Sans-a-Belt Batman

In 1959, the fashion world was assaulted by the revolutionary pants concept known simply as "Sansabelt", meaning slacks with elastic waistbands sewn in so fatties like me could wear pants without a belt. I can only think that Azrael, who took over when Batman's back was broken, is the heir to the vast Sansabelt fortune, because that's the only way I can make any sort of sense out of this outfit:

Clearly, he not only has a belt, he has a huge yellow pouchy belt full of pouchy pouchiness. How he ever gets anything out of the pouch in the small of his back, I don't know.

So this isn't your classic Sansabelt treatment, but one simple fact, I believe, puts it in that realm -- there's no buckle. Not only no buckle, but literally nothing but his rock-hard abs holding that sucker in place.

That raises the deep philosophical question of whether a belt is a belt if there's no buckle. How much of the requisite belt components can be missing before something stops being a belt? And how many divinely inspired Bat agents of death can dress up in ridiculous outfits without killing sales?

These are the kinds of issues that keep us deep thinking comics writers up at night, folks.

Now, I realize that the more literal of you will say something like "Duh, Jeff, the belt is bolted onto the armor." Which would cause me to reply, "Why would any sane person do that?" What's the point of a belt if not to hold your pants up? Were the thigh pouches not sufficient for holding the keys to the Batmobile?

Look, I get that this was a one-off kind of a thing, a temporary substitute Batman for a specific kind of character and time. But this whole thing is just silly looking. From the massive neck armor to the ridiculous wristless gloves to the hippy-dippy floppy-poppy leg streamers to the massive shoulder armor leading down to a completely unprotected crotch, this ensemble is nothing more than an ode to the excesses of the Nineties in super hero costume design. "Make it armored! And EXTREME! With pointy bits and pouches!!"

Ugh. I bet Bruce Wayne healed his back just so he could have the privilege of getting back into a decent costume and kicking this guy's ass for spoiling a hitherto uninterrupted string of sartorial success.

(Image and character ©DC Comics, Inc.)

15 Responses to Sans-a-Belt Batman

  1. Jeff, it goes even deeper than just the insane ammount of pounches. Look at his hands. This was the Batman that EXTREME that he hand claw gloves. How the hell did he get anything out of the pouches without tearing a hole thru them, or slicing his legs/waist to ribbions? Ah, the 90’s. Gotta love ’em.

  2. I’m completely willing to excuse this costume because I’ve been told the whole point of the Knightfall story was to show why this kind of XTREEEEEME! superhero is a flat-out stupid idea. Basically it was to shut up the people during the ’90s who were clammoring for “Batman as The Punisher”.

    Of course his costume looks ridiculous. They made it that way on purpose.

  3. Hammerknight

    I agree the costume became extreme Azrael filled in for Batman.But the most extreme thing about it was that Dick Grayson didn’t get the job in the first place. Someone somewhere in the design of the costume had to feel the same way that I did, why else would the costume become what it did. The first change or two were not that bad but it went down hill quick.

  4. Doornik1142(2): If you’re correct, I don’t know whether to be offended or impressed they used Batman’s iconic costume to prove their point, although prove that point they did. In spades.

    And if not, then the creators of this godawful mess need to have their pencils taken away.

  5. Wow, the guys in the DC board room must have gone something like this
    “OK, so, Batman is getting stale, so let’s give him spikey gloves and powered armour!”

  6. Doornik1142: That reminds me of the scene from “Say Anything”, where the guys sitting around a parking lot are ragging on him for not going for the girl:

    Lloyd Dobler: I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you’re here at like the Gas ‘n’ Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?
    Joe: By choice, man.

    It’s like, for every horrible costume choice, the defense years later is “Hey man, we did that by choice! It had artistic integrity, man!”

    Just man up, cop to giving in to whatever the horrible fashion trend was at the time, and move on.

  7. Jeff (6)

    Heh, true. But I’m inclined to believe the rumor this time.

    When I read Knightfall it really did seem like they were trying to point out what a bad idea the ’90s anti-hero was (or at least why it was a bad idea for Batman). I mean, for one thing they ended the fight between Azrael!Bats and Bane with AzBats choosing not to kill Bane because it wouldn’t be right. The exact opposite of what you’d expect the usual ’90s anti-hero to do.

    Then in the last third of the story it was all about Bruce Wayne retraining himself and not succumbing to the urge to kill, while AzBats becomes more and more unhinged and murderous. And then of course the final climax was Classic!Batman beating the crap out of AzBats and proving that AzBats just wasn’t good enough to be the real Batman.

    Maybe it’s just me, but this feels like an attempt at deconstructing the ’90s anti-hero concept and showing why the Classic!Batman is better.

  8. I agree with Doornik’s analysis as to the why of the costume. In my opinion though, Azrael never really had well-designed costumes to begin with. His “iconic” costume had a hood, which is impractical for a superhero; Huge, seemingly unwieldy gloves that forced his middle and ring fingers into the same glove space; and a cape with both a mantle with a couple of Fleur-de-Lis on it (to show he’s FRENCH!), and weird spine-y streamer-y things that, as far as I can tell, serve no purpose. And his other costumes after that didn’t really improve, either.

  9. Patriot_Missile

    Hi, my name is Patriot_Missile, and I’m a recovering XTREME90Saholic… I actually read those issues and was disappointed that Azrael didn’t pull Bat-Smoke Bombs out of those pockets (or anything, not even a Bat-PowerBar), and that he never attacked a baddie with those leg-blades like the Shredder does… I’ve been sober for over a decade, and I don’t like then new DC-52… Thank you.

  10. I would agree that since that costume was never intended to replace the old Batman costume, it was made unnecessarily elaborate. And while I never really thought about it before, it does seem likely that the story was a way of contrasting the classic heroes with the grim, gritty, anti-heroes of the time.

    But still, another reason this costume fails is it has too many colors. If this was mostly black, it may not be quite as bad, but in that image, it’s black, dark blue, lighter blue, yellow, white and red. Removing that leg-belt would help, too.

  11. Does Liefeld have something to do with this?

  12. Kaylin88100

    Shade2075 (11): I think you may have cracked the mystery ๐Ÿ˜›

  13. I think you guys are giving DC WAAAAAAY too much credit here. I’m more inclined to agree with Jeff here that it was what it was, and not some genius deconstruction of the 90’s era. I think it was the complete opposite, that it was the shark jump of 90’s stupidity, and afterwards DC was like, oh yeah, we MENT to do that. I worked at a comic store when this came out, and trust me, the people who were coming in were either complaining about the costume or raving about it. I don’t recall anyone talking about it the way you guys are.

  14. I have an action figure of this! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  15. Hey, me too, MajorBOB. Sucker won’t stand up on his own for love or money, so I have him strangling the Creeper in a tragic case of mistaken identity.