We live currently of awesome spiderman costume. The rise and rise of cosplay culture, the emergence of comic artists using a savvy idea of fashion, and also the slow diversification that’s making heroes palatable to your broader audience, have got all led to a costuming culture with more to offer you than capes and pants.
Superhero costumes have invariably been an focal point in the industry, because iconography helps establish character and create a brand. But the value of costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters is apparently recognized now as never before, leading to the rise of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don’t even have to be on a particular book in order to be called into make-across the characters. This really is a great leap forward in understanding precisely what a great costume are capable of doing – as well as the special skills required to get it done.
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 find 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 through the night – as well as a new 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 for the 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 now it’s an authentic white suit – and exerts his outer calm, his cool lunar placidity. It gives him authority. It makes him scary. And it makes him normally the one superhero detective who dresses something similar to a detective, which seems like a statement of purpose.
The suit is just not 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 more conventional yet still refreshed handle his old cape-and-cowl look. Both costumes look fantastic and then make perfect sense for the character – these aren’t Stealth Strike Scuba Assault Batman action figure costumes. But when there’s any sense worldwide, it’s the white suit that can become Moon Knight’s new default. It redefines him. It gives him a new place that may be uniquely their own in a city of heroes.
Great costumes may offer just this type of redemption. Shatterstar, a joke of any character regarding his mullet and opera cloak, was suddenly credible thanks to a redesign (plus 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 about 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 suppose that even Batman group editor Mark Doyle truly understood exactly what he was tapping into when he handed Batgirl onto the latest creative team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, with Stewart and Tarr collaborating about the character’s fresh look. I’m sure Doyle expected great things, nevertheless the torrent of fan-art that emerged within the 24-hours pursuing the reveal of Batgirl’s new costume was unprecedented. Such was the mania that cosplayers very quickly bought out the world’s availability of Drench Wellington yellow rubber Doc Marten boots.
What went down with Batgirl was the spark of any movement situated in large part on a smart new costume that spoke to Barbara Gordon’s character, intelligence, style, and put in daily life. This design looked less similar to a Batman cast-off, and much more like something a young woman would make for herself to craft her very own identity beneath the bat-cowl.
Sure, there were critics. Fans whose philosophy on 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. 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 understand how this change will translate to actual sales – we may never understand how well the publication sells digitally, where most of its market will probably reside – but the sort of word-of-mouth and web-based interaction generated from this costume redesign is hugely valuable to your publisher.
A good costume gets viewers excited by letting them know what to prepare for. Cliff Chiang’s undertake 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 as an alternative to pandering into a traditional crowd.
Plus it works in reverse. Harley Quinn’s New 52 design clearly steered the type inside a different direction through the ones fans expected, and sent a signal 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 in 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 observed before and a few new ones designed for the celebration. And this includes is really a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, produced by Robbi Rodriguez – and Spider-Gwen wears what I think could be the best superhero costume in years.
The Spider-Gwen costume does many things with remarkable economy. It plays beautifully in the iconic form of the highest superhero costume ever conceived, Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man costume. It strikes a contemporary tone using the hood and the neon Chucks – although with sufficient restraint which i don’t think it will look dated in years to come. It creates shapes and breaks up space in such a way that’s gonna look powerful around the page. And it also immediately evokes character. I haven’t even read Spider-Gwen’s first Spider-Verse appearance, and that i currently have feelings 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 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 essential to Spider-Man’s development to get undone. Yet I enjoy this costume a great deal that, prior to the Spider-Gwen issue of Edge of Spider-Verse comes out, I am aware I want Gwen back and kicking ass with this costume.
(I am going to settle for an ongoing occur Gwen’s alt universe. Heck, if the Ultimate Universe scales to just Miles Morales, a Miles book plus a Gwen book will be perfect complements to one another. However I don’t think that’s where Marvel is heading.)
An excellent costume inspires stories – and tells an audience what kind of stories should be expected. Catwoman crafted 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 story that doesn’t respect the character. The design-shifting Loki like a puckish young man in swashbuckling adventurer’s attire – an additional Jamie McKelvie design – sparks totally different stories for the sinewy old guy together with the giant horns. Stuart Immonen’s stylish All-New X-Men deadpool costume position the time-tossed X-Men within the modern much better than any quantity of exposition.
Costumes have been important to superheroes – but perhaps much more than many editors realize. Some artists are excellent at it, and several 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 excel at it.
Thankfully the comic industry has never had such a wealth of designing talent. Jamie McKelvie, Kris Anka, Cameron Stewart, Robbi Rodriguez, Cliff Chiang, etc., are part of a generation of artists who take this job very seriously, and so they make superhero comics smarter and sharper for doing this.
And they’re not the only one. More and 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 experience around with costume concepts – and also the excellent Project: Rooftop curates the best examples. The musty superhero industry would benefit hugely from turning to 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.