Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Costumes for Catwoman

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!! Consider this part one of my Holiday post, there's more to come later but its still not quite ready--with all the partying this time of year its hard to keep self imposed deadlines because who can find time to actually sit down and write? You might notice that this time instead of using pencil crayons, I did the colours (flats) in Photoshop. That way if I want to polish any of them digitally, step one is completed. At any rate, back to Catwoman and some of my ideas for her look. They range from the practical to the impractical--that's the beauty of comics, if it makes sense internally you can get away with almost anything. For my first look for Selina I opted for the practical. Her mask is actually a helmet, complete with night vision, heat vision, 360 degrees vision and a targeting option. The suit is reinforced black leather with gray piping, designed to resist blunt and piercing weapons attacks. She wears short clawed gray gloves and gray low heeled boots. I also took the liberty of adding a utility belt. It makes sense that in the course of an evening she'd need more than a few accessories so I thought she deserved her own utility belt to keep them in. She also carries a knife but I see this as less of a weapon and more as a utility tool. Knives can come in handy when committing thievery, and she is armed with her traditional weapons: claws and a cat o' nine tails. As I was thinking about design I was also thinking about story, and why she might adopt the various looks I had in mind. These next two looks would require some re-invention of the character where she actually possessed cat like powers. Taking inspiration from native legends of skin-walkers I developed the look of a Catwoman who drew her powers from the skins of the cats she wore as her costume. These skins were recovered from a poacher and when Selina comes across them she becomes Gotham's Guardian of Cats, as well as a cat burglar to fund her various charities. Dyed black as needed she wears the combined skins of lion, jaguar and cheetah--giving her great strength, speed and a natural affinity for climbing and heights. Armed not only with the claws of the cats she cherished, Catwoman still carries her traditional cat o' nine tails to subjugate the humans who dare to come between her and her goals. Instead of a mask she wears the head, skull and mane of the lion, adding to her feral visage. Make no mistake though, this Catwoman is a cunning and crafty creature and wild though she may look, she never loses control. For my next look I drew inspiration from the Egyptian Goddess Bast and gave Selina a more Egyptian look to match. This time she draws her powers from Bast and wears her mask in the Goddess' honour. Gifted by Bast with the gifts of the great cats, Selina, once more becomes a guardian and protector of felines, as well as a thief to defy human society and keep her pact with great Bast and protect the animals she cherishes above all others. She wears a black leather reinforced body suit, with an Egyptian styled kilt and belt. She wears bracelets of gold and her claws, like the Catwomen of T.V. are also gold. She wears her hair in a short bob, dyed blue black, and kept back by the mask she wears. I should confess that my "first" Catwoman was Julie Newmar so I've always sort of gravitated to that look. I indulged myself a little with the gold claws in this Egyptian look but in my next look I drew my inspiration from Julie Newmar as Catwoman and the colouring from my landpeople's cats, of which two are black and white. The look may be a little impractical but I think its fun. She wears a leather body suit, half black and half white, with contrasting opera length leather clawed gloves and contrasting thigh high, high-heeled boots. Her hair is allowed to fall free, though curled up at the ends. She wears a white and black cat styled domino mask and white and black ears are secured in her hair. I've also given her a huge fluffy, animatronic tail that she can brush with various pheromones to instill fear or desire, love or hate in those she encounters on her nightly prowls. This version of Selina Kyle is much more about having fun at the expense of "the man". Catwoman to a certain degree has always been about an independent woman who flaunts traditional values to take up a life of crime. Armed with razor sharp claws, a cat o' nine tails and a generally misandrist attitude Catwoman is more than sex symbol because she reminds us that sex comes with the risk of being played. Catwoman, like the creatures from whom she draws her name and look is an unattainable object of beauty and desire unless you're willing to play the game on her terms. I think that is why Selina is always comes back to Bruce, he can't help but be drawn into playing her games and she delights in her cat and mouse games with the Batman. But then again, what version of Catwoman doesn't?

Join me on Wednesday (Jan 6) to take a look at the various costumes worn by every one's favorite weather witch, the mutant X-man known as Storm. But first check back on New Year's Day for part two of my Holiday Post.

Catwoman, Selina Kyle, Batman, Bruce Wayne and all related symbols, insignia, costumes etc, are all © Trademarks of DC Comics and the images reproduced here are used only as illustrations for the purpose of costume critique and the promotion of DC Comics

Ororo Munroe, Storm, the X-Men and all related symbols, insignia, costumes etc, are all © Trademarks of Marvel Comics and the images reproduced here are used only as illustrations for the purpose of costume critique and the promotion of Marvel Comics

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Slight Delay....

I apologize but due to the wackiness of the Holidays I haven't quite finished my Catwoman post, so please check back with me on December 25, because I have a couple of surprises planned and they should all be ready by then. In the meantime I have received several complaints about the fact that I failed to address Halle Berry's "Catwoman". Now I could do the whole Patience Phillips thing and her not really being Catwoman, but I think it would be simpler if I just answered the complaint and addressed the costume design. It's simple really, it sucks. It makes no sense and is just, really, really terrible--I mean open-toed high heeled boots? C'mon people.

I'll see you in a couple of days.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Catwoman's Closet full of Clothes...

Selina Kyle is without a doubt one of the most important and well-known women in the DCU, though most know her as Catwoman. Over the years her costume has varied wildly and been adapted to better suit the evolution of her character. Catwoman was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane and rumoured to be at least partially inspired by Kane's second cousin by marriage, Ruth Steel. Catwoman, first appears in Batman #1 (Spring 1940) in which she is known as "the Cat". A whip-wielding adversary of Batman, she was a cat burglar with a taste for high-stake thefts. Since that time most modern writers have interpreted her dual-identity as a response to a history of some sort of abuse. Her most popular golden age outfit is the purple dress and cape, one we've seen a few variations on. But I do want to take a moment to address her very first outfit, a little green number. She wears a necklace of gold circles and a matching gold belt. The dress has a low cut tear drop in the front but full voluminous sleeves. It falls into a skirt and she wore white heels to complete the ensemble. Admittedly that isn't as noteworthy as what Batman is saying in the first panel, an interesting statement about how times have changed and how men treat women (at least sometimes in fiction). She still has a ways to go before she becomes the femme fatale we've all come to know and love. From the beginning, Selina was intended to be an anti-hero and occasional ally and love interest of the Batman. Unlike his other foes, she did not kill and seemed to enjoy engaging the Dark Knight in a sort of game of chess. Many times throughout the character's history it has been intimated that Catwoman is Batman's true love. Though she wore this green outfit briefly it certainly made its mark and green remains a recurring colour for Catwoman, which to me seems extremely odd as the only green cat I know of is Battle Cat. Despite the dialogue I enjoy the contemptuous disdain in her posture and facial expressions. She's not wearing any feline accessories that proclaim her dual-identity, she's simply wearing "the cat", an ideal that for centuries men have associated as female. Due to her grace, beauty, grooming habits, aloofness and mysterious behaviour some men see many attributes in the cat that they also seem to see in women. At this point we shall move on to an actual cat costume. We see once more the green in the form of a long cape and now she's wearing a purple evening gown with two slits in the front for her legs. She wears black leather heeled boots, and leaves her long flowing raven hair free from underneath her cowl. She also chose not to wear gloves, disdaining such things as fingerprints or fearing to leave them. To the modern viewer there is a great deal about this costume that is difficult to comprehend. Why would a cat-burglar dress in green and purple? Why wouldn't she wear gloves? And why would she wear high heels if she was running along rooftops as portrayed in this drawing here? But it does look sort of cool, in a retro '50s way--and as for practicality and all those silly questions I asked earlier about this outfit--forget them. I will paraphrase what Lucy Lawless said while portraying herself on "the Simpsons", any time you see something that doesn't make sense, or seem practical in the DC Universe remember its because Superboy-Prime punched a wall. Don't feel bad if that last bit doesn't make sense to you. Its a good thing. While wearing this costume Catwoman reformed for the first of many times. However when she returned to crime she chose to breakaway from her traditional look. Seen here in a dual to the death with Diana Prince: Wonder Woman, Selina has shortened her hair to a bob and exchanged the cowl for a simple red mask with pointed cat ears. She wears a sleeveless black leotard, presumably made of leather with an animated tail, pale blue stockings and blue heeled boots with a red lining rolled over to show said lining. She wears long black opera length gloves, presumably made of leather. She doesn't normally wield a sword, the two are forced to fight one another and of course temporarily become allies. Even in this issue where Catwoman is deliberately looking to make trouble and return to her life of crime she ends up helping Wonder Woman, not that the truce would last. Over the next few years Catwoman had quite a few run-ins with other super-heroines and villains and eventually made it onto TV. In the late 1960's she was played by Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt and Lee Merriweather. All three wore a similar looking black bodysuit with gold claw tips on the gloves and short boots with short heels. A cat mask and cat ears completed the outfit and gave her a slick look. Both Julie Newmar and Lee Merriweather wore their hair down around the cat's ears, but Eartha Kitt had a thick braid wrapped around her ponytail to hold her ears in place. Taking inspiration from this DC introduced a new look for Catwoman, but managed to somehow get it all wrong. Once more they return to green, in an alarming but bold statement. She gets high green boots and green gloves and a necklace of green circles. A textured green body suit and matching mask and ears. Once more she wields her traditional cat o' nine tails, and as is typical of comics at the time she and Batgirl are fighting over Batman. If they'd kept the costume black it would have looked great and like the character in the popular T.V. show, but instead they went back to green and made her look more derivative of the Riddler. As an interesting aside the Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl was also based on the T.V. show but instead of purple and yellow she wears black, blue and yellow--probably to keep in tone with Batman's colours. In 1986 Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli reinvented both Catwoman's origin and her look. Now she is a vengeful prostitute who discovers she can do much better for herself and her proteges' by donning a gray bodysuit, with clawed gloves and attached flat-heeled boots. Selina learns various forms of martial arts and ends up killing her former pimp to rescue her kidnapped sister. She and the Batman engage in a little of their typical cat and flying mouse play and thus the Catwoman is reinvented for the modern age. She wore this costume for some time, appearing in various Bat-related as well as other titles, like Birds of Prey. Eventually her popularity warranted her first eponymous monthly series and artist Jim Balent redefined Catwoman's look once again. Returning to her original Golden Age costume for inspiration he returns her to a purple cowl, with long free flowing hair and a matching purple bodysuit, with black leather gloves and thigh high black leather boots. Still wielding her cat o' nine tails Catwoman is portrayed as an anti-hero though she continues to help Batman and becomes somewhat of a Robin Hood at points. While wearing this costume she participates in events involving the Justice League, the Titans (Teen and Otherwise) and the Birds of Prey. While her series ran for over 7 years in this form she maintained this outfit with variations designed to suit climate and other needs. Sometimes it was done in camouflage, sometimes the suit had additional pieces of armour or toe claws but it always kept the same basic line and look. She wore a bodysuit, gloves, thigh high boots and free falling hair. I must confess that I've always liked the look of this costume best. As impractical as the long hair is, I like long wavy hair, especially when well drawn in fight scenes. The problem is, someone always has to come and make it more real. In "Selina's Big Score" she cuts her hair and makes some major life changes which lead to the cancellation of her first monthly title and the birth of her second eponymous monthly title. She trades in the purple for a leather bodysuit with a front zipper and attached cowl with cat ears. Instead of thigh highs or heels she wears tough looking army boots. She completes this look with goggles that also have a cat ear shape and can possess whatever night or heat vision suits the story best. Her whip doubles as her belt and tail, a cute choice if somewhat impractical and she returns to the streets of Gotham, somewhat reformed and more eager to help make the city safe. The second title lasted almost 6 years before it ended and she remains in this costume, with minor variations to this day. You can follow Catwoman's monthly adventures in "Gotham City Sirens" a great comic that follows the adventures of Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. Its a lot of fun reading about the three girls as they take on Gotham City on their own terms. Its interesting to note how Batman's female enemies tend to keep their truces with the Dark Knight much more effectively than their male counterparts. But Arkham Asylum practically has a revolving door and its inmates, both former and current are apt to change their mood and motivations with little to no warning. I wanted to take a moment to mention the design for Catwoman in Tim Burton's "Batman Returns". Michelle Pfieffer played Catwoman/Selina Kyle and did a great job of capturing her "difficulty with duality". This struggle was mirrored in the Catwoman's costume, shiny black patent leather held together by hand stitched white threads that slowly tore apart and unraveled to mirror the fragile, if volatile psyche she had. Join me next week as we take a look at some designs I had in mind for every one's favorite feline femme fatale, but in the meantime her are some other looks (mostly T.V. & Film) worn by Catwoman:

Catwoman, Selina Kyle, Batman, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Diana Prince and all related symbols, insignia, costumes etc, are all © Trademarks of DC Comics and the images reproduced here are used only as illustrations for the purpose of costume critique and the promotion of DC Comics.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Wardrobe for Wanda

Before I get into the meat of today's post I want apologize for the extremely long leave of absence I took, but as they say real life gets in the way. So to ensure that I update this Blog regularly I've decided to make Wednesday (which is when the new issues of comics for each week reach shelves) the day to make an update, so expect one. I work better when I give myself deadlines. So back to the point of all this, which is...what should Wanda wear?

Now, due to Wanda's extreme power levels she falls into the category of "wear pretty much whatever you like because you're to powerful for it to really matter". Like Jean Grey and unlike Tony Stark, in Wanda's case clothes don't make the man. She warps reality. If she wants to go into battle wearing a bunny costume, as long as her hearing or vision isn't impaired she can still warp you right out of the fight. However, I am by no means proposing she become the Scarlet Rabbit, but like Zatanna in that fabulous game Justice League Heroes she can transform all of her foes into rabbits. So with Wanda, practicality flies out the window and in most of my designs I didn't really concern myself with it.

With my first look I opted for a more classical sorceress look. She wears a red hooded cloak with a dark red lining and side slits for ease of casting and a jeweled fastener. Maybe the jewel is magical, maybe its not the point is you're a rabbit. She wears no gloves (as though finger prints would ever be an issue) but I've given her black ruffled crepe sleeves, and a black leather corset with red trim because the choice of black as her accent colour still leaves her scarlet. She wears comfortably snug suede red leather pants and thigh high matte leather boots with a 3" heel. I gave her the hood so she could have a shadowed face in case she ever wanted to have a private life, and the hood offers some protection for her hair which is something we all know she's concerned with. This look allows her to become more of a frightening figure on the battle field, adding fear to her already awesome array of abilities and acknowledging the darkness in her past. Whether that is being Magneto's daughter, House of M, her children, the Avengers or her own mental instability the legacy of the Scarlet Witch is one shrouded in darkness. But for now, on Earth 616 she lives a peaceful life remembering nothing, with no powers in a small cottage in the shadow of Wundagore mountain. No doubt waiting for the right Marvel Crossover event to align so she can awaken from this altered state and reclaim her rightful place in the Marvel universe.

For my second look I threw practicality out the window and went a little crazy. Instead of a cape I've given her strips of cloth, there could be more and they could be thicker or thinner to suggest a more ragged or shredded cape. I didn't want to simply shred the cape but I wanted that look to acknowledge her less than coherent psyche. I also thought that she'd look very impressive floating above the battlefield, her hair whipping one way in the wind and the pieces of her cape seeming to move with a mind of their own. Again sticking with black rather than pink, I gave her black suede opera gloves, and a red corset with black piping. She wears matte black leather pants with thigh high red leather boots. The boots have no heel for comfort mostly, but heels could literally be added if she wanted. Heels are tricky when thinking of a super-heroine. When you think of someone like Spider-Woman its obvious she'd never wear heels because she climbs up walls, ceilings, buildings, etc. But fliers, like Storm could arguably wear heels since most of the time she's up in the air. It's a moot point, because even if the character normally doesn't wear heels if an artist wants to give her a pair, she gets them. I love heels but have found myself increasingly reticent to give them out to all the heroines and villainesses because so many of them run or fight on their feet. I often ask myself, even if I can lift a car over my head will my heels support the extra weight? And don't even start with adamantium heels.

For my third look I opted for something a little more practical. I know I spent all that time talking about how irrelevant it was but for this look I wanted to be a little bit practical. So first I returned the headpiece. Its classic and fans seem to respond to it well, also it would keep her hair out of her face during battle so she could focus on the delicate intricacies of turning her enemy into jell-o. I gave her a red choker and red leather gloves with a leather bolero jacket. She wears an armoured corset with red piping and red suede riding pants tucked into simple red riding boots. I chose to keep her completely in scarlet for this look because she is the Scarlet Witch after all. I also wanted something that could, if need be blend in a little with normals. Sure she'd be a pretty monochromatic woman but she wouldn't stand out as dramatically as she would in some of the other outfits she's worn in the past. On the other hand, she could just warp her outfit into jeans, a hoodie and a baseball cap so I suppose its irrelevant. Still I thought it looked cool and respectable. In some of her other outfits she's left a lot of skin bare and reality warping or no, who wants to get spanked by some super villain. Sure, she'd turn Electro inside out but why give him the opportunity in the first place? Wear pants into battle, a common theme on this blog. Showing a little cleavage in battle so that the overly testosterone driven supervillain is distracted during the fight is one thing, but wearing a thong is inexcusable.

My last look for Wanda was a little fantasy driven, I'll admit. I think I've stated this more than once, I'm a lover of period or romantic clothing. Wanda is so powerful (until the next time someone rewrites her powers) that she could float into battle with a tea party, and whilst calmly having tea with her guests route the Avengers' foes. I also thought the headpiece she wears does kind of resemble a tiara so I went with a more mystic princess look. Her signature headpiece has been transformed into a tiara and earring set, and her hair curled back to support the diadem and allowed to fall free at the back. She is dressed in a red empire-waist dress with puffed sleeves. Secured to the puffed sleeves by black ties are red gathered sleeves which end in a black ribbon and an over-sized draped and falling cufflet. Under this is a deep red sleevelet that ends in a red ruffled lace trim. Under the gown she wears a black unitard made of unstable molecules for ease of movement. She completes the outfit with a pair of black trimmed red Doc Martens. Not exactly what you'd expect, but I imagine every now and then she'd want to literally kick butt and what says I hate you better than a steel toed kick? I also envision her tea party being disturbed and Wanda leaping from her floating chair to land with an electromantic charge and turn whoever disturbed her into a fine red mist. Of course, it would be a sentient fine red mist as Wanda doesn't so much as kill you, she remakes you into whoever she sees fit. And maybe ultimately that's why they've put her aside for now, because she's just to epic a character to have in your run of the mill fight with Ultron. It's to bad, because I for one believe Wanda Maximoff's story is far from over.

So, be back in a week's time and we'll take a look at one of the original femme fatales, Catwoman...
Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, the Avengers, the X-Men and all related symbols, insignia, costumes etc, are all © Trademarks of Marvel Comics and the images reproduced here are used only as illustrations for the purpose of costume critique and the promotion of Marvel Comics

Catwoman, Selina Kyle and all related symbols, insignia, costumes etc, are all © Trademarks of DC Comics and the images reproduced here are used only as illustrations for the purpose of costume critique and the promotion of DC Comics

Monday, July 20, 2009

Scandal in Scarlet...

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby way back in X-Men #4 (Mar. 1964) the Scarlet Witch first appears as a member of Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. She fights the X-Men in Issues #4, #6, #7 & #11, and then Wanda and her brother reformed and joined the Avengers in Avengers #16. Confused? Me too, but most especially by the Scarlet Witch's head gear. I mean, what is that? Her strange choice of chapeau has been something artists have struggled with since she was created. At this point I have no idea what it is--a strange hood? A wrap to protect her coiffure? A misguided attempt at a crown? I'm not sure... She completes this stunning choice with a red bathing suit worn over a pink bodysuit with red gloves, boots and a cape. I suppose, considering what the rest of the Brotherhood or the X-Men were wearing at that time it can be understood why Wanda might have made some rather alarming choices. Now I know that speaking ill of Jack Kirby is like spitting on the Bible, but it's astonishing to me how many of the Marvel and DC characters I've disliked on look alone were designed by him. Seriously, does anyone else remember the original Loki? Sure now he's a she and seriously sexy but they kept the horns, I personally think to make the Scarlet Witch's head gear a little more palatable. But I digress. The Scarlet Witch became an Avengers character and for the most part remained one until the end of the Avengers series (more on that later). I guess they realized how ridiculous she looked and modified the chapeau to become more of a tiara or perhaps a headband. The bathing suit lost its straps and became more sexy but she kept the pink bodysuit and cape. This is probably her most iconic look. Her powers were simple at this point, Wanda had the mutant ability to manipulate probability via her "hexes", which usually manifested physically as "hex spheres" or "hex bolts". Wanda had a bumpy start with the Avengers, being wounded, disappearing, being kidnapped at least twice, before settling down and really joining the Avengers. Despite an attraction to Hawkeye, Wanda falls in love with Vision, an android created to destroy the Avengers but long since reformed. Despite her brother's initial objections (he couldn't accept the fact that she was in love with a robot), Wanda and Vision married. Shortly after this she finds out that Magneto is her real father and that causes her some stress. Also writer Kurt Busiek redefined Wanda's powers and maintained that they were given to her at birth by a demon named Chthon and the fluctuating levels of power she could access frustrated her further. She and Vision left for a leave of absence and then, thanks to Wanda's new upgraded powers she conceived and bore twins, Thomas and William. They decide after this to form the West Coast Avengers, needing time away from the main team due to Vision's attempt to take over the world. Confused yet? There's more... Wanda then finds out her children are actually two missing shards of the soul of the demonic entity Mephisto, and in an act of "kindness" the witch Agatha Harkness erases all trace of the children from Wanda's mind as the children had to be unmade. Wanda falls into a catatonic state and the Vision abandons her (having been reverted to an emotionless state). Now Magneto is able to take control of his daughter causing her not only to attempt to destroy the West Coast Avengers but change her costume. Wanda cuts her hair (bad choice), loses the head gear (good choice), keeps the red bathing suit (meh), changes to a black bodysuit (she is evil now), keeps the red gloves and boots (why not?) and upgrades her cape with a collar, color change to purple and a "W" front closure (big mistake). All of this must have been a side effect of becoming evil, but Wanda is defeated by her teammates and falls into a catatonic state. She is rescued from this by the Avengers and restored to sanity. She goes on to lead a break away team and Wonder Man dies, shortly thereafter the team dissolves and Wanda returns to the main Avengers team. Some wackiness happens that gets written out of continuity and an upset Wanda confronts Agatha Harkness and discovers her mutant power is actually control of chaos magic. Since the Vision rejected her Wanda uses her powers to bring Wonder Man back to life and the two become lovers. Eventually Wanda and Wonder Man break up because they realize theirs is only a relationship of passion and she returns to her true love Vision and inadvertently becomes energized with even more chaos magic due to villain wackiness. Embracing her power and gypsy roots Wanda dons a new costume. She wears a red corselet, red cape and red skirt with side slits right up to her hip. Bangles, baubles and beads adorn her in the form of earrings, bracelets, anklets and belt. Her hair flows free and she wears high strapped leather sandals, shown here in this picture by artist George Perez. She wore this outfit for some time and I think it's one of my favorite looks the Scarlet Witch has had. Enter writer Brian Michael Bendis who redefined her powers yet again, this time so as to allow the Scarlet Witch to warp reality, something Doctor Strange would later explain. A tipsy Wasp, after returning from an Avengers mission confides in Wanda about her brief pregnancy scare and mentions Wanda's own two children. This causes the Scarlet Witch to remember the children and she goes mad with power and warps reality to devastating effects reverting at some point to a variation of her most iconic look, seen below in a drawing by Adam Hughes. She kills a whole bunch of Avengers and recreates her children but Doctor Strange shuts her mind down and the Avengers and X-Men are left to decide Wanda's fate. Her brother Pietro convinces Wanda to warp reality once again as the Avengers and X-men were planning to kill her and this led to the cross over event, House of M. During this event Wanda granted all the heroes greatest wishes and her own, which was to not be a mutant and the mother of two boys, William and Thomas. I won't go into it now, but for a hilarious parody synopsis check out Wogoat's four part House of M series. Wanda is eventually defeated and punishes her Father by warping reality once again, this time robbing most of the worlds' mutants of their powers and mutations. She apparently loses her own powers and memories and lives a secluded life at the base of Wundagore mountain. Though Wanda is still living at the base of Wundagore mountain the Scarlet Witch can be seen in Mighty Avengers (though it's not really Wanda but the Evil Loki, who probably chose to keep Wanda's classic look because her tiara is more understated than Loki's own). Wanda has also appeared in several animated series, both as a main character and as a recurring character. In most cases she appeared in variations of what she was wearing in the comics, but in the animated series X-Men: Evolution they reinvent her as a goth, abandoned at a mental institute by her father Magneto. When Wanda escapes she is aided in learning to control her powers by Agatha Harkness and Mystique, eventually joining Mystique's brotherhood. She has short black hair with a shaved step cut and the shorter hairs are dyed red. She wears a red bodysuit and long red trench coat. Long black fingerless gloves, an ankh choker and ankh earrings and black boots with armoured greaves complete her look. Once again we see a powerful Wanda, driven mad by the levels of her power. It seems to be a recurring theme with the character, she possesses great power but due to her fractured emotional state of mind is continually losing control of it. To me it seems like an obvious case of misogyny, and Wanda isn't the only all-powerful female red head in the Marvel universe that has had to be repeatedly put down due to going mad because of her power. Even when reinvented in the Ultimates universe Wanda is the victim and ultimately serves as little more than a plot device to motivate her brother. Her costume in the Ultimates universe is very different from her other costumes. A red leather midriff bearing tube top with red accents and what appears to be matching leather pants. She wears no headband and lets her hair flow free, always a good choice in my books. This isn't really the purpose of my blog, but I thought I'd take a moment to get up on the soap box. The Scarlet Witch is an incredibly powerful character who is also very popular. Marvel has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for its female characters whether through overt over sexualization or through the repeated and tired overly emotional female with super powers goes mad plot line. Why can't they tell a story about a powerful woman who can control her powers? Check out Women in Refrigerators or Girl to take a look at some of the atrocities committed in the comic book world to various female characters. You can also follow the battle at Girls read comics and I always encourage people to email editors when they see women being portrayed badly in comics. Join me later this week to see a few ideas I have on what the Scarlet Witch should wear and in the meantime here's a few more pictures of Wanda in various outfits by various artists.

Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, the Avengers, the X-Men and all related symbols, insignia, costumes etc, are all © Trademarks of Marvel Comics and the images reproduced here are used only as illustrations for the purpose of costume critique and the promotion of Marvel Comics

Friday, July 17, 2009

Scarlet Witch coming soon...

But in the meantime here's a picture I drew of DC Comics' Batgirl, Wonder Girl & Starfire (for my Birthday party) all in their early 80's-ish incarnations. At some point in the future I will be discussing all of these ladies, particularly Starfire. The background is a bit of a cheat. I drew the background as boxes copied from a photo and added colours and then photshoped the hell out of it to make it look like that. Buildings are a weaknes of mine, I'm better with organic matter.
(All the usual copyrights apply-Batgirl, Starfire and Wonder Girl are all owned by DC Comics)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

EXTRA!! Supergirl gets shorts!!!

Apparently someone is listening and in June, DC Editor Matt Idelson said "I never want to see Supergirl's panties again.” Check it out, forwarded to me by Ipstenu you can read about it here in Dorothy Snarker's Blog. It's a good first step, DC! We love you Matt!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Solutions for Supergirl...

Sorry about taking so long to post this, I was called away from HQ to investigate reported sightings in Northern Canada of Alpha Flight, Canada's premier superhero team. While I was unable to find them I spent some quality time with a chipmunk, who was more than happy to eat from my hand and promised to alert me to the presence of any badly dressed costume commandos. In case you happen to spot them, this is what Alpha Flight looks like, and as you can see most of them are in desperate need of a makeover. But this post is about Supergirl, who is slightly related to Alpha Flight in that her cousin was created by Canadian born artist Jerry Seigel (with American born writer Joe Shuster) which can only lead one to suppose that in Shuster's mind Canada must be Krypton, and reveals the fact that Americans' fear its eventual overtaking of the world with its superior glacier technology. This also explains the chunky icy look in the film adaptations of the great planet Krypton--where fashion logic does not resemble our Earthly logic. Thankfully Canadians as a society dress better than Kryptonians (we tend to keep our underwear under our clothing) and avoid shiny glow-in-the-dark polyester robes. Supergirl is a character who has had a hard time getting out from under the shadow of her older, more established male cousin. Often portrayed as a female copy of Superman, yet emotional, more gullible and seemed to possess the unspoken super power of falling in love with the villain in disguise. While I find that amusing I'd like to see Supergirl become tougher (and she certainly has since Kara Zor-El was re-introduced into the mainstream DCU by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Michael Turner--read the collected issues in the Superman/Batman TPB "Supergirl"). While still maintaining her sweetness, youthfulness and exuberance she still wasn't afraid to let loose with the heat vision. So I took direct inspiration from her cousin's look and tried to give her a more imposing and powerful look. Her long sleeve mid-riff baring top has been replaced with a no sleeve blue bodysuit and yellow belt with red shorts, red boots and red gloves. I wanted something with clean lines and no cape, as both Superman and Supergirl wear their costumes under their clothes and capes tend to add a lot of bulk. I love a cape as much as the next guy, and certainly Supergirl has little to fear from cape catastrophes I still thought it might be nice to try a capeless look for the Girl of Steel. With that in mind and again looking to Jeph Loeb's re-vamp of the character I decided that I'd like to see a more obvious Amazon influence in her costuming as she states the fact that part of her uniform takes its inspiration from Amazonian culture. While Supergirl generally needs no armour I liked the idea of a stylized breast plate with a reinforced leather bodice and thought the Amazons' would likely have awarded her bracelets as a sign of their acceptance of her. Her hair is slightly inspired by Wonder Woman's from the 1970s Super Friends series. The blue pants and red boots acknowledge her connection to Superman and she still bears his symbol. I also really loved what Jeph Loeb did with Kara and would like to see more of that reflected in her attitude and dress. Anything likely to hurt Supergirl would be more than likely to hurt such a uniform, but I love the idea of Kara playing bullets and bracelets with kryptonite bullets, which since her arrival on Earth have been in plentiful supply (check your local never know). While I believe a lot of said Kryptonite has been locked away for Kryptonian protection, it'll only be a matter of time before the vault explodes and every petty villain will have kryptonite in their backyard. Again. Part of Supergirl's role in the DCU is to act as a balance to her cousin and an inspiration to young women everywhere. In a sense she's a kind of cheerleader or as some prefer "inspiration leader". With that in mind I wanted something cute, and with a skirt and cape. I'm not against either if used properly. Skirts should be at the minimum mid-thigh and accompanied with hot pants or some similar piece of underclothing that you will look decent in when you are inevitably exposed. Capes require a suspension of disbelief for a variety of reasons but they still look good on a hero so we accept them most of the time. Also if composed of Kryptonian fabric the cape affords a shield of invulnerability that is useful in protecting innocent bystanders. I decided to make a nod to her connection to Power Girl in terms of colour scheme while still using to small "S-shields" to anchor her cape, and remind us of her cousin and origin. I kept the gold trim of the Turner design but changed the boots to white. While I recognize for most people white boots are problematic, these are Kryptonian boots which are indestructible, so a quick blast of heat vision or super breath will keep them looking clean and pristine. If Superman is the world's biggest Boy Scout than Supergirl should have at least a dash of Girl Scout, and I like the look of her as the world's deadliest cheerleader. I think it was Peter David who spoke of the Supergirl we all love and remember as the 1960s-70s Supergirl full of innocence and joy and ready to fall in love with any handsome super-villain she could find. Peter David's run on Supergirl was amazing, and while Kara Zor-El was not the title character her presence resonated throughout the series. You should read it (though only two TPBs were released the first one simply called "Supergirl" introduces us to Matrix and tells the story of how she becomes Linda Danvers, and the second, "Supergirl: Many Happy Returns" introduces Linda Danvers to Kara Zor-El). At any rate I digress, though good stories artist Ed Benes in the second TPB transforms Linda's skirt into little more than a spandex belt. The last thought on Kara that I have is actually Kara Zor-L, or perhaps as she's better known--Power Girl. For a long time she's been unable to publicly acknowledge her ties to both Krypton and the House of El (or L). Now everyone knows she's the Earth Two Superman's cousin from an alternate dimension, here as a powerhouse in the JSA and now appearing in her own eponymous monthly title. So I thought an addition was an order. I know it's a big gag in the comics world--the size of Power Girl's boobs and that her boobs are her symbol, but I think it's a little old. She can have an "S" and still bare a bit of chest, and while we're at it, notched bottoms--NO THONGS. I really quite like Power Girl and really enjoy Amanda Conner's art--I'm looking forward to reading it. I am very far behind on my comic book reading and have a week's worth of reading to do to catch up. I'm also collaborating on my own original works including an online comic or two and some animated stuff, but more on that later. So between chipmunks, hunting for Sasquatch and all the rest, the Fashion Sentinel has been a little busy as of late. But not so busy that I haven't been constantly attempting to locate my many and various targets. As the Fashion Sentinel I often feel it is part of my duty to avenge the costume crimes committed against the various heroes and villains I target. After all, its not their fault if they look bad, they're just drawn that way. Sometimes it seems to me that the artists and writers aren't giving the characters the portray enough respect, and with that we come to my latest target in need of avenging. TARGET ACQUIRED: Wanda Maximoff AKA the Scarlet Witch and member of the Avengers.
Superman, Supergirl, Power Girl, Wonder Woman, Kara Zor-El, Kara Zor-L, Linda Danvers, Matrix and all related symbols, insignia, costumes etc, are all © Trademarks of DC Comics and the images reproduced here are used only as examples of my ideas for various costumes and the promotion of DC Comics
Alpha Flight, the Scarlet Witch, the Avengers and all related symbols, insignia, costumes etc, are all © Trademarks of Marvel Comics and the images reproduced here are used only as illustrations for the purpose of costume critique and the promotion of Marvel Comics

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Marvel Villains

I must confess to one of my biggest difficulties enjoying Marvel Comics--the look of the Marvel Villains. They are definitely working on it, but when I can bring myself to draw your attention to it, get ready for some truly frightening looks...and I don't mean scary. In the meantime here's a hilarious cartoon look at the villains in the Marvel Universe. Brought to us by and the brilliant Wogoat (and associates) take a look at "Marvel Villains Assemble".

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Supergirl, the girl with a 1000 costumes

I wanted to confirm a few important facts before I made this post. When I review these costumes I like to look at them within the context of the comic book world they were created in because obviously we know there is no real skin tight fabric that could be made into a costume that would survive in battle for more than a few seconds. In most of her incarnations, Supergirl has access to Kryptonian fabric and it shares in her invulnerability to a certain degree. But not all Supergirls are Kryptonian and have access to all her powers. Seen here in a drawing by Ed McGuinness is a collection of the various Supergirls, going clockwise from the top left we have Linda Danvers (the Earth Born Angel), Kara Zor-L (Supergirl from a Parallel Earth), Cir-El (a human hybrid clone genetically engineered to have Kryptonian-esque powers)& Kara Zor-El (another Supergirl from a Parallel Earth). In the bottom left corner we have Bizzaro (an imperfect Clone of Superman) presenting these Supergirls to the Supergirl of the primary Earth in DC Comics. Its confusing, but I figured we needed that much information to address the various costumes she has worn. We'll start in the sixties when Supergirl made her first appearance. Originally created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino Kara Zor-El arrived on Earth and was the long lost cousin of Superman, whom he hid in an orphanage so that she could be his secret weapon in times of need. Eventually he allowed her to be adopted and go public with her Supergirl persona and after time, the girl could not decide what to wear. She originally appears in a simple blue dress with a short skirt, belt boots and cape. This costume was made by her mother after they had spent some time watching Superman on a "super-telescope" from the floating Argo City which was doomed much like its home planet Krypton. However once she went public it seemed Kara decided she needed to mix it up a little. So she traded in her cute mini dress for some shorts and a blousy top--its not entirely her fault it was the early seventies, and for superheroes a particularly interesting time in terms of fashion. Artists were starting to become a little more fashion conscious and started drawing their female character in different outfits that they supposed were a little more hip. It was shortly after this point that the Supergirl eponymous title offered reader/artists the chance to design new Supergirl costumes and she would wear winning designs in the book. One such costume, pictured her, shows Kara being fitted by Diana Prince (aka Wonder Woman who at this point in her life is a super spy/Mod Boutique Owner), in the panel they promise to reveal which contributing artist designed the costume in the next issue as well as several other designs. Here she wears a long sleeved variant of her blue mini-dress, adds red trim to the hem of her skirt, a seventies-rific belt, thigh high red boots, red gloves and keeps her cape. It's a cute look and probably a step up from the blousy shorts and shirt combo but that outfit returned and she continued to wear variations of the blouse/shorts outfit over the years until the 1980's when Supergirl got her second eponymous title, and after a few issues got a brand new look to go with it. The S-logo on her chest is lifted to her collar and attached to her cape, which gives her a neat draping look with the cape sometimes. Her red shorts became a red kilt and a v-shaped belt was added, along with boots to complete the look. Than she added one more thing, a red headband which in Kryptonian custom only men wore. I'm all about remembering past traditions but...let me put it this way, my ancestors were hanging people they suspected of being cattle thieves because they had wire cutters on them. I'm sure if I resurrected this tradition and starting hanging people who came around my house with lock picks or glass cutters it would be frowned upon. And whether DC agrees or not I think that headband was one of the factors that led to Kara Zor-El's death in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" (which has been released in TPB form--go by it its a great Supergirl story). They claim they wanted to return to the idea of Superman being the last son of Krypton and rebooted a great many of titles. They quickly realized though, that people wanted a Supergirl and they made a couple of efforts to satisfy that desire. Supergirl's first feature length film had been released a couple of years prior to "Crisis" and the look she wore in the movie was a mix of different comic looks and has become one of the most recognizable looks for Supergirl. Say what you will about the movie (I loved it but I saw it when I was a kid so...) but Helen Slater joins the list of people who were cast absolutely perfectly to play the role of a superhero. It was a lot of fun but something more suitable for kids to watch than adults (unless like me you enjoy a healthy helping of cheese with your movies). Seen here in a still shot in the fictitious town of Leesburg, Supergirl prepares to defend the innocent. So when DC comics reintroduced the character of Supergirl she was reinvisioned as a protoplasmic matrix made in honour of Superman with telekinetic and other gifts that allowed her to mimic his powers. The look of Helen Slater's Supergirl was so popular they simply adapted the costume and the Matrix Supergirl was born, or Mae as she was called by the Kents who helped her adjust to life on earth. She floundered around for a little while until getting her own series written by Peter David, drawn by various artists over it's six year run. I avoided this series like the plague because to me there was only one Supergirl: Kara Zor-El, Superman's cousin from Krypton. The little I knew about was the Matrix Supergirl had merged with the dying body of a woman named Linda Danvers and now as one they were fighting crime. Meanwhile the "supergirl" of Earth Two who was known as Power Girl was also kicking around, but she'd been given a new Atlantean origin and thinks got more confusing from there. Eventually they settled on the white uniform pictured her with the circle peek-aboo to show off Power Girl's ample chest--which has become something of a joke in the industry. In this picture by Amanda Conner Power Girl is rethinking her life and trying to understand her place on this Earth. It is eventually revealed to her that she's Superman's cousin from another universe and in a tearful explanation to this Earth's Superman Power Girl explains that the hole in her costume was left open because she didn't feel worth to wear the S-logo and left it blank until she could. Power Girl is now appearing in her own monthly title and I encourage you to support if for no other reason than Amanda Connor's art which is great for this character and drawing women in general. Meanwhile in Supergirl's 3rd eponymous title, it got more complicated than it had previously been and Linda Danvers had to find a new outfit. Forced to pick clothes from a Superhero-centric store she came up with this ensemble. A white crop top with black trim at cuffs and hem with the standard S logo, a blonde wig and headband (which stuck to her head due to the telekinetic nature of her powers) a blue mini skirt that's often drawn as little more than a large spandex belt that barely covers her, white gloves (presumably to hide her fingerprints) and red chunky heeled lace up boots. Not bad and definitely different from any outfit she'd previously worn. It wasn't until the 79th issue of the book that I actually read it and, boy was I amazed. I've since tracked down Peter David's entire Supergirl run and let me tell you, it is awesome. Despite the dramatic changes imposed on him by DC he never lost sight of Kara and though she isn't the main character, Kara is a guiding force in Linda Danvers life. The book was cancelled with issue #80 (I think) and Linda Danvers retired her cape and disappeared to make room for a new Supergirl, this one called Cir-El. Cir-El was part of a plot by Superman's enemies to make his life more difficult and she was presented to him as his daughter from the future. He eventually figured that out and she faded into obscurity or maybe disappeared from the time line, I'm not to sure. I was not in favour of this new Supergirl anymore than I had been in favour of Linda, despite the fact that this Supergirl broke from the previously established costume mold even farther than any Supergirl before. Seen here in a drawing by Ed McGuinness, Cir-El is wearing a black unitard with a mostly full bottomed seat and a red S painted across it, a blue cape, black boot and black gloves, but also black short hair. The first time any Supergirl hadn't been a blonde. Cir-El was a temporary measure and finally 20 years after her death in Crisis Kara Zor-El officially returned to the main Earth of the DCU. This time the story was complicated by the involvement of both Batman and later Wonder Woman so Supergirl ends up hiding out in the Fortress of Solitude while Supes and Bats do their tests. Superman gets Lois Lane to buy her clothes, having never met her and she comes up with this top (which suggestively features a snap crotch) and low riding jeans, as demonstrated in this picture by artist Michael Turner. If your partner came to you and asked you to buy clothes for a sixteen year old girl you'd never met, would you buy her slut wear? In another shot, also by artist Turner you can see Kara in another Lois provided outfit, this one contrasted by what Supes is wearing--his typical Clark Kent suit and tie ensemble. Is there a power deferential here? You tell me. I can just imagine how the conversation went; Clark: "Honey my sixteen year old cousin crashed on earth a few days ago and Batman thinks she's evil so can you buy here some clothes, I think she's a size 0." Lois: "No problem Honey, I just did a Pulitzer winning expose on a bunch of underage hookers and I can get some of their clothes from the Police impound with my contacts there." Having established casual clothes for Kara, Clark takes her out shopping which,"like any normal earth girl" she loves. Wackiness ensues and Kara ends up moving to paradise island where she trains to be a warrior and Clark goes home to get his Mom, you know wholesome Kansas born and Bred Martha Kent to sew a Supergirl costume for Kara (whom she's never met--"C'mon Ma, she's a size 0 I'm sure we've still got enough Kryptonian fabric somewhere.") as she's determined to join the "family business" of righting wrongs and triumphing over evil. Eventually presented with the costume (as seen here in art from Superman/Batman #12, again by artist Michael Turner, Kara at last wears her uniform as she and Superman fly cross country so that Clark can at last introduce his cousin to his adopted parents. Kara, of course, loves her uniform.I want to point out again that Ma Kent, having never met this girl made her a crop top with long sleeves and a mini skirt that puts the mini in minimum length of skirt to avoid portraying superhookers. This also established Kara as one of the thinnest superheroines and unlike Power Girl her breasts were not large and out of control. Now she just looks like in order to maintain her figure and be able to wear the costumes and clothes provided to her shes' decide to never eat again and live off solar energy. If I ever get the chance to pitch a Supergirl story to DC that'll be it: Supergirl "Anorexia", take another look at her waist and you tell me how often you think this girl eats. Both these pictures were drawn by Turner but the super thinness of Supergirl was continued by other artists even up to today. Supergirl needs to eat and dress less like a teenage hooker and more like the hero she's supposed to be. Kara Zor-El's reintroduction into the comic world
was a big deal and I still follow her monthly title despite the fact that internally it makes no sense that her costume should look like that. Do you really expect us to believe Ma Kent would make something like that? She'd have shortened the sleeves or cape to extend the skirt. And would Superman, big over protective cousin that he is, want his sixteen year old only relative wandering around like that? Most importantly, how must Kara feel as everyone around her keeps trying to shoe horn her into impossibly small and embarrassingly revealing clothing? Maybe I'm asking to much of the industry to be internally consistent, or maybe the artist needs to pay more attention to the clothing and where its coming from. I've heard rumours that this look for Kara was based on looks worn by Paris Hilton. Why would they do that? Why dress someone whose supposed to be good and kind with someone whose only just now growing out of her slutty selfish phase and whose mostly famous just for being rich? Well, I guess there's not much more I can do about it. Except wait for DC to come to their sense and hire me as a fashion consultant. All the comics companies could use the services provided by the Fashion Sentinel. I've also received reports on DC Comics' Edward Nygma AKA the Riddler, Marvel Comics' Hank Pym AKA Yellow Jacket, Giant Man and Ant-man, and Marvel Comics's Hercules. Thanks to Ipstenu for turning these criminals in, and Fashion Sentinels have been dispatched to locate them. Join me in my next post as we take a look at some of my ideas of what Supergirl should wear and I'll leave you with a few more images to spark your own thoughts...

Superman, Supergirl, Power Girl,
Darkseid, Kara Zor-El, Kara Zor-L, Linda Danvers, Matrix, Cir-El, and all related symbols, insignia, costumes etc, are all © Trademarks of DC Comics and the images reproduced here are used only as illustrations for the purpose of costume critique and the promotion of DC Comics