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, and the slow diversification that’s making heroes palatable to some broader audience, supply led to a costuming culture with increased to provide 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 value of costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters seems to be recognized now as never before, ultimately causing an upswing of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don’t even need to be on the particular book to be called straight into make-across the characters. This really is a great leap forward in understanding just what an excellent costume is capable of doing – and the special skills required to make it happen.
Moon Knight was actually a mess of the 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 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 – plus a new look; a natty white suit. Both elements helped pull Moon Knight out from the mire of Marvel’s many failed faux-Batmen and then make him his very own man for the first time.
Moon Knight’s new costume at the same time underlines his insanity – his old white suit was never the sane method 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 it also makes him the one superhero detective who dresses something such as a detective, which feels like an announcement of purpose.
The suit will not be Moon Knight’s only costume – with their six issues, the creative team also showed us a crazy bone outfit for fighting the occult as well as a more conventional yet still refreshed undertake his old cape-and-cowl look. Both costumes look good making perfect sense to 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 that may become Moon Knight’s new default. It redefines him. It gives him a whole new place that is certainly uniquely his very own in the city of heroes.
Great costumes can provide just this type of redemption. Shatterstar, a joke of the character regarding his mullet and opera cloak, was suddenly credible due 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 most obvious trigger for the 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 and also the old, victimized, drunken Carol, who did actually 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 as he handed Batgirl to the new creative team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, with Stewart and Tarr collaborating around the character’s new look. I’m sure Doyle expected great things, nevertheless the torrent of fan-art that emerged within the 24-hours following the reveal of Batgirl’s new costume was unprecedented. Such was the mania that cosplayers quickly bought the world’s flow of Drench Wellington yellow rubber Doc Marten boots.
What actually transpired with Batgirl was the spark of your movement located 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 just like a Batman cast-off, and more like something a young woman makes for herself to craft her own identity under the bat-cowl.
Sure, there are critics. Fans whose philosophy on anything from high-heeled shoes to strapless tops happens to be, “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. 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 understand how this new look will translate to actual sales – we might never know how well the publication sells digitally, where most of its market is probably going to reside – but the kind of word-of-mouth and online interaction generated through this costume redesign is hugely valuable to your publisher.
A great costume gets an audience excited by telling them what to anticipate. 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 to the new Ms. Marvel respected her youth and heritage instead of pandering to some traditional crowd.
And yes it works in reverse. Harley Quinn’s New 52 design clearly steered the type within a different direction through the ones fans expected, and sent a signal to readers as unambiguous since the one sent by Tarr and Stewart’s Batgirl.
Here’s a statement I never imagined I’d make: I want Marvel to create Gwen Stacy back through the dead. And it’s all because of 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 as well as some brand new ones developed for the event. Among them is really a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, developed by Robbi Rodriguez – and Spider-Gwen wears things i think might be the best superhero costume in years.
The Spider-Gwen costume does many things with remarkable economy. It plays beautifully in the iconic model of the greatest superhero costume ever conceived, Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man costume. It strikes a contemporary tone with the hood along with the neon Chucks – but with sufficient restraint 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 likely to look powerful in the page. Plus it immediately evokes character. I haven’t even read Spider-Gwen’s first Spider-Verse appearance, and so i curently have a sense of a difficult, haunted, edgy young woman. I’ll eat some 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 being undone. Yet I love this costume so much that, prior to the Spider-Gwen issue of Fringe of Spider-Verse originates out, I am aware I want Gwen back and kicking ass in this particular costume.
(I am going to be happy with a regular occur Gwen’s alt universe. Heck, in the event the Ultimate Universe scales returning to just Miles Morales, a Miles book plus a Gwen book will be perfect complements to one another. Having Said That I don’t think that’s where Marvel is heading.)
An incredible costume inspires stories – and tells a crowd what sort of stories can be expected. Catwoman crafted a new type of sense when redesigned by Darwyn Cooke in 2004 – finally she wore the costume of a master thief, no Olympic luge rider. It causes whiplash whenever that costume appears in service to a story that doesn’t respect the character. The contour-shifting Loki as a puckish young man in swashbuckling adventurer’s attire – an additional Jamie McKelvie design – sparks very different stories on the sinewy old guy together with the giant horns. Stuart Immonen’s stylish All-New X-Men deadpool costume place the time-tossed X-Men within the current day superior to any amount of exposition.
Costumes have always been essential to superheroes – but perhaps much more than many editors realize. Some artists are wonderful at it, and some are… less great. Like lettering, coloring, inking, editing, or dexrpky99 art, it’s a specialized job that perhaps should be reserved for people 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 they make superhero comics smarter and sharper for doing it.
And they’re not the only one. A growing number of 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 try out around with costume concepts – and the excellent Project: Rooftop curates among 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 more, to re-energize the genre for tomorrow.