We live in a time of awesome superhero costumes. The increase and rise of cosplay culture, the emergence of comic artists having a savvy knowledge of fashion, and the slow diversification that’s making heroes palatable to your broader audience, have got all led to a costuming culture with additional to supply than capes and pants.
Superhero costumes have been an focal point in the market, because iconography helps establish character and make up a brand. But the need for costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters is apparently recognized now as never before, creating an upswing of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don’t even have to be with a particular book to become called directly into make-on the characters. This is a great leap forward in understanding exactly what an excellent costume can perform – as well as the special skills required to get it done.
Moon Knight had been 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 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 at night – plus a fresh look; a natty white suit. Both elements helped pull Moon Knight out from the mire of Marvel’s many failed faux-Batmen to make him his own man the very first time.
Moon Knight’s new costume at the same time underlines his insanity – his old white suit was never the sane strategy to fight crime, and now it’s a real white suit – and exerts his outer calm, his cool lunar placidity. It gives him authority. It can make him scary. And yes it makes him normally the one superhero detective who dresses such as a detective, which feels as though a statement of purpose.
The suit will not be Moon Knight’s only costume – in their six issues, the creative team also showed us a crazy bone outfit for fighting the occult as well as a classical yet still refreshed take on his old cape-and-cowl look. Both costumes look wonderful and make perfect sense towards the character – these aren’t Stealth Strike Scuba Assault Batman action figure costumes. However if there’s any sense on earth, it’s the white suit that may become Moon Knight’s new default. It redefines him. It gives him a fresh place that is certainly uniquely his very own within a city of heroes.
Great costumes can offer just this type of redemption. Shatterstar, a joke of any character along with his mullet and opera cloak, was suddenly credible due to 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 spiderman costumes – 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 as well as the old, victimized, drunken Carol, who appeared to prefer editing magazines to flying planes.
It’s difficult to believe that even Batman group editor Mark Doyle truly understood what exactly he was tapping into when he handed Batgirl up to the brand new creative team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, with Stewart and Tarr collaborating on the character’s change. I’m sure Doyle expected great things, nevertheless the torrent of fan-art that emerged within the 24-hours using the reveal of Batgirl’s new costume was unprecedented. Such was the mania that cosplayers almost immediately bought the world’s flow of Drench Wellington yellow rubber Doc Marten boots.
What actually transpired with Batgirl was the spark of your movement based in large part on a smart new costume that spoke to Barbara Gordon’s character, intelligence, style, and place in daily life. This design looked less such as a Batman cast-off, plus more like something a young woman will make for herself to craft her own identity beneath the bat-cowl.
Sure, there was critics. Fans whose philosophy on from high-heeled shoes to strapless tops has always been, “it can’t be impractical if she’s wearing it” were suddenly in revolt at the thought of a leather jacket that hid the character’s boobs. But 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 learn how this change will translate to actual sales – we may never learn how well the publication sells digitally, where much of its market is likely to reside – but the type of word-of-mouth and internet based interaction generated with this costume redesign is hugely valuable to some publisher.
An effective costume gets a crowd excited by telling them what you should expect. Cliff Chiang’s handle 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 an alternative to pandering into a traditional crowd.
And yes it works in reverse. Harley Quinn’s New 52 design clearly steered the character within a different direction from your 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 thought I’d make: I want Marvel to bring Gwen Stacy back from your 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 seen before and some new ones designed for the big event. Among them is actually a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, created by Robbi Rodriguez – and Spider-Gwen wears the things i think may be the best superhero costume in years.
The Spider-Gwen costume does lots of things with remarkable economy. It plays beautifully of your iconic style of the very best superhero costume ever conceived, Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man costume. It strikes a contemporary tone with all the hood along with the neon Chucks – but with sufficient restraint which i don’t think it is going to look dated in years to come. It makes shapes and breaks up space in ways that’s planning to look powerful around the page. Plus it immediately evokes character. I haven’t even read Spider-Gwen’s first Spider-Verse appearance, and i also currently have a feeling of a tricky, haunted, edgy young woman. I’ll eat a pair 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 to further the stories of male heroes, the death of Gwen Stacy feels too vital that you Spider-Man’s development to get undone. Yet I love this costume a whole lot that, before the Spider-Gwen issue of Fringe of Spider-Verse is released, I understand I want Gwen back and kicking ass in this particular costume.
(I am going to be satisfied with a continuing that is set in Gwen’s alt universe. Heck, when 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 great costume inspires stories – and tells an audience what sort of stories can be expected. Catwoman made a new form of sense when redesigned by Darwyn Cooke in 2004 – finally she wore the costume of any master thief, not an Olympic luge rider. It causes whiplash at any time that costume appears in company to a narrative that doesn’t respect the type. The design-shifting Loki being a puckish young man in swashbuckling adventurer’s attire – another Jamie McKelvie design – sparks completely different stories on the sinewy old guy with the giant horns. Stuart Immonen’s stylish All-New X-Men superman costumes place the time-tossed X-Men in the present-day better than any quantity of exposition.
Costumes have always been crucial that you superheroes – but perhaps much more than many editors realize. Some artists are fantastic at it, and a few are… less great. Like lettering, coloring, inking, editing, or dexrpky99 art, it’s a specialized job that perhaps should be restricted to those that have the skill set to excel 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 component of a generation of artists having this career very seriously, and so they make superhero comics smarter and sharper for doing this.
And they’re not alone. Increasingly more artists are showing their designer flare and their grasp of contemporary style. Sites like Tumblr and DeviantArt provide fertile ground for artists to play around with costume concepts – along with the excellent Project: Rooftop curates 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 many more, to re-energize the genre for tomorrow.