June 30, 2010 — -- After spending decades fighting crime in star-spangled spandex, the time has come for Wonder Woman to update her costume.
The powers that be at DC Comics are lowering her high heels and covering her up in black pants and a biker jacket.
"She still is supposed to be sexy," said Jim Lee, the longtime artist and co-publisher of DC Comics who created the new look, which debuts in Wonder Woman comic book No. 600.
"You want to keep the ideals of who Wonder Woman is. She's sexy, she's strong, she's powerful and she's this princess at the same time. But you want her to be a superhero that is taking on the most evil threats the world has seen, from demons to armies. You want to have a costume that speaks of that kind of ability and power."
The Amazon Princess has always been known as much for her super-sexy uniform of skin and sparkle as for her super powers.
So why mess with the icon now?
"I think that part of it is our job, our ability to take these characters and reinvigorate them and redefine them for every age," said Lee. "I mean, these are characters that were great in the '40s and '50s, and if you don't take that chance with them, if you don't take that risk, you end up with characters of previous generations that no one has interest in."
When DC Comics introduced Wonder Woman in 1941, she looked a lot like the modern version, but wore a knee-length skirt. It gradually shrank in the decade that followed. By the 1950s, she was wearing the hot pants that would later make Lynda Carter famous.
"When I draw Wonder Woman in her classic costume it looks normal to me, but when I see it on TV on Lynda Carter, I can't help but go, 'Oh my God, she's half naked,'" said Lee.
"I think it will take time for people to get over not seeing a lot of leg," said Carter, the actress and singer who played the character in the 1970s television series. "[But] I think it's going to be very sexy and it's new and I love the little cap sleeve. You know, she's a hip girl."
Carter, who spoke to ABC News from Nashville, where she was at work recording a new album, says it's in keeping with the character.
"I think Wonder Woman has a mind of her own. And I think she was just kind of ready for something new. She's got an attitude and if this is the new thing that she wants to wear, well, by God, she's going to wear it. And I like that. And I hope that in the story someone mentions, where's the old one? And she says, get over it!"
While her threads may be new, not everything else is. Creators made certain that her stars, tiara and Lasso of Truth were all kept in the new design.
"They're all there, but they're kind of toned down and played back a little bit so they're not screaming out," said Lee. "We really took a lot of iconic elements of the costume and made it more functional, more wearable."
DC Comics has only once taken away those signature elements from Wonder Woman's look. In 1968, writers took away her powers. They saw Diana Prince, her alter ego, as a modern woman – a sort of superwoman with no powers, fighting crime with only her wits – and a hefty dose of martial arts. But fans and feminists revolted.
Gloria Steinem put a giant-sized Wonder Woman on the first cover of Ms. Magazine, proclaiming that DC Comics had "stripped the character of her power." DC Comics subsequently restored her powers – and her costume.
DC's Jim Lee says fans upset about the latest changes should try to put themselves in Wonder Woman's boots.
"If you or I were wearing the Wonder Woman costume, we'd be very aware we were wearing it, you know, essentially a swimsuit, fighting crime. So we created a costume that is essentially more functional, more protective," said Lee.
"Part of what we do is we have these heroes that are sort of modern mythology, but at the same time, you can't create them so they're so lofty, so different from how we look that you can't identify with them. I think part of the storyline is redefining Wonder Woman to be more like one of us."