With the days of summer dwindling, it’s time for people to take those last trips to the beach.
In the DC Universe, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and their cohorts swap capes and costumes for bikinis and trunks in one of the most outlandish comedy stunts in recent history: G’Nort’s Swimsuit Edition, which hit shelves this week.
DC’s original title for this issue was G’nort’s Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, which naturally rhymes with its main inspiration: the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. And like the latter, it’s an excuse to tuck the pages of famous figures in barely-there beachwear. Only this time it’s not human models, but some of the world’s most famous superheroes and villains.
What is a G’nort?
While yet to appear in live-action DC movies, G’nort is a dog-like alien who has been a comic Green Lantern character since 1988. G’nort is also one of the characters in the centerfold, courtesy of artist Simon Bisley. The other two randomly inserted centerfolds are Nightwing and Batgirl together by artists Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sánchez, and Poison Ivy by Jen Bartel.
Why a swimsuit edition?
Yes, this may seem like a ridiculous idea for a comic book, and a far cry from the days when Adam West’s Caped Crusader wore his swimsuit over his Batman costume. G’Nort’s Swimsuit Edition, however, is the revival of a tradition that began decades ago and was popularized by DC’s biggest rival: Marvel Comics.
The wonder age of swimwear
The Amazing Heroes comics magazine was the first to come up with the idea of copying SI’s swimsuit issues in the 1980s. But since Amazing Heroes was published by Fantagraphics, it didn’t feature characters as recognizable as Marvel or DC. In 1991, Marvel released Marvel Illustrated: The Swimming Issue, which featured some of the company’s most popular heroines in bikinis, as drawn by many of the era’s top artists. It also openly parodied many of SI’s features and advertising.
For the second edition in 1992 it was given a new title: Marvel Swimsuit Special. That issue also featured the exotic locations for the various pin-ups, including Wakanda in ’92, Monster Island in ’93, the Moon in ’94 and Madripoor in ’95. Each annual release also increased the number of Marvel male heroes featured in increasingly revealing swimsuits. So both the men and women were more sexualized than usual.
After 1995, Marvel shied away from publishing additional swimsuit specials. An attempt to revive them was made in 2019 when Marvel Summer Special was requested in comic shops. But it was subsequently canceled before publication.
Dive in with DC
Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and cover artist Adam Hughes are the only veterans of Marvel’s swimsuit specials to lend their talents to G’Nort’s Swimsuit Edition. The rest of the artists are Nicola Scott, Mikel Janín, Jeff Dékal, Daniel Sampere, Gleb Melnikov, Derrick Chew, Stanley “Artgerm” Lau, Emanuela Lupacchino, Joëlle Jones, Megan Huang, Terry Dodson, Babs Tarr, Pete Woods, Joe Quinones and Otto Schmidt.
Most of the pin-ups in this special are previously published variant covers that have been re-used for this swimsuit stunt.
“All DC editors have wanted to find a way to show off our swimsuit covers for years,” DC Group editor Katie Kubert tells Yahoo Entertainment. “And when we managed to put them in a swimsuit special with a rather poignant presenter, alongside some fantastic centerfold images – that idea came from the great Clark Bull – we knew we had to get this to the public ASAP to announce! ”
Kubert adds that “at the time, the characters and concepts were chosen based on how much fun we could have with them. Playful images that were sunny and sexy – and sometimes silly – from artists who shared their love of the DC universe. When choosing the characters for this issue, we tried to represent as many characters as possible, and dug into our recent archives to find covers that, even if not part of the Swimsuit Variant program, feature a range of our best and brightest super villains. and superheroes.”
Writers Julie and Shawna Benson and artist Meghan Hetrick contribute an original story in which Batgirl, Huntress, Black Canary, Vixen and Poison Ivy don swimsuits as they take down Penguin, who has nefarious plans for a beach in Gotham City. And Penguin has the dubious honor of being the only character in this issue to appear naked when he briefly escapes by taking off his old-fashioned swimsuit.
But don’t worry, there’s nothing in this issue that wouldn’t be published by SI itself. Therein lies the problem, as this swimsuit special seems very tame compared to the Marvel specials from three decades ago. The most notable change seems to be DC’s willingness to cater to female and LGBTQ readers, with an even greater emphasis on the male characters. You may never see so many hairless chests again, and one of the pinups even features Bruce Wayne’s chest hair waxed in the shape of a bat symbol. The issue also reprints a short story by Steve Orlando and artist Paul Pelletier featuring one of DC’s most prominent gay couples: Apollo and Midnighter.
What are the fans saying?
So far, initial reactions to G’Nort’s Swimsuit Edition have been mixed. Some appreciated the playful tone, while others compared it negatively to Marvel’s swimsuit specials.
Either way, some fans have embraced the special for what it is.
Back to the beach?
It’s worth noting that the pinups in G’Nort’s Swimsuit Edition aren’t in continuity, so DC doesn’t have to explain how they fit into ongoing storylines. Even the original story of the Bensons and Hetrick seems to be a unique story completely detached from the current status quo of the comic. It’s just meant to be fun.
The only question now is whether DC will revisit the idea next summer. And that will ultimately come down to how well it sells. Who knows are fans of the Snyderverse ready to embrace the DC Swimverse?