90s Week: Back to the Drawing Board with Bruce Wayne

In 1995 a team of "archaeologists" at DC discovered Bruce Wayne’s long lost collection of concept sketches for his costume. These sketches were released in the form of an Elseworld entitled Batman: Knight Gallery, and let me tell you, it has not aged well.

From these historic drawings we learn that:

a) Bruce Wayne was ahead of his time in terms of costume design;
b) Bruce Wayne has terrible ideas, and
c) Bruce Wayne draws a lot like some of the top artistic talent at DC circa 1995 (and also Jim Balent)

By the way, I hope you like pointy shoulders, because you are going to be seeing a lot of them.

My favourite thing about the above design is that the Bat-emblem is a brooch. My least-favourite thing is everything else. But as you will soon see, this is probably the best costume design of the lot.

The answers to his shoulder questions are yes, yes, and yes. Also: they look ridiculous. And I would have to think that his cape being feathered that way on the bottom would make gliding difficult. And it has an ugly belt and it’s Not dark enough.

Well this gives "sharp dresser" a whole new meaning.

Ears better – more fierce & intimidating. Also, can make shish kabobs on them.

Some vision and snag concern re shoulder hooks & gauntlet projections. SOME?! SOME?! Nothing could be within a foot and a half of him without getting stabbed.

"Robin, you head that way and I’ll…oh shit, sorry Robin."

And what are the shoulder spikes good for? Does he have a problem with seagulls landing on him? (Also, this one was designed by James "Jim" Balent, who I am sure needs no introduction).

Bruce is worried that this look is "too fancy." I am more concerned by the fact that it is "too stupid," "too ugly," and looks "too much like Batman is being sucked down the drain."

I don’t really see how this design would hinder agility more than the pointy ones.

We have the hilarious bat-emblam-as-brooch look going on again here, and we have a right shoulder adornment that I cannot figure out at all. I am also not sure how he puts the boots on.

Oh, I don’t know if it sacrifices all of the fear factor. I would be pretty scared if I saw anyone wearing this. Because they would look crazy. I am picturing this entire suit being made out of crushed velvet in royal blue and shiny grey.

Bruce Wayne and I clearly have different definitions of "good."

This is…I just…

And you know if 1995 dudes were looking at this page and saying "Oh man, that is so wicked!"

And in case you were wondering what it might look like in red:

How would he even fit in the Batmobile with those things on his shoulders?

But wait, it gets worse:

It certainly is memorable, but I don’t know about striking. Confusing is a better adjective. Why would he need hooks all the way up his thighs?

I am trying to picture Batman, whenever this was supposed to be (the past), sketching this thing. And being ok with it. Considering it.

I think I am actually going to keep this page in a drawer somewhere so when my future children ask me what the 90s were like I’ll just show them that. And they will cry.

I would say it is more than "verging" on the bizarre. It has kicked bizarre in the nuts and just kept running. As for not being terrifying, well…I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I was cornered at a party by someone wearing it.

But how about the Donnie Darko rabbit look?:

It also looks very uncomfortable. And I doubt it breathes well.

Y’know, even if you did as he suggests and combine the best elements of each of these designs, you would still have a truly hideous costume.

There were also some Robin costume concepts, which were…not great…

So there are a bunch of reasons why the 1990s was an ugly and regrettable decade for superhero comics.To DC’s credit, at least they just put out this Elseworld book of crazy 90s costumes instead of actually changing Batman’s costume to one of these. At least until Azrael showed up.

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24 Responses to “90s Week: Back to the Drawing Board with Bruce Wayne”

  1. Dave says:

    Joe Quesada’s Azrael-Batman redesign looks downright restrained next to these.

  2. Will Emmons says:

    This is excellent.

    I remain you’re biggest fan.

  3. Andrew says:

    The “page 13″ one is a swirling void of madness. I found myself staring at it for way too long.

    Like some hideous lave lamp….. can’t….. look away… duhhhhhhh……

  4. Scott says:

    I love alternate costumes, variant costumes, and glimpses of how costumes were designed but this looks like it has none of those things. I think it’s awesome that they went ahead and said “Yeah, the shoulder spikes are ridiculous and shouldn’t be here, but we’re going to have several more examples of the same.” There isn’t much range of design here.

    Paul Pope’s Year 100 is awesome particularly because of the great backup extras about the costume design.

  5. doron says:

    i happen to own this comic and thought it was pretty cool when i first got it ( i was around ten)
    there is an elseworlds story where Ras al ghul fights batman and talia’s son (I think), and it involves people wearing all the costumes in the sketchbook to form an evil army of Batmen. The demon one obviously for Ra’s himself.

  6. Russell says:

    Some of these are so close to the actual costume that the criticism feels weak, like you are criticising them just because they come from this 90s Elseworlds book.

    On the other hand, some of them are just daft.

  7. DoktorAndy says:

    Hilarious! Excellent commentary!

  8. Jason says:

    Was the commentary in the book written by the editor? Imagine…you’re a hotshot ’90s artist submitting your vision for Batman OF TODAY and putting painstaking effort into drawing all the shoulder spikes and extra abdominal muscles…and some editor office drone craps all over your work with practical notes about freedom of movement and color.

  9. Kevin says:

    The alternate red version made me think of Spawn who had just emerged on the comic scene just a brief three years previous. Coincidence? I think not.

  10. Bill D. says:

    I remember this book coming out, and the book that one of the posters above mentioned that actually features an army of Batmen wearing them, and I remember that these were supposedly the other post-Knightfall Batman redesigns submitted by various artists, and that even though they went with Quesada’s, they felt the obviously misguided need to do something with the others anyway. I’m not sure if I read that somewhere at the time or just made it up because I thought it sounded good, but that was always my understanding.

  11. Sallyp says:

    How in God’s name does he manage to go to the bathroom, or drive a car, or fight, or even…sit down? If he falls on one of those pointy things, he’s going to do a lot more damage to himself than any villain.

    Oh, the 90’s. I used to think that the 70’s were just awful when it came to clothes, but these are horrendous.

    And Hilarious.

  12. jason says:

    were these all designed by rob “i actually draw worse as i get older because i haven’t bothred to learn jack shit about anatomy or costume design despite the fact that i’ve been in the buiness for almost 20 years” leifeld

  13. stephanie says:

    “not dark enough” goes straight to black metal logo real quick.

  14. legba says:

    Ah, the 90’s–a time when superheroes were plagued by pesky shoulder points. That’ll learn ‘em not to hang their wet capes on cheap wire hangers!

  15. bill4935 says:

    I too also remain you are biggest fan.

  16. Nimbus says:

    That last Robin costume looks like one of those used more recently.

    And I like how it says “Fireproof cape essential” considering Jason Todd’s little, erm, incident a few years before this was published.

  17. Andrew says:

    “Remember to death-proof Robin this time. That was a really embarrassing gaff on my part.”

  18. Rob Ullman says:

    I occasionally wonder why there are no super hero comics from the years 1993-2001 in my collection. This post is my answer.

  19. ryanlb says:

    Apparently, I am a 90s kind of guy, because despite the incredible impracticality, and almost comical nature of those costumes, I really like a lot of them. If it weren’t for the 90s, I don’t think I’d be interested in comics.

  20. Lore says:

    Thank you for this awful blast from ghastly comics past. After all these years, I still feel angry at having paid actual MONEY for that garbage. I didn’t see the humor in it until now! Oh, and I agree that Grummett’s design was the only one worth a second glance. Brgds

  21. adriana says:

    OH MY GOD. i cannot breathe, this is so funny. oh my god. i would have SO bought this when i was little too! i like how he says “get rid of shoulder hooks” and then there are a million more with even more hooks.

  22. grifter says:

    so that’s where Stryfe took his costume from.

  23. Batfan1939 says:

    I liked the one Batman said “transcended evil”. Besides, if a costume doesn’t scare him, how’s it supposed to frighten the truly evil?

    I also liked the last batsuit; familiar, yet more stylish.

    Padded suits weren’t the fanciest, yet some of my favourites…

    …and the first suit is what Batman’s costume would look like in real life.

    The others were inexcusably bad, save the “shish kabob” suit (it only needed to be toned down – he was right about the arms and legs being uniform, preferably the black/dark blue color up top, and the spikes should be shorter).

    HATE the shoulder spikes, though it’s kind of stupid that he says they’re impractical, and should be eliminated, IN EVERY DRAWING!

    Personally, if I were Tim, that “pirate look” – which I would qualify more as a “jungle exploreer look” – would quite effectively keep me from being cocky…heck, I wouldn’t leave the cave!

    Second suit was awesome. Just replace the spikes with golden “birdarangs”.

  24. Great looks for Batman. i am a huge fan

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