The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

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Mr. Comic Book
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The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by Mr. Comic Book »

Not many people remember this, but immediately following "Knightfall" and "Prodigal" (where Dick Grayson had a brief spell in the Batsuit while Bruce was out of town), DC decided they wanted to give Bruce a brand-new costume -- complete with embossed covers of varying darkness -- to signify that he was ready to get back in the game full-time. So with much hype and fanfare, a cross-title story called "Troika" served to introduce a revamped Batsuit designed by Vince Giarrano.

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This new suit was still gray and blue (although the colorist never colored it consistently, even doing it as brown a few times), but the blue was restricted to the mask and cape. The bodysuit was a gray one-piece with built-in boots and gloves, both sporting the traditional Batman spines. It didn't go over very well with the artists, so three-quarters into its four-part debut storyline, this suit was scrapped, with the explanation that it didn't provide Bruce with enough protection.

For context, here's how it looked in full color, when Adrienne Roy remembered that Batman's colors are gray and blue.

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At any rate, this suit didn't even last thru its debut story arc, and got replaced with a no-trunks version of Batman's classic suit that lasted until 2000.
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I've shown the Troika Batsuit to various artists at comic cons, and the overwhelming response to it is that it's a dud. Nearly everyone's complained that there's not enough balance between the gray and blue, and that the boot spines would pose a huge risk of Batman getting tangled in his cape or getting his legs caught on stuff. Personally, I think it's an interesting design, but I don't think it should be Batman's regular look, and I am glad the old boots and gloves came back.

Any thoughts on this lost Batsuit?
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SprangFan
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by SprangFan »

Hated it, and it contributed to my decision to sell off my Batman comic collection starting with "Knightfall", through "Prodigal" and up to "Troika," never to return. It was my farewell to comics.

That's not all on the suit, mind you (it just cemented my belief that things had been bad a long time, and showed no sign of improving), but it's awful. I'd also forgotten how much I hated Kelly Jones' art, with its deformed faces and anatomy. His Batman suffers from poor posture generally, and seemed to strike ridiculous poses in simple conversations, which if brought to the screen would draw bigger laughs than anything on the '66 show. In that first color panel above, he looks like he's relieving himself.

I agree about the "leg fins" and if we're going to bring real-world practicality to it, those ridiculous ears would rule out any Batmobile but a convertible. Maybe the reason Jones' Batman always seems stoop-shouldered is because he has to get through doorways.
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John Mack
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by John Mack »

A low point in the adventures for sure. Not sure it's the lowest the series has ever gotten. What are some ideas on that? I'd be curious to hear you guys on that. Some would says it's the 1950's adventures story wise.
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SprangFan
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by SprangFan »

The 50s get a bad rap for the sci-fi stories that tried, incongruously, to ape the more successful Superman books, but there were a lot of great tales tucked behind those "tranformations and aliens" covers as well, focusing on Earthbound crooks and interesting travels abroad.

For me, it got worse in the 60s with "New Look" stories like the Outsider saga, and way too much Moldoff and too little Infantino. Prior to the 90s, that was the period I least enjoyed.

Lately I'm reading the early 80s period -- mostly by Gerry Conway -- that focuses an awful lot on soap-opera subplots involving a love triangle between Bruce, Vicki Vale and Catwoman. I remember being bored by it at the time and nostalgia's only giving it a partial polish in hindsight. This is the stuff that led to Miller's "Dark Knight Returns," because Miller said ( not without merit) that Batman had lost his edge and gotten "fat and happy." I welcomed DKR as a fun " alternate reality" tale but if I'd known it would kick off 30+ years on in-continuity darkness, I may not have embraced it so eagerly.

I can't really dump too much on the 90s to the present, since I've only followed it through third-hand sources and news stories. Suffice to say nothing's happened to tempt me back in a long time.
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AndyFish
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by AndyFish »

I would say the most recent run of Batman has been the worst in it's 80 year history. Batman as a whiney child is worse than the psychotic Batman of the 80s. I stuck around for one issue and left.

This costume was wretched, and while I appreciate the style of Jones, it does often veer into ridiculous territory. I thought the costume was an attempt to bring the Keaton suit to comics.
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Mr. Comic Book
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by Mr. Comic Book »

SprangFan wrote: Mon Nov 25, 2019 4:49 am I agree about the "leg fins" and if we're going to bring real-world practicality to it, those ridiculous ears would rule out any Batmobile but a convertible. Maybe the reason Jones' Batman always seems stoop-shouldered is because he has to get through doorways.
Funny you mention that. Jones had two different solutions to the Batmobile issue:

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In Red Rain (the first installment in the Elseworlds vampire trilogy), the Batmobile was indeed an open-top job. In the mainline comics, Jones gave the Batmobile an enlarged canopy to accommodate Batman's ears.

I'll let you decide if either was a successful approach.
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SprangFan
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by SprangFan »

That convertible is a hoot! I'm imagining it sounding like Jack Benny's old "Maxwell."

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=17N2g2Ryqi8

Even with the bubble top, he's gotta bend over the wheel like Grandma driving to bingo night.

Also gotta love panel 3 on the top page, with Batman taking a stealthy pose on an architectural detail from Mos Eisley Cantina.

I'm open to highly stylized art styles, like Mike Mignola for instance, and I'd place Jones in a similar "individuality over slavish realism" camp, but it often felt like he was exaggerating stuff just to see how much he could get away with. I felt he was always "aware" of his weirdness and it never felt like organic self-expression so much as "watch how weird I make it THIS time." It took me out of the story in the same way as Jim Carrey's " look how funny I am" mugging took me out of his films.

I might have been more forgiving if Jones could get through a whole page where a character looked the same throughout. Often until I read the word balloons, I wasn't sure whether Bruce Wayne was delivering a monologue for six panels or having a conversation with two other guys.

I preferred Berni Wrightson, basically the same Batman before drinking a case of Muscle Milk and spending three weeks on an exercise bike to turn his thighs into hamhocks.

Now I remember what got me to quit. The comics moved to glossy paper and went up in price, leaving me to ask, "why am I paying extra for a high-quality printing of sub par material?"
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by NJ_Batfan »

I lost all interest in mainstream (read "in continuity") Batman comics by this time. Stylized artwork has its place, but how could Batman even hold his head up with the ears on that cowl?

For my money, the best Batman comics of the 90s were the adaptations of the animated series. They were mostly "done in one" stories that did not collapse under their own weight from being part of a "this changes everything" event that would change back soon after...or in the case of this costume, change in mid-story. Most of The Batman Adventures featured work by the late, great Mike Parobeck ,who could convey more with a simple facial expression than many of the era's so-called superstars could with busy linework and exaggerated anatomy. I haven't read those issues in a while, so maybe my mind is clouded with nostalgia, but at the time, they were favorite Batman comics and, in fact, the only ones that I still have from that era.
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by allknighters »

Wow! Totally forgot about that hideous Batsuit!
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Keith Mayo
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by Keith Mayo »

AndyFish wrote: Mon Nov 25, 2019 3:15 pm I would say the most recent run of Batman has been the worst in it's 80 year history. Batman as a whiney child is worse than the psychotic Batman of the 80s. I stuck around for one issue and left.
I don't really care for modern comics, mainly due to the artwork. I have, however really enjoyed Mark Wagner's two series runs - Batman and the Mad Monk & Batman and the Monster Men. It's probably due to them being an homage to Golden Age Batman and the fact that I'm impressed when someone can write and draw a comic by themselves. Now that I think of it they really aren't "modern" as they were published in 2006.
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Yellow Oval
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by Yellow Oval »

That was one god-awful look they tried to push on him. Looking from then to now that didn't stop DC at all in their quest to warp Batman (and the others), did it? For me, asides from the first part of the Knightfall saga (the second half was pure garbage) and the No Man's Land series, I didn't get into where Batman was being taken at all in the '90s. Basically, Batman was on life support then and when I did venture into the comic stores, and saw how much he was being changed, I swear I heard the beeping of the heart machine in my mind and sensing he was going to flatline in the not-too-distant future.

Color me correct as when the 2000s hit and gushing DiDio, ever-smilin' Lee, "genius" Johns, and the rest of the clown car took the editorial/publisher driver's seats, a lone bugle somewhere in the distance played 'Taps' for me and all true Batman and comic lovers. I was out and so were my friends who also collected with some returning to the comic store only to unload their entire collections in disgust (this also included some Marvel fans as things were happening there as well). Though I still collect DC items related to older times, for me, DC Comics died around 20 years ago.

For what it's worth, I think that open air Bat-convertible belongs more in Riverdale as it looks like Archie's jalopy bouncing off the road.
"Hmmm... I don't like the twist this joke is taking. Let us away! Let us away!"
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SprangFan
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by SprangFan »

For what it's worth, I think that open air Bat-convertible belongs more in Riverdale as it looks like Archie's jalopy bouncing off the road.
From that "smiley face" chassis, I think it's more likely a repainted "Speed Buggy."

I may check out those Matt Wagner books if I can find them free in the library or on Hoopla; he's great. I liked his Batman/Grendel team-up and got him to sign it at a con.

A year or so ago I flipped through a Batman book and was totally lost; they're up to a half-dozen or so Robins or ex-Robins now, one of whom is his birth son (!), some sidekick named after the bat-signal(?), a super-powered Gotham Girl, the umpteenth version of the Huntress, a couple of Batgirls...for a guy presented as a social loner, this guy has the biggest entourage of any superhero at least since Silver Age Superman, and maybe ever. At this point, I'm not sure I could catch up if I wanted to. Luckily, I don't.
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by Yellow Oval »

SprangFan,

Holy Automotive Dentistry! You're right. The grill and headlights do look like Speed Buggy. This makes Jones' take on Batman more of a joke.

As for 'Team Batman' in the comics it's team everything now. In comics, superhero TV shows (the absolutely horrid CW) and movies, even regular shows involving police, fire, whatever, we now see everything is always a 'team effort' concept. All dramas and comedies are multi-members (Whatever happened to smaller casts like The Odd Couple?). I mean, yeah, being ex-military I understand and appreciate teamwork is great and necessary in certain circumstances, but the concept of the individual is completely non-existent now. If you're not consistently part of a "team" you're nothing. I liked Batman and other heroes for their independence and self-reliance. I won't find that anymore.

By the way, Speed Buggy and Saturday morning rocked!! :D
"Hmmm... I don't like the twist this joke is taking. Let us away! Let us away!"
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SprangFan
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by SprangFan »

I enjoy team books and the Justice Society is near and dear to my heart, but Batman works better solo or at most teamed with one other character, as in the old Brave and the Bold books. And quite apart from matters of my opinion (which no one at DC cares about), the official take on Batman is that he's asocial, stand-offish and prefers solitude, which runs totally counter to what I'm actually seeing in those character-packed books. A dark figure swooping bat-like out of the shadows to mete out justice is a scary sight; the same figure accompanied by an entire Little League team? Not so much.

He needs to trade in "Speed Buggy" for a mini-van.
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SprangFan
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Re: The forgotten 1994 Batsuit from DC's "Troika"

Post by SprangFan »

BTW, whenever I'm tempted to go easy on Kelly Jones, I remember this image, which besides being possibly the worst image ever of Batman (and only "possibly" because Sam Keith has also drawn him), is also one of the worst images in comics history, period.

How does this one get a free pass when Rob Liefeld's horrible Captain America image has taken on mythic infamy? Both display the same utter lack of understanding of human anatomy. What is that sticking out of Batman? A leg larger than his chest? A trash bag with a giant face trying to burst out? You got me.

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