of the new Vampirella, says, “Vampirella takes Hollywood! In this new and twisted take on the classic horror queen, Vampi moves to the City of Angels to find more than a few demons in the mix. Along with her paramour/werewolf Tristan and trusty butler Coleridge, she begins to investigate mysterious disappearances in the shadowy world of B-movies and the monsters who make them. All the while, she finds herself a sudden sensation after a video of her monster-hunting in her classic ensemble goes viral. Can Vampirella be both a cult icon on the rise and take down an empire of ghouls and ghosts? Signs point to: Hell yes!”

Regarding the redesign of one of comics’ most iconic costumes, Nicola Scott says, “Vampirella was a lot of fun. We could actually make her modern, with some retro influence. I liked the idea of keeping her in a one-piece but making it a leather jumpsuit with her logo embroidered on the back. Part biker, part roller-derby. I hope to see cosplayers in this one ASAP!”

18 COMMENTS

  1. This is a move long-overdue for Red Sonja particularly. Keeping her exclusively in the chain-mail bikini was about as sensible as limiting Conan’s wardrobe to bare chest, loincloth and boots.

  2. Really digging Red Sonja’s redesign. Dejah Thoris looks pretty neat too, except that the short-shorts plus gauzy skirt is a bit strange. I think either element would work on its own, but together they just look kind of off. Vampirella looks nice from the waist up, but I really don’t know what that outfit is trying to do with the bike shorts and boots. All in all, though, I like most of this.

  3. Why not create new characters that weren’t created to be spank material for teenage boys decades ago?
    Rather than changing incredibly sexualized female characters created by men to appeal to women now, why not abandon them to comic’s dark history and make new characters that don’t have that baggage?

  4. @jacob: Because, I imagine, Dynamite pays good money for the license to these characters, and they weren’t selling enough books as “spank material for teenage boys” (now mostly middle-aged men), so they’re hoping to attract a larger audience of female readers to turn a better profit on their investment, betting that these unlikely redesigns will attract more attention than entirely new characters.

    I agree with you completely, by the way.

    Oh, and Heidi, the reference to the 90s bad-girl phenomenon doesn’t seem too apt. Vampirella and Sonja established their classic looks in the 70s, as I’m sure you know, and Dejah Thoris wasn’t prominent in the 90s.

  5. Dynamite has a long way to go to make readers forget what was mostly a catalog of over-sexualised women displayed on covers. Deja Thoris was probably the worst. Seems like a u turn, better late than never. I’ll let other people pick it and see if this is only a relaunch PR stunt or a real move.

  6. Vampirella’s new costume is terrible! She’s a vampire, not a superheroine, for crissake! Her original costume is iconic. I just returned from Russia comic con where there were two women in Vampirella costumes, the original Vampirella.

  7. It’s better to have a wider audience? The sales charts don’t back that claim up. When is all this social justice going to translate into higher sales? Because nearly everything is falling by double digits. Those bad girl 90s comics moved a lot of units and brought in a lot of fans in their heyday. And it wasn’t just boys who read them, not even close. And most of those bad girls were creator owned and self published books that gave the big publishers a run for their money.

  8. I agree with Trina-that Vampi costume is not good. Look at it-close your eyes and try to remember it. It’s an over-complicated mess. The easiest way to update her costume is just to make the cutouts smaller.

  9. shows that this whole “comics are for everyone” is not just a sound bite.’

    if by everyone you mean faggots and women.

  10. @Doctor comix – I’m sorry every book is not currently aimed at you. Any book not aimed at you is not ‘social justice’. Get over it. Move on, grow up, etc.

    Red Sonja is higher profile than she’s been in years due to Gail Simone; Dynamite is trying to sell more books. People like you obviously aren’t enough for them to merit putting the books out as is.

  11. What in the hell is Vampirella doing with a utility belt and crossbow? That makes about as much sense as giving the Enchantress a hardhat and machine gun. Vampirella’s redesign should have been more akin to the changes they’ve made with Emma Frost over the years. Trina Robbins is SO right. Ridiculous. Also, 90’s comic books called, they want their raggedy cloak back.

  12. If there’s any issue, it’s with Red Sonja’s “redesign” It feels like they didn’t know what to do and just threw a sheet over her. “Are you cold? Here!”

  13. Sonja’s design looks more caped superhero than fantasy warrior. They’d have done better to just use Eric Trautmann’s tack in the first volume and use the cleaner warrior look that she was introduced with Conan 23. Straight up mail shirt, leather pants and boots. That cape, yeesh, no peripheral vision in a fight really isn’t a good idea and all that material is a good way to tie up hands and legs in a fight. Edna Mode is absolutely right, ‘No Capes!’

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