We live currently of awesome cosplay costumes. An upswing and rise of cosplay culture, the emergence of comic artists using a savvy knowledge of fashion, and also the slow diversification that’s making heroes palatable to a broader audience, supply contributed to a costuming culture with a lot more to supply than capes and pants.
Superhero costumes have invariably been an asset to the market, because iconography helps establish character and make a brand. But the value of costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters appears to be recognized now as never before, resulting in the increase of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don’t even must be on the particular book to be called in to make-across the characters. This is a great leap forward in understanding exactly what a good costume can perform – and the special skills required to accomplish it.
Moon Knight was really a mess of a character before his 2014 revival in the hands 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 – along with a change; 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 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, now it’s an actual white suit – and exerts his outer calm, his cool lunar placidity. It gives him authority. It can make him scary. And it makes him usually the one superhero detective who dresses such as a detective, which seems like a statement of purpose.
The suit is not Moon Knight’s only costume – within 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 carry out his old cape-and-cowl look. Both costumes look wonderful and make perfect sense on 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 brand new place which is uniquely his very own inside a town of heroes.
Great costumes can provide just this sort of redemption. Shatterstar, a joke of the 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 d.va costumes – 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 as well as 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 what exactly he was tapping into as he handed Batgirl up to the brand new 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, however the torrent of fan-art that emerged within the 24-hours after the reveal of Batgirl’s new costume was unprecedented. Such was the mania that cosplayers very quickly bought out your world’s supply of Drench Wellington yellow rubber Doc Marten boots.
What happened with Batgirl was the spark of the movement located in large part on the smart new costume that spoke to Barbara Gordon’s character, intelligence, style, and set in everyday life. This design looked less such as a Batman cast-off, and much more like something a young woman will make for herself to craft her very own identity beneath the bat-cowl.
Sure, there was critics. Fans whose philosophy on everything 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. Nevertheless 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 know how this new look will translate to actual sales – we may never learn how well it sells digitally, where a great deal of its market will probably reside – but the kind of word-of-mouth and web-based interaction generated through this costume redesign is hugely valuable to your publisher.
A great costume gets a crowd excited by letting them know 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 to the new Ms. Marvel respected her youth and heritage rather than pandering to your traditional crowd.
Plus it works in reverse. Harley Quinn’s New 52 design clearly steered the type in a different direction in the ones fans expected, and sent a signal to readers as unambiguous since the one sent by Tarr and Stewart’s Batgirl.
Here’s an announcement I never imagined I’d make: I want Marvel to create Gwen Stacy back from 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 some brand new ones developed for the event. Among them can be a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, created by Robbi Rodriguez – and Spider-Gwen wears what I think might be my personal favorite superhero costume in years.
The Spider-Gwen costume does many things with remarkable economy. It plays beautifully of your iconic model of the 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 – however with sufficient restraint i don’t think it can look dated in many years to come. It generates shapes and breaks up space in ways that’s likely to look powerful in the page. And it immediately evokes character. I haven’t even read Spider-Gwen’s first Spider-Verse appearance, and so i curently have feelings of a tough, haunted, edgy young woman. I’ll eat some neon Chucks if that’s not who she 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 essential to Spider-Man’s development to get undone. Yet I like this costume a whole lot that, prior to the Spider-Gwen issue of Side of Spider-Verse arrives, I am aware I want Gwen back and kicking ass within this costume.
(I will accept a regular that is set in Gwen’s alt universe. Heck, if the Ultimate Universe scales to just Miles Morales, a Miles book along with a Gwen book can be perfect complements to one another. Nevertheless I don’t think that’s where Marvel is heading.)
A great costume inspires stories – and tells a crowd what kind of stories to expect. Catwoman crafted a new sort of sense when redesigned by Darwyn Cooke in 2004 – finally she wore the costume of the master thief, no Olympic luge rider. It causes whiplash whenever that costume appears in company to a story that doesn’t respect the type. The shape-shifting Loki like a puckish young man in swashbuckling adventurer’s attire – an additional Jamie McKelvie design – sparks very different stories on the sinewy old guy using the giant horns. Stuart Immonen’s stylish All-New X-Men deadpool costume position the time-tossed X-Men within the modern a lot better than any quantity of exposition.
Costumes have invariably been vital that you superheroes – but perhaps much more than many editors realize. Some artists are great at it, and some are… less great. Like lettering, coloring, inking, editing, or dexrpky99 art, it’s a specialized job that perhaps should be restricted to people that have the skill set to do well at it.
Thankfully the comic industry has never had such an abundance of designing talent. Jamie McKelvie, Kris Anka, Cameron Stewart, Robbi Rodriguez, Cliff Chiang, etc., are component of a generation of artists having this task very seriously, and they also make superhero comics smarter and sharper because of it.
And they’re not alone. Increasingly more artists are showing their designer flare in addition to their grasp of contemporary style. Sites like Tumblr and DeviantArt provide fertile ground for artists to experience around with costume concepts – and the excellent Project: Rooftop curates some of the best examples. The musty superhero industry would benefit hugely from switching to 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.