We live currently of awesome spiderman costume. The increase 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 your broader audience, supply led to a costuming culture with more to offer than capes and pants.
Superhero costumes have always been an asset to the market, because iconography helps establish character and make up a brand. But the need for costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters seems to be recognized now as never before, creating the increase of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don’t even need to be on a particular book just to be called straight into make-over the characters. This is a great leap forward in understanding just the thing a great costume are capable of doing – and also the special skills required to accomplish it.
Moon Knight was actually 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 find 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 at nighttime – plus a fresh look; a natty white suit. Both elements helped pull Moon Knight from the mire of Marvel’s many failed faux-Batmen to make him his very own man the very first time.
Moon Knight’s new costume right away underlines his insanity – his old white suit has never been the sane strategy to fight crime, and from now on it’s an actual white suit – and exerts his outer calm, his cool lunar placidity. It gives him authority. It makes him scary. And it also makes him the main one superhero detective who dresses something like a detective, which feels as though a statement of purpose.
The suit is just not Moon Knight’s only costume – in their six issues, the creative team also showed us a crazy bone outfit for fighting the occult along with a classical yet still refreshed take on 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. However, if there’s any sense on the planet, it’s the white suit that may become Moon Knight’s new default. It redefines him. It gives him a new place that may be uniquely his within a city of heroes.
Great costumes will offer just this sort of redemption. Shatterstar, a joke of any character along with his mullet and opera cloak, was suddenly credible as a result of a redesign (as well as a fresh haircut) courtesy of Valentine De Landro and David Yardin. Jamie McKelvie’s Captain Marvel design – arguably the obvious trigger to the current “golden age” of spiderman costumes – was all 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 along with the old, victimized, drunken Carol, who did actually prefer editing magazines to flying planes.
It’s tough to believe that even Batman group editor Mark Doyle truly understood what exactly he was tapping into as he handed Batgirl up to the newest creative team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, with Stewart and Tarr collaborating on the character’s new look. I’m sure Doyle expected great things, although the torrent of fan-art that emerged from the 24-hours pursuing the reveal of Batgirl’s new costume was unprecedented. Such was the mania that cosplayers almost immediately bought out your world’s flow of Drench Wellington yellow rubber Doc Marten boots.
What happened with Batgirl was the spark of any movement based in large part on the smart new costume that spoke to Barbara Gordon’s character, intelligence, style, and place in everyday life. This design looked less like a Batman cast-off, and a lot more like something a young woman would make for herself to craft her very own identity within the bat-cowl.
Sure, there were 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 thought 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 know how this fresh look will translate to actual sales – we may never know how well the book sells digitally, where a lot of its market is likely to reside – but the sort of word-of-mouth and online interaction generated through this costume redesign is hugely valuable to your publisher.
A great costume gets viewers excited by telling them what to anticipate. 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 the new Ms. Marvel respected her youth and heritage as opposed to pandering to some traditional crowd.
Plus it works in reverse. Harley Quinn’s New 52 design clearly steered the type in the different direction through the ones fans expected, and sent a transmission to readers as unambiguous as being the one sent by Tarr and Stewart’s Batgirl.
Here’s an announcement I never thought I’d make: I want Marvel to create Gwen Stacy back from your 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 witnessed before plus some brand new ones made for the celebration. And this includes is actually a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, produced by Robbi Rodriguez – and Spider-Gwen wears what I think can be the most popular superhero costume in years.
The Spider-Gwen costume does many things with remarkable economy. It plays beautifully of the iconic form of the highest superhero costume ever conceived, Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man costume. It strikes a contemporary tone with all the hood along with 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 a way that’s going to look powerful in the page. And yes it immediately evokes character. I haven’t even read Spider-Gwen’s first Spider-Verse appearance, and so i currently have a feeling of a tough, haunted, edgy young woman. I’ll eat a set of neon Chucks if that’s not who she is.
Gwen Stacy is supposed 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 like this costume a great deal that, before the Spider-Gwen issue of Fringe of Spider-Verse comes out, I realize I want Gwen back and kicking ass in this costume.
(I am going to be happy with a continuous occur Gwen’s alt universe. Heck, in the event the Ultimate Universe scales straight back to just Miles Morales, a Miles book as well as a Gwen book can be perfect complements to each other. Nevertheless I don’t think that’s where Marvel is heading.)
An incredible costume inspires stories – and tells viewers what kind of stories should be expected. Catwoman created 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 any moment that costume appears in company to a story that doesn’t respect the character. The design-shifting Loki as a puckish young man in swashbuckling adventurer’s attire – yet another Jamie McKelvie design – sparks different stories towards the sinewy old guy with the giant horns. Stuart Immonen’s stylish All-New X-Men harley quinn costume set the time-tossed X-Men within the current day a lot better than any amount of exposition.
Costumes have always been important to superheroes – but perhaps much more than many editors realize. Some artists are fantastic at it, and several are… less great. Like lettering, coloring, inking, editing, or dexrpky99 art, it’s a specialized job that perhaps needs to be reserved for people that have 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 taking this job very seriously, and so they make superhero comics smarter and sharper for doing this.
And they’re not alone. A lot more 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 some of the finest 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 more, to re-energize the genre for tomorrow.