We live currently of awesome superhero costumes. The increase and rise of cosplay culture, the emergence of comic artists by using a savvy comprehension of fashion, and also the slow diversification that’s making heroes palatable to your broader audience, have contributed to a costuming culture with more to supply than capes and pants.
Superhero costumes have invariably been an focal point in the marketplace, because iconography helps establish character and make up a brand. But the need for costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters seems to be recognized now as never before, leading to the growth of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don’t even must be with a particular book to become called in to make-within the characters. This can be a great leap forward in understanding precisely what an excellent costume are capable of doing – along with the special skills required to do it.
Moon Knight had been a mess of your character before his 2014 revival in the hands of Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire. Contradictory efforts by multiple creative teams to discover the character’s core only served to layer junk upon junk. Moon Knight was intended to be complex; he became cluttered.
Ellis, Shalvey and Bellaire streamlined him down and gave him a clearly defined new role – the hero who protects travellers through the night – along with a fresh look; a natty white suit. Both elements helped pull Moon Knight out of the mire of Marvel’s many failed faux-Batmen making him their own man for the first time.
Moon Knight’s new costume right away underlines his insanity – his old white suit has never been the sane strategy to fight crime, and from now on it’s a real white suit – and exerts his outer calm, his cool lunar placidity. It gives him authority. It makes him scary. And yes it makes him the one superhero detective who dresses something such as a detective, which feels as though an announcement of purpose.
The suit is just not Moon Knight’s only costume – within their six issues, the creative team also showed us a crazy bone outfit for fighting the occult and a more conventional but nevertheless refreshed handle his old cape-and-cowl look. Both costumes look wonderful and make perfect sense on the character – these aren’t Stealth Strike Scuba Assault Batman action figure costumes. However, if there’s any sense on the planet, it’s the white suit that may become Moon Knight’s new default. It redefines him. It gives him a new place that is uniquely their own inside a city of heroes.
Great costumes will offer just this kind of redemption. Shatterstar, a joke of the character along with his mullet and opera cloak, was suddenly credible as a result of a redesign (along with a fresh haircut) thanks to Valentine De Landro and David Yardin. Jamie McKelvie’s Captain Marvel design – arguably the most obvious trigger for that current “golden age” of d.va costumes – was information on re-positioning Carol Danvers as one of Marvel’s premier heroes. The tailored military look drew a line between her present-day “top gun” persona as well as the old, victimized, drunken Carol, who seemed to prefer editing magazines to flying planes.
It’s hard to imagine that even Batman group editor Mark Doyle truly understood just what he was tapping into when he handed Batgirl up to the newest creative team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, with Stewart and Tarr collaborating about the character’s change. I’m sure Doyle expected great things, nevertheless the torrent of fan-art that emerged from the 24-hours following the reveal of Batgirl’s new costume was unprecedented. Such was the mania that cosplayers almost immediately bought out your world’s supply of Drench Wellington yellow rubber Doc Marten boots.
What happened with Batgirl was the spark of your movement situated in large part over a smart new costume that spoke to Barbara Gordon’s character, intelligence, style, and put in your life. This design looked less like a Batman cast-off, and much more like something a young woman will make for herself to craft her identity within the bat-cowl.
Sure, there was critics. Fans whose philosophy on everything from high-heeled shoes to strapless tops is definitely, “it can’t be impractical if she’s wearing it” were suddenly in revolt at the idea of a leather jacket that hid the character’s boobs. However the thrift-store style, the snap-on cape, the zips and buckles, were all character-first elements of design, and that’s how good costume design should work.
We don’t yet understand how this fresh look will translate to actual sales – we might never recognize how well the book sells digitally, where a great deal of its market will probably reside – but the kind of word-of-mouth and internet based interaction generated by this costume redesign is hugely valuable to a publisher.
An excellent costume gets viewers excited by telling them what to prepare for. Cliff Chiang’s carry out Wonder Woman played up her warrior strength and her status as both mythic figure and iconic hero. Jamie McKelvie’s costume to the new Ms. Marvel respected her youth and heritage instead of pandering to some traditional crowd.
And it also works in reverse. Harley Quinn’s New 52 design clearly steered the character within a different direction in the ones fans expected, and sent a transmission to readers as unambiguous since the one sent by Tarr and Stewart’s Batgirl.
Here’s an announcement I never imagined I’d make: I want Marvel to give Gwen Stacy back in the dead. And it’s all due to a costume.
Marvel’s upcoming Spider-Verse event brings together Spider-Men and Spider-Women from multiple alternative realities, including many that readers have witnessed before and a few brand new ones developed for the celebration. Among them is actually a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, produced by Robbi Rodriguez – and Spider-Gwen wears what I think might be my favorite superhero costume in years.
The Spider-Gwen costume does a lot of things with remarkable economy. It plays beautifully of the iconic design of the best superhero costume ever conceived, Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man costume. It strikes a contemporary tone together with the hood along with the neon Chucks – however with sufficient restraint that I don’t think it will look dated in many years to come. It produces shapes and breaks up space in many ways that’s gonna look powerful around the page. Plus it immediately evokes character. I haven’t even read Spider-Gwen’s first Spider-Verse appearance, and that i already have a sense of a difficult, haunted, edgy young woman. I’ll eat a couple of neon Chucks if that’s not who she actually is.
Gwen Stacy is meant to stay dead. As grotesque because it is when women are killed off and away to further the stories of male heroes, the death of Gwen Stacy feels too important to Spider-Man’s development to get undone. Yet I enjoy this costume so much that, just before the Spider-Gwen issue of Fringe of Spider-Verse arrives, I realize I want Gwen back and kicking ass with this costume.
(I will be satisfied with a continuous set in Gwen’s alt universe. Heck, in case the Ultimate Universe scales straight back to just Miles Morales, a Miles book along with a Gwen book could be perfect complements to each other. But I don’t think that’s where Marvel is heading.)
A fantastic costume inspires stories – and tells a crowd what type of stories to expect. Catwoman crafted a new form of sense when redesigned by Darwyn Cooke in 2004 – finally she wore the costume of the master thief, not an Olympic luge rider. It causes whiplash any moment that costume appears in company to a story that doesn’t respect the character. The shape-shifting Loki as being a puckish young man in swashbuckling adventurer’s attire – one more Jamie McKelvie design – sparks very different stories towards the sinewy old guy using the giant horns. Stuart Immonen’s stylish All-New X-Men harley quinn costume position the time-tossed X-Men within the present day superior to any level of exposition.
Costumes have been crucial that you superheroes – but perhaps more so than many editors realize. Some artists are wonderful at it, plus some are… less great. Like lettering, coloring, inking, editing, or dexrpky99 art, it’s a specialized job that perhaps ought to be restricted to individuals with the skill set to do well at it.
Thankfully the comic industry has never had such an abundance of designing talent. Jamie McKelvie, Kris Anka, Cameron Stewart, Robbi Rodriguez, Cliff Chiang, etc., are component of a generation of artists taking this task very seriously, and so they make superhero comics smarter and sharper because of it.
And they’re one of many. A lot more artists are showing their designer flare and their grasp of contemporary style. Sites like Tumblr and DeviantArt provide fertile ground for artists to perform around with costume concepts – along with the excellent Project: Rooftop curates some of the best examples. The musty superhero industry would benefit hugely from embracing the likes of Cory Walker, Mingjue Helen Chen, Dean Trippe, Corey Lewis, Becky Cloonan, Ming Doyle, Jemma Salume, Sean Murphy, Ron Wimberly, and much more, to re-energize the genre for tomorrow.