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A new look for Superman and other superheroes: What do you think?

Comic book trackers say Superman - and his red briefs - first hit comic books in 1938 in the Action Comics title. The book tells the origin story of Superman and includes the first appearance of his love interest Lois Lane. Today Action Comics Issue No. 1 is among the most valuable comic books in the world. The Man of Steel got a namesake comic book in 1939. Superman has had many starring roles, including this black-and-white TV series in the 1950s and the Christopher Reeve film in the 1970s.

But many in Metropolis - and elsewhere -- have struggled with our hero's fashion faux pas. The 1990s remake "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" even features a costume-selection montage, poking fun at other comic book classics as well as Clark Kent's threads.

But now DC Comics is relaunching and remaking its 52 titles with entirely new looks and storylines. DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee said he imagined a Superman with a bright red belt, hair that's no longer "a concrete spit curl... impervious to wind and movement" and a costume made from segmented armor (you can see a peek of his new costume in the image above). Why, you ask, should the Man of Steel need anything more substantial than spandex to protect him? Lee says the answer is in the storyline.

Superman is certainly not the only character who's struggle in the style department. Lee says Aquaman has gone through a rough patch for basically his entire existence. Aquaman's new look features details that resemble fish scales. That's certainly a change from Aquaman's old look. In this cartoon from the '60s, the King of the Seven Seas looks more like a Ken doll that swims...

We'd love to hear what you think of this ocean dweller's costume, as well as any others in the DC relaunch. Listen to my story on today's Marketplace show, and view a slideshow of some of the relaunched characters, including Wonder Woman, Catwoman, and the Green Lantern.

About the author

Jennifer Collins is a reporter for the Marketplace portfolio of programs. She is based in Los Angeles, where she covers media, retail, the entertainment industry and the West Coast.
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DC Comics' real problem stems from its 1930's origins, one that leaves its characters effectively conservative. Marvel Comics tracked a 1960's liberal streak, especially with the X-MEN and its spinoffs. Dark Horse went more radical and nihilistic with characters like Spawn in the post-USSR 1990's. Until DC Comics can deal with social justice issues, they will be two-to-three generations behind the curve, even beyond the problem of digital vs. analog distribution models. How is that WONDER WOMAN reboot going with David E. Kelley? Is GREEN LANTERN among 2011's worst movies?

There was a series of Superman episodes--something like "Clan of the Burning Cross"--that dealt with racism and the KKK. If they're behind the times now, that's the current generation's fault. It hasn't always been that way.

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