We live currently of awesome cosplay costumes. The growth and rise of cosplay culture, the emergence of comic artists using a savvy idea of fashion, and the slow diversification that’s making heroes palatable to a broader audience, supply contributed to a costuming culture with more to provide than capes and pants.
Superhero costumes have always been an focal point in the business, because iconography helps establish character and make up a brand. But value of costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters is apparently recognized now as never before, resulting in an upswing of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don’t even must be with a particular book to be called directly into make-over the characters. This can be a great leap forward in understanding precisely what a great costume is capable of doing – as well as the special skills required to get it done.
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 at night – plus a change; a natty white suit. Both elements helped pull Moon Knight out of your mire of Marvel’s many failed faux-Batmen and make him his man the very first time.
Moon Knight’s new costume at once underlines his insanity – his old white suit was never the sane strategy 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. Plus it makes him normally the one superhero detective who dresses something like a detective, which seems like a statement of purpose.
The suit is not really Moon Knight’s only costume – within their six issues, the creative team also showed us a crazy bone outfit for fighting the occult as well as a more traditional but nevertheless refreshed handle his old cape-and-cowl look. Both costumes look good and make perfect sense towards 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 will become Moon Knight’s new default. It redefines him. It gives him a brand new place which is uniquely his in a city of heroes.
Great costumes may offer just this sort of redemption. Shatterstar, a joke of any character with his mullet and opera cloak, was suddenly credible due to a redesign (along with 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 phoenix costume – was information on re-positioning Carol Danvers among 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 seemed to prefer editing magazines to flying planes.
It’s hard to suppose that even Batman group editor Mark Doyle truly understood just what 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, nevertheless the torrent of fan-art that emerged in the 24-hours following the reveal of Batgirl’s new costume was unprecedented. Such was the mania that cosplayers very quickly bought out the world’s flow of Drench Wellington yellow rubber Doc Marten boots.
What happened with Batgirl was the spark of your movement situated in large part on the smart new costume that spoke to Barbara Gordon’s character, intelligence, style, and set in daily life. This design looked less like a Batman cast-off, and more like something a young woman will make for herself to craft her identity underneath 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 notion 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 design elements, and that’s how good costume design should work.
We don’t yet know how this change will translate to actual sales – we may never know how well the ebook sells digitally, where much of its market is probably going to reside – but the type of word-of-mouth and internet based interaction generated through this costume redesign is hugely valuable to your publisher.
An excellent costume gets viewers excited by telling them what you should expect. 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 into a traditional crowd.
And it also works in reverse. Harley Quinn’s New 52 design clearly steered the character in the different direction in the ones fans expected, and sent a transmission to readers as unambiguous as the one sent by Tarr and Stewart’s Batgirl.
Here’s a statement I never thought I’d make: I want Marvel to bring 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 seen before and some brand new ones developed for the big event. One of them can be a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, designed by Robbi Rodriguez – and Spider-Gwen wears things i think could be the most popular superhero costume in years.
The Spider-Gwen costume does many things with remarkable economy. It plays beautifully of the iconic model of the very best superhero costume ever conceived, Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man costume. It strikes a contemporary tone together with the hood and also the neon Chucks – although with sufficient restraint that we don’t think it can look dated in years to come. It creates shapes and breaks up space in ways that’s likely to look powerful about the page. Plus it immediately evokes character. I haven’t even read Spider-Gwen’s first Spider-Verse appearance, and that i currently have a feeling of a tricky, 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 vital that you Spider-Man’s development to get undone. Yet I enjoy this costume a whole lot that, just before the Spider-Gwen issue of Fringe of Spider-Verse is released, I understand I want Gwen back and kicking ass in this costume.
(I will settle for a regular set in Gwen’s alt universe. Heck, in case the Ultimate Universe scales straight back to just Miles Morales, a Miles book as well as a Gwen book will be perfect complements to one another. Nevertheless I don’t think that’s where Marvel is heading.)
An incredible costume inspires stories – and tells viewers what sort of stories to anticipate. Catwoman crafted a new sort of sense when redesigned by Darwyn Cooke in 2004 – finally she wore the costume of the 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 shape-shifting Loki as a puckish young man in swashbuckling adventurer’s attire – yet another Jamie McKelvie design – sparks different stories for the sinewy old guy together with the giant horns. Stuart Immonen’s stylish All-New X-Men superman costumes position the time-tossed X-Men from the present-day better than any amount of exposition.
Costumes have been essential to superheroes – but perhaps more so than many editors realize. Some artists are wonderful at it, and several are… less great. Like lettering, coloring, inking, editing, or dexrpky99 art, it’s a specialized job that perhaps should be restricted to those that have the skill set to excel 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 taking this task very seriously, plus they make superhero comics smarter and sharper for doing it.
And they’re not by yourself. A lot 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 perform around with costume concepts – as well as the excellent Project: Rooftop curates 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.