We live currently of awesome superhero costumes. The rise and rise of cosplay culture, the emergence of comic artists having a savvy comprehension of fashion, as well as the slow diversification that’s making heroes palatable to some broader audience, supply contributed to a costuming culture with additional to supply than capes and pants.
Superhero costumes have been an asset to the industry, because iconography helps establish character and make up a brand. But the value of costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters appears to be recognized now as never before, ultimately causing the growth of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don’t even have to be over a particular book to be called straight into make-across the characters. This really is a great leap forward in understanding exactly what an excellent costume can perform – and also the special skills required to do it.
Moon Knight was really a mess of any character before his 2014 revival at the disposal 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 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 at nighttime – along with a fresh look; a natty white suit. Both elements helped pull Moon Knight from the mire of Marvel’s many failed faux-Batmen making him his very own man the very first time.
Moon Knight’s new costume at once underlines his insanity – his old white suit has never been the sane method to fight crime, and from now on it’s an authentic white suit – and exerts his outer calm, his cool lunar placidity. It gives him authority. This makes him scary. And it also makes him normally the one superhero detective who dresses something like a detective, which feels like a statement of purpose.
The suit is not Moon Knight’s only costume – in their six issues, the creative team also showed us a crazy bone outfit for fighting the occult and a more conventional yet still refreshed undertake his old cape-and-cowl look. Both costumes look fantastic and then make perfect sense towards the character – these aren’t Stealth Strike Scuba Assault Batman action figure costumes. However, if there’s any sense worldwide, it’s the white suit which will become Moon Knight’s new default. It redefines him. It gives him a brand new place that is certainly uniquely his very own in the town of heroes.
Great costumes can offer just this type of redemption. Shatterstar, a joke of a character with his mullet and opera cloak, was suddenly credible because of a redesign (as well as a fresh haircut) courtesy of Valentine De Landro and David Yardin. Jamie McKelvie’s Captain Marvel design – arguably the most obvious trigger for your current “golden age” of spiderman 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 and also the old, victimized, drunken Carol, who did actually prefer editing magazines to flying planes.
It’s difficult to suppose that even Batman group editor Mark Doyle truly understood just what he was tapping into as he handed Batgirl over to the brand new creative team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, with Stewart and Tarr collaborating on the character’s new look. I’m sure Doyle expected great things, however the torrent of fan-art that emerged inside the 24-hours pursuing the reveal of Batgirl’s new costume was unprecedented. Such was the mania that cosplayers almost immediately bought out of the world’s source of Drench Wellington yellow rubber Doc Marten boots.
What actually transpired with Batgirl was the spark of any movement operating out of large part with a smart new costume that spoke to Barbara Gordon’s character, intelligence, style, and put in everyday life. This design looked less similar to a Batman cast-off, and a lot more like something a young woman makes for herself to craft her identity beneath the bat-cowl.
Sure, there were critics. Fans whose philosophy on 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 recognize how this change will translate to actual sales – we may never know how well the book sells digitally, where much of its market is likely to reside – but the sort of word-of-mouth and internet based interaction generated from this costume redesign is hugely valuable to your publisher.
An effective costume gets a crowd excited by telling them what you should expect. Cliff Chiang’s take on Wonder Woman played up her warrior strength and her status as both mythic figure and iconic hero. Jamie McKelvie’s costume for your new Ms. Marvel respected her youth and heritage instead of pandering to your traditional crowd.
And yes it works in reverse. Harley Quinn’s New 52 design clearly steered the character inside a different direction through the ones fans expected, and sent a transmission to readers as unambiguous as the one sent by Tarr and Stewart’s Batgirl.
Here’s an announcement I never imagined I’d make: I want Marvel to take Gwen Stacy back in the dead. And it’s all because of a costume.
Marvel’s upcoming Spider-Verse event brings together Spider-Men and Spider-Women from multiple alternative realities, including many that readers have experienced before and some new ones developed for the big event. Among them is a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, developed by Robbi Rodriguez – and Spider-Gwen wears a few things i think could be my personal favorite superhero costume in years.
The Spider-Gwen costume does lots of things with remarkable economy. It plays beautifully from the iconic model of the best superhero costume ever conceived, Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man costume. It strikes a contemporary tone with the hood and the neon Chucks – though with sufficient restraint which i don’t think it would look dated in years to come. It makes shapes and breaks up space in ways that’s going to look powerful in the page. Plus it immediately evokes character. I haven’t even read Spider-Gwen’s first Spider-Verse appearance, and that i have feelings of a difficult, haunted, edgy young woman. I’ll eat some neon Chucks if that’s not who she is.
Gwen Stacy is supposed to stay dead. As grotesque since it is when women are killed off to further the stories of male heroes, the death of Gwen Stacy feels too important to Spider-Man’s development to be undone. Yet I like this costume a whole lot that, before the Spider-Gwen issue of Fringe of Spider-Verse comes out, I understand I want Gwen back and kicking ass within this costume.
(I will be happy with a continuing placed in Gwen’s alt universe. Heck, if the Ultimate Universe scales to just Miles Morales, a Miles book and a Gwen book could be perfect complements to one another. However I don’t think that’s where Marvel is heading.)
A fantastic costume inspires stories – and tells an audience what kind of stories to anticipate. Catwoman crafted a new sort of sense when redesigned by Darwyn Cooke in 2004 – finally she wore the costume of your master thief, no Olympic luge rider. It causes whiplash whenever that costume appears in company to a tale that doesn’t respect the type. The contour-shifting Loki like a puckish young man in swashbuckling adventurer’s attire – yet another Jamie McKelvie design – sparks totally different stories towards the sinewy old guy together with the giant horns. Stuart Immonen’s stylish All-New X-Men deadpool costume set the time-tossed X-Men inside the present day superior to any amount of exposition.
Costumes have invariably been important to superheroes – but perhaps more so than many editors realize. Some artists are great at it, plus some are… less great. Like lettering, coloring, inking, editing, or dexrpky99 art, it’s a specialized job that perhaps must be restricted to people that have the skill set to do well at it.
Thankfully the comic industry has never had such a great deal of designing talent. Jamie McKelvie, Kris Anka, Cameron Stewart, Robbi Rodriguez, Cliff Chiang, etc., are element of a generation of artists who take this career very seriously, plus they make superhero comics smarter and sharper for doing it.
And they’re not the only one. More and more artists are showing their designer flare along with their grasp of contemporary style. Sites like Tumblr and DeviantArt provide fertile ground for artists to perform around with costume concepts – and 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.