We live currently of awesome superhero costumes. The rise and rise of cosplay culture, the emergence of comic artists having a savvy knowledge of fashion, as well as the slow diversification that’s making heroes palatable to your broader audience, supply contributed to a costuming culture with increased to offer you than capes and pants.
Superhero costumes have invariably been an focal point in the business, because iconography helps establish character and create a brand. But the price of costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters appears to be recognized now as never before, ultimately causing the rise of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don’t even must be on the particular book to become called into make-across the characters. This really is a great leap forward in understanding just what an effective costume is capable of doing – along with the special skills required to make it happen.
Moon Knight was actually a mess of your character before his 2014 revival at the disposal of Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire. Contradictory efforts by multiple creative teams to obtain the character’s core only served to layer junk upon junk. Moon Knight was meant 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 during the night – plus a change; a natty white suit. Both elements helped pull Moon Knight out of the mire of Marvel’s many failed faux-Batmen and make him their own man the first time.
Moon Knight’s new costume simultaneously underlines his insanity – his old white suit was never the sane method to fight crime, now it’s a genuine white suit – and exerts his outer calm, his cool lunar placidity. It gives him authority. It will make him scary. Plus it makes him normally the one superhero detective who dresses something similar to a detective, which is like a statement of purpose.
The suit is not really 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 classical but still refreshed carry out his old cape-and-cowl look. Both costumes look good and make perfect sense towards the character – these aren’t Stealth Strike Scuba Assault Batman action figure costumes. However, if there’s any sense in the world, it’s the white suit that may become Moon Knight’s new default. It redefines him. It gives him a whole new place which is uniquely his inside a city of heroes.
Great costumes may offer just this kind of redemption. Shatterstar, a joke of a character along with his mullet and opera cloak, was suddenly credible thanks to a redesign (as well as a fresh haircut) courtesy of Valentine De Landro and David Yardin. Jamie McKelvie’s Captain Marvel design – arguably the obvious trigger for your current “golden age” of phoenix costume – was information on re-positioning Carol Danvers among Marvel’s premier heroes. The tailored military look drew a line between her present-day “top gun” persona and also the old, victimized, drunken Carol, who seemed to prefer editing magazines to flying planes.
It’s challenging to suppose that even Batman group editor Mark Doyle truly understood just what he was tapping into as he handed Batgirl over to the latest 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, although the torrent of fan-art that emerged in the 24-hours following the reveal of Batgirl’s new costume was unprecedented. Such was the mania that cosplayers very quickly bought out the world’s source of Drench Wellington yellow rubber Doc Marten boots.
What happened with Batgirl was the spark of your movement located in large part over a smart new costume that spoke to Barbara Gordon’s character, intelligence, style, and set in everyday life. This design looked less similar to a Batman cast-off, and a lot more like something a young woman will make for herself to craft her identity within the bat-cowl.
Sure, there have been critics. Fans whose philosophy on anything 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 notion 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 design elements, and that’s how good costume design should work.
We don’t yet learn how this change will translate to actual sales – we might never recognize how well it sells digitally, where a great deal of its market will probably reside – but the type of word-of-mouth and internet based interaction generated from this costume redesign is hugely valuable into a publisher.
An excellent costume gets viewers excited by letting them know 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 for the new Ms. Marvel respected her youth and heritage as opposed to pandering to your traditional crowd.
Plus it works in reverse. Harley Quinn’s New 52 design clearly steered the character inside a different direction in the ones fans expected, and sent a transmission to readers as unambiguous as the one sent by Tarr and Stewart’s Batgirl.
Here’s a statement I never imagined I’d make: I want Marvel to take Gwen Stacy back from the dead. And it’s all as a result of costume.
Marvel’s upcoming Spider-Verse event brings together Spider-Men and Spider-Women from multiple alternative realities, including many that readers have observed before as well as some brand new ones developed for the big event. One of them can be a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, produced by Robbi Rodriguez – and Spider-Gwen wears what I think might be my personal favorite superhero costume in years.
The Spider-Gwen costume does a lot of things with remarkable economy. It plays beautifully of the iconic style of the very best superhero costume ever conceived, Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man costume. It strikes a contemporary tone with the hood and the neon Chucks – although with sufficient restraint i don’t think it would look dated in years to come. It creates shapes and breaks up space in a way that’s going to look powerful on the page. And it immediately evokes character. I haven’t even read Spider-Gwen’s first Spider-Verse appearance, and I have a feeling of a tough, haunted, edgy young woman. I’ll eat a couple of neon Chucks if that’s not who she actually is.
Gwen Stacy is supposed to stay dead. As grotesque as it is when women are killed off and away to further the stories of male heroes, the death of Gwen Stacy feels too essential to Spider-Man’s development to get undone. Yet I enjoy this costume so much that, prior to the Spider-Gwen issue of Fringe of Spider-Verse is released, I realize I want Gwen back and kicking ass with this costume.
(I am going to be happy with an ongoing that is set in Gwen’s alt universe. Heck, in the event the Ultimate Universe scales straight back to just Miles Morales, a Miles book as well as a Gwen book could be perfect complements to one another. Nevertheless I don’t think that’s where Marvel is heading.)
A fantastic costume inspires stories – and tells an audience what kind of stories should be expected. Catwoman created a new sort of sense when redesigned by Darwyn Cooke in 2004 – finally she wore the costume of a master thief, not an Olympic luge rider. It causes whiplash any time that costume appears in company to a tale that doesn’t respect the type. The shape-shifting Loki as a puckish young man in swashbuckling adventurer’s attire – an additional Jamie McKelvie design – sparks completely different stories on the sinewy old guy with all the giant horns. Stuart Immonen’s stylish All-New X-Men deadpool costume set the time-tossed X-Men from the modern superior to any level of exposition.
Costumes have invariably been vital that you superheroes – but perhaps more so than many editors realize. Some artists are excellent at it, plus some are… less great. Like lettering, coloring, inking, editing, or dexrpky99 art, it’s a specialized job that perhaps must be reserved for those 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 part of a generation of artists taking this job very seriously, and they also make superhero comics smarter and sharper for doing this.
And they’re not the only one. A lot more artists are showing their designer flare as well as their grasp of contemporary style. Sites like Tumblr and DeviantArt provide fertile ground for artists to perform around with costume concepts – as well as the excellent Project: Rooftop curates the best examples. The musty superhero industry would benefit hugely from looking at the likes of Cory Walker, Mingjue Helen Chen, Dean Trippe, Corey Lewis, Becky Cloonan, Ming Doyle, Jemma Salume, Sean Murphy, Ron Wimberly, and many more, to re-energize the genre for tomorrow.