We live currently of awesome spiderman costume. The rise and rise of cosplay culture, the emergence of comic artists having a savvy understanding of fashion, along with the slow diversification that’s making heroes palatable to some broader audience, have contributed to a costuming culture with more to offer you than capes and pants.
Superhero costumes have been an asset to the industry, because iconography helps establish character and create a brand. But the value of costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters appears to be recognized now as never before, leading to the growth of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don’t even need to be over a particular book just to be called directly into make-on the characters. This can be a great leap forward in understanding just the thing an effective costume can perform – and also the special skills required to accomplish it.
Moon Knight was really 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 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 – plus a fresh look; a natty white suit. Both elements helped pull Moon Knight out of the mire of Marvel’s many failed faux-Batmen and make him his man initially.
Moon Knight’s new costume at once underlines his insanity – his old white suit has never been the sane strategy to fight crime, and today it’s an authentic white suit – and exerts his outer calm, his cool lunar placidity. It gives him authority. It can make him scary. Plus it makes him normally 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 – inside their six issues, the creative team also showed us a crazy bone outfit for fighting the occult along with a more traditional but nonetheless refreshed handle his old cape-and-cowl look. Both costumes look fantastic and make perfect sense towards the character – these aren’t Stealth Strike Scuba Assault Batman action figure costumes. But when there’s any sense on earth, it’s the white suit which will become Moon Knight’s new default. It redefines him. It gives him a fresh place that is uniquely their own within a city of heroes.
Great costumes will offer just this sort of redemption. Shatterstar, a joke of a character along with his mullet and opera cloak, was suddenly credible thanks to a redesign (and 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 phoenix costume – was about re-positioning Carol Danvers among Marvel’s premier heroes. The tailored military look drew a line between her present-day “top gun” persona and the old, victimized, drunken Carol, who appeared to prefer editing magazines to flying planes.
It’s tough to suppose that even Batman group editor Mark Doyle truly understood exactly what he was tapping into as he handed Batgirl to the newest creative team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, with Stewart and Tarr collaborating in the character’s new look. I’m sure Doyle expected great things, nevertheless the torrent of fan-art that emerged in 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 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 put in your life. This design looked less such as a Batman cast-off, and more like something a young woman will make for herself to craft her very own identity under the bat-cowl.
Sure, there was critics. Fans whose philosophy on everything from high-heeled shoes to strapless tops has long been, “it can’t be impractical if she’s wearing it” were suddenly in revolt at the concept 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 know how this fresh look will translate to actual sales – we might never know how well the book sells digitally, where a great deal of its market is probably going to reside – but the type of word-of-mouth and web-based interaction generated from this costume redesign is hugely valuable to some publisher.
A great costume gets an audience 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 for your new Ms. Marvel respected her youth and heritage instead of pandering to some traditional crowd.
And 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 since the one sent by Tarr and Stewart’s Batgirl.
Here’s a statement I never imagined I’d make: I want Marvel to bring 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 experienced before and a few brand new ones designed for the event. And this includes is really a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, developed by Robbi Rodriguez – and Spider-Gwen wears a few things i think could be my favorite superhero costume in years.
The Spider-Gwen costume does many 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 together with the hood and the neon Chucks – however with sufficient restraint which i don’t think it can look dated in years to come. It generates shapes and breaks up space in many ways that’s going to look powerful on 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 feeling of a difficult, haunted, edgy young woman. I’ll eat a set of neon Chucks if that’s not who she actually is.
Gwen Stacy is meant 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 be undone. Yet I really like this costume so much that, just before the Spider-Gwen issue of Fringe of Spider-Verse arrives, I know I want Gwen back and kicking ass with this costume.
(I am going to accept a regular occur Gwen’s alt universe. Heck, if the Ultimate Universe scales back to just Miles Morales, a Miles book and a Gwen book could be perfect complements to one another. But I don’t think that’s where Marvel is heading.)
A fantastic costume inspires stories – and tells viewers what type of stories to expect. Catwoman crafted a new kind 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 any time that costume appears in service to a tale that doesn’t respect the type. The form-shifting Loki as being a puckish young man in swashbuckling adventurer’s attire – one more Jamie McKelvie design – sparks totally different stories to the sinewy old guy using the giant horns. Stuart Immonen’s stylish All-New X-Men harley quinn costume set the time-tossed X-Men within the current day much better than any quantity of exposition.
Costumes have always been important to superheroes – but perhaps much more than many editors realize. Some artists are excellent at it, and some are… less great. Like lettering, coloring, inking, editing, or dexrpky99 art, it’s a specialized job that perhaps ought to be reserved for those with 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 task very seriously, and so they make superhero comics smarter and sharper for doing it.
And they’re one of many. A growing number of artists are showing their designer flare along with their grasp of contemporary style. Sites like Tumblr and DeviantArt provide fertile ground for artists to play around with costume concepts – and also 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 much more, to re-energize the genre for tomorrow.