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

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A few suggestions for Ms Frost...

I'd meant to post this last night but instead fell into an intense discussion with a couple members of my fashion team, Nicole and Gary about Emma's clothes. To be honest I'd not been very happy with what I'd come up with initially, which I'll discuss with you in a couple of moments and together we refined our thoughts and settled on a couple of what I think are really good looks that still acknowledge her complicated and confusing origin. Also Gary reported mutant and X-Man member Hank McCoy AKA Beast to the D.S.D.C.C. (Department of Superheroes' Dress Code & Critique) and we are dispatching Sentinels to locate him immediately. You can contact the D.S.D.C.C. at ghirdietus@gmail.com to report suspected violators of D.S.D.C.C. policies. Now, back to Emma Frost, teacher, CEO, millionaire and one of the well known faces of mutant kind, why do you even wear a costume? Oh yes, because you're a superhero--and at first that limited me too. My first take on her was to return her to a bob hairstyle (long hair is impractical in battle, even if I prefer it in theory) restored her to a stylized 18th century leather corset and the riding boots she wore with her original Hellfire Club outfit. I added a jacket with rounded lapels and of course suede pants and a white choker. I only gave Emma a single X logo on her belt buckle because I find it hard to believe she'd want to promote the team over herself. In my second take on her we still have the corset and pants, though I've extended the length of the corset to cover her midriff and changed her boots to clunky platform thigh high heels. I've added a white trench coat for a longer look to compliment the length of her hair and kept gloves (best to leave no fingerprints even if people know your face). This time the X logo is smaller and appears on her choker. I'd like to take a moment to address the issue of corsets, and how placement of lacing is incredibly important. Historically when women wore corsets, it denoted either lower class or prostitution to wear a corset that laced up the front. The wealthy had servants so their corsets laced up the back, and as such I've placed Emma's lacing to the back where it belongs. Besides when Wolverine is on your team, do you really want to give him access to your corset strings so with a simple snickty snak you're now topless and at the very least inconvenienced if not furious? I like the look of both these outfits but in many ways they're just pastiches of her other costumes and left me feeling vaguely dissatisfied. After talking with my fellow fashionistas I came up with some ideas that please me a whole lot more. We thought about Emma's origins in the Hellfire Club, who dressed in "oldey-timey" clothes and then discussed Marie Antoinette and Elizabeth as well as other famous and influential historical women who chose to adopt men's clothing styles to a certain degree and decided to give Emma a look that pays homage to her origins, her apparent and unexplained need to show off her curves and the power she possesses both as a mutant and a business woman. Here she wears a white satin frock coat, white gloves, a white silk brocade vest, matching satin breeches and white knee high boots. Her long hair is swept up and pulled back in a loose bun and she wears little to no jewelery. In keeping with historical tradition Emma has left the last couple of buttons on her vest open to show she is a "gentleman". I think women dressed in men's period clothing are extremely sexy and powerful looking and would have loved to see Emma dispensing justice to Sebastian Shaw in the Uncanny X-men Annual #2 (the Black King of the Hellfire Club) in an outfit more like this than the one she wore in the issue. We still weren't happy though and it's for this simple reason: Emma, everyone knows who you are--why spend extra money on costumes that have a habit of frequently being destroyed and are undoubtedly expensive? Here's our revolutionary suggestion for Ms Frost...sweetie just wear last seasons' clothes into battle. There's no point to the theatrics of a costume when a power suit can be just as commanding and is in many ways a uniform/costume itself. This is a woman who knows her clothing, designers, labels and what makes an impression and her clothing needs to reflect it, so straight from the board room to the battle field we give you Emma in a business suit with shoes by Christian Louboutin (the holy grail of the shoe world). This time we've also added jewelry, dangling diamond earrings and a diamond necklace if for no other reason than to compliment her in both her human and diamond forms. The business suit itself consists of a fitted short waisted linen jacket, and complimentary mini skirt which is a blend of 70% linen and 30% unstable molecules (a special fabric found only on Earth 616) which allows her freedom of movement in diamond form. Underneath the jacket she wears a silvery white lacy camisole and white matte satin gloves complete the outfit. Since the shoes are Louboutin this brings up a perfect opportunity to address the heel. Due to Emma's change in weight, strength and density when she changes to her diamond form regular heels just wouldn't do. She'd be leaving fights constantly to purchase new shoes. We suggest she have custom adamantium reinforcements in her heels which will not only insure they won't break easily as adamantium (also available only on Earth 616) is largely unbreakable, but make them weapons grade heels if she feels the need to make a point. At the end of the day I just don't see why she'd wear a costume at all, her fabulousness should be costume enough. Nicole said if she could draw and was working for the industry it would be her favorite part of the job researching current fashions and finding just the right look for each character and I agree heartily. Some artists, like George Perez, Phil Jimenez and the Dodsons to name a few are very fashion conscious but then there are artists who don't really seem to think about what the characters wear at all except for how their costume looks and rarely think about whether or not the character in question would wear such an outfit. There are costumes heroes wear that are given to them by family members or friends but when the artist actually draws the outfit it seems like no one informed him/her of that very relevant fact, but we'll talk about that in my next post...TARGET ACQUIRED Name: Kara Zor-El, Kara Zor-L, Linda Danvers, Matrix and Cir-El A.K.A. Supergirl.Emma Frost, the White Queen, the Black Queen, Sebastion Shaw, the Black King, the Hellfire Club, 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 examples of my ideas for her costume and the promotion of Marvel Comics

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 image reproduced here (penciled by Ed Benes) is used only as an illustration for the purpose of costume critique and the promotion of DC Comics

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wow - thanks!

Thanks for all the links out there already, and thanks to Marissa at Trendhunter Magazine, who called this blog an 'insightful critique'. Well, I've given these issues alot of thought.

My suggestions for Emma are coming later tonight!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Emma Frost, looking back...

Emma Frost was created by writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne and as you can see here in this picture by Jim Lee there wasn't a lot to her costume. Emma has already violated both rules #1 and #2 with her thong, and at this point in her career she's very vulnerable to bullets, knives, punches, and other physical violence, provided you could get close to her. It doesn't make a lot of sense considering the male members of the Hellfire Club wore period clothing that looked 18th century while the female members wore 19th century corsets and modern day thongs with riding boots and fur trimmed capes. Maybe all comic book artists should be required to wear thongs if they draw women in them so they can understand, at the least, how distracting or uncomfortable they can be. Nevertheless this look has proved incredibly popular despite it's many inherent flaws and continues to be portrayed in other media. She wore this outfit in the 1990s X-Men cartoon and has been seen in it again as recently as Whedon and Cassaday's run on Astonishing X-Men. There was a comiquette (designed by Adam Hughes) that features her in this outfit. She is of course dropping her cape to reveal her thong, and as if the naked flesh wasn't enough they've used a glossy paint on her skin tone so it looks like she's been oiled. While she may have spent some time as a stripper whilst infiltrating the Hellfire Club she was Chairman of the Board and CEO of Frost International which helped to fund the Hellfire Clubs' activities and you expect me to believe she would dress like this? There must have been some deep seated need for attention she was gratifying in order to justify wearing this that being the CEO of an International Corporation and one of the most powerful telepaths on the planet couldn't provide. What that was, you'll have to ask Claremont and Byrne, because I have no clue. To put it in perspective she is also running a school for "gifted students" (aka mutants) and this is her battle gear? I don't think so. Emma's school was destroyed and the X-Men found her in a coma and through a series of events chronicled in the X-Men TPB "The Phalanx Covenant" she winds up becoming a teacher again, this time with the help of Charles Xavier and X-Man Banshee. Being a good guy caused her to have a costume change which resulted in what is probably my favorite White Queen costume. It consisted of a white corset, white pants, white thigh high boots, white jacket and for teaching purposes a white riding crop to use as a pointer. Finally it seemed she had come to her senses, but after some familial conflicts that led to her murdering one of her pesky sisters and Banshee's uncontrollable drunkenness the school closed down and she moved to Genosha to teach. Unfortunately Genosha was completely destroyed shortly thereafter and Emma was presumed dead, but she had developed a secondary mutation. Now able to transform her body into a diamond hard substance she joins the X-Men in part to replace fallen X-Man Colossus. As an aside using Emma in the X-Men was suggested to writer Grant Morrison on his website and he developed this secondary mutation to give her a place on the team. Of course joining the team meant a new costume and artist Frank Quietly was only to happy to comply. The costume he created brings us to Warrior Woman Rule #3 "Just say no to camel toe" which not even artist Greg Horn could render without still leaving me cringing. There was really no logic to it and I constantly wonder how her breast cups are supposed to stay on. Are they adhered somehow? And if so what happens to the adherent when she changes to diamond form? I just can't imagine fighting would be remotely comfortable in that outfit, and would question any member of my super hero team if they showed up for work dressed like that, ex-stripper or no. Thankfully it didn't last long and she was given pants and a trench coat to at least cover part of her shame, but did nothing to insure her top stayed on. It seems like no matter what Emma wears there must always be a level of erotica but please lets try and avoid the sleaze. It wasn't long before she was a leading X-Man and had successfully stole Jean Grey's husband (?) and someone must have pointed out the impracticality of breast cups or perhaps some sort of divine inspiration and she decided it was time for yet another outfit change. Don't kid yourself and think she's constantly changing outfits because of a limited colour palette, it just seems some superheroes change costumes more than others. While I might question the combo of corset and cape if for no other reason than sheer weight, the look is a definite improvement, seen here in a drawing by Michael Turner. She has pants, which I'm a big fan of and the cape can drape around her giving her slightly intimidating look. On the other hand she is wearing an off the shoulder top and midriff baring corset/cape ensemble and while she can read your mind and turn into a diamond she can't do both at the same time and all it takes is one lucky shot. Throughout most of this period she wears white lipstick, as seen here in a still shot from "Wolverine and the X-Men". White lipstick troubles me. On the one hand it certainly gives her a unique look as one of the few if not only women in comics to make that lipstick choice, and yes she is the White Queen, but white lipstick always calls to my mind images of 1970s hookers. This costume has been tweaked and appears with slight variations in several X-titles as well as the animated television series Wolverine and the X-Men (which is pretty awesome). However as of X-Men #513 all of this is changing as Emma Frost becomes leader of the all new, all deadly Dark X-Men. While the issues have yet to be released I've seen the cover and a sketch by Terry Dodson and I think the outfit looks good. This time she's changed her nom de guerre to the Black Queen and accordingly she's wearing all black. It seems Emma likes to work with a monotone colour palette. Once more we have a cape/top combo only she's added an inverted triangle midriff peekaboo and black shiny pants and seemingly a pair of boots/shoes. It will be interesting to see how this fashion choice affects her as former Black Queens Selene and Emma Steed are both still wandering around Earth 616 and might take issue with it. On the other hand, her Black Queen outfit is better than either of theirs, at least in my humble opinion. Choosing to become the Black Queen will also likely cause all sorts of problems for Emma in her relationship with Scott Summers, but I suspect that's the point. At least this new outfit commands some respect and if she's going to add Leader of the Mutants to her long list of titles she needs to make sure she doesn't look like trash because she has to appeal to more than just the western world. It definitely looks like it'll be a very interesting read, as most of the Dark Reign stuff has been so far. Marvel is doing some really interesting things and I look forward to seeing what will come not only of Emma's fashion choices but her other choices as well. In my next post I'll reveal a couple of my own designs for possible Emma costumes--but I'm still in love with the White Queen. In the meantime, here's a couple more pictures of Emma through the ages...

(Image credits going clockwise from left to right: Frank Quietly, Phil Jimenez and Terry & Rachel Dodson for the last two--I apologize to inkers and colourists whose names I don't know)

Emma Frost, the White Queen, the Black Queen, 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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A thought for Diana...

(For a Wonder Woman retrospective, check out yesterday's post.)
So this is a quick sketch I put together (ink and pencil crayons) which I think would look fabulous on the Amazon Princess. Again I'm a little hooked on the armour, but she is a warrior princess after all. If Diana must continue wearing the shorts, I recommend a full bottomed short with a slightly higher cut in the front to allow for ease of leg movement. I'm especially fond of the reinvent logo drawn and inked by Terry and Rachel Dodson, so I used that logo design in my own. Here's another ink/pencil crayon version I've drawn illustrating the high cut, full bottomed shorts that the Dodsons returned us to. I cannot stress enough how there is no place in the world of superheroics for a thong. There are many difficulties superheroes face and it's important for artists to recognize that and reign in the urge to turn their costumes into thinly veiled excuses for drawing soft core pornography. There is a certain amount of sensuality inherent in comics because they are wearing skin tight costumes and have a funny habit of being beautiful or strikingly handsome. I suppose my last thought on Diana's costume is this, provided she avoids thongs like the plague, her armoured bodice and bracelets combined with her strength and reflexes should provide her with enough protection in combat to make wearing that outfit practical in most situations, though still I'd encourage her to revisit the idea of pants. Both her sister, Donna Troy and protege Wonder Girl have found great success in pants or bodysuits and maybe Diana should give it a try. On the other hand, her customary costume does flatter her and allows for the opportunity to flirt with eligible bachelors, and lets face it, how does one get the Batman's mind off crime? I drew this image first in pencils, inked it and did colours, blending, finishing, etc. with Photoshop. Please note the full bottomed shorts Diana wears. I call this image "Stolen Moments". Ever since the Justice League episode "Maid of Honor" I've always been a huge fan of the Diana and Bruce relationship and hope she teams up with Red Robin to track that man down. Though I suppose teaming with Booster Gold might help her find him more easily, all things considered. But I suppose that's enough for Diana. It's highly unlikely DC will ever seriously consider modifying her outfit because of its iconic status, thanks in large part to Ms Lynda Carter (who incidentally is singing these days and released a CD you can check out at http://www.lyndacartersings.com/home.html). I still remember her singing on the Muppet Show and Miss Piggy's antics as Wonder Pig. One can never be safe when there are giant chickens wandering around. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and hope you join me next time. So not to seem to DC focused I'm going to take a look at one of Marvel's X-men whose costume choices over the years have ranged from insanely impractical to something a little more stylish and then something a little, er... at any rate TARGET ACQUIRED Name: Emma Frost A.K.A. the White Queen. This Emma Frost drawing not by me, I've been having trouble identifying the artist, any thoughts would be appreciated.

Wonder Woman 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 her costume and the promotion of DC Comics

Emma Frost, the White Queen, the Black Queen, 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, June 17, 2009

Wonder Woman--a retrospective...

I figured it best to start with the costume of Diana, known throughout Patriarch's World as the super heroine Wonder Woman. Having been in publication more or less continuously since her creation in 1941, her costume has changed little over the years with two notable exceptions. During her Diana Prince: Wonder Woman era, while depowered she wore variants of the white outfit on the far left, perhaps Diana's most fashion conscious, if painful period considering she ran a Mod Dress Shop when she wasn't fighting the likes of Dr. Cyber with her new mentor, the i-Ching (that's a whole other post). The other notable instant was when she lost the mantle of Wonder Woman to Artemis and then she wore the dark biker shorts/leather bra star motif with a pale blue bolero--must have been Black Canary's influence. The rest of the time she has stuck pretty close to her star spangled bathing suit. Here's the thing though, its not a bathing suit--it's meant to be armour. Depending on the armour's origins its either pieced together from the remnants of an American soldier or, as dictated by some Amazonian customs the colours of the nation one visits as emissary.
Most of the time however artists and writers forget that star spangled outfit is meant to offer some scant protection. And we get some real atrocities. Every now and again though artists remember she's an amazon warrior and out comes the armour. The most famous is probably the eagle armour designed by Alex Ross in the Kingdom Come mini-series. Faithfully reproduced here by Aaron Lopresti. The detail Ross paid to the authenticity, if somewhat stylized version of her hoplite armour certainly conveyed the sense of a powerful female warrior. Sometimes I think that's why she often gets the cheescake image--some men are truly frightened by powerful women. Still in my opinion the "screaming eagle" armour as it's been called definitely deserves an honourable mention for combining elements of her Amazonian heritage with her traditional colour themes. My other honourable mention goes to Brian Bolland for Diana's space pirate look. It's black and most importantly she gets to wear pants, something Wonder Woman rarely gets to do. The outfit is fairly basic and honours the mantle of Diana Trevor while drawing attention to her more rebellious status as an outlaw bent on breaking the established regime and freeing the thousands of female slaves held captive by the corrupt regime. I find myself often alone when I argue that Diana should get pants--it's hard to fight against the iconic status of the bathing suit Lynda Carter wore, but I will say this, often it's the Supergirls or Ms Marvels who wear shorts or skirts but the Invisible Woman, Hawkwoman they got pants. Shouldn't Wonder Woman trade in her shorts for something a little more sensible? At the very least I'd feel a little too exposed with my butt cheeks hanging out. Still Donfeld did a great job bringing the costume to life and Lynda Carter iconized it, and that's why it takes the number three place in Diana's closet and was definitely something she should wear. Interestingly enough actor/singer Roy Rodgers refused to appear in an early episode of Wonder Woman unless Ms Carter's outfit was modified. In that instance she was given fitted cream pants and a red drawstring blouse, but provided her own tiara, bracelets, belt, lasso and boots. This costume change was explained by Roy Rodgers' character's maid loaning Diana some of her clothes, despite the fact that the maid was a foot or two shorter and broader than Ms. Carter. Realizing that they couldn't trademark an eagle as easily as a logo Wonder Woman's logo changed and became a stylized WW logo that I was never overly fond of. Having read and watched Wonder Woman since the late 70s/early 90s I was sad to see the eagle go. And then Alex Ross brought it back in Kingdom Come, and we come to outfit number two in Diana's closet. Admittedly he only emphasized the eagle aspect of the WW logo but there it was. He also changed the shorts to a loincloth, possibly alluding to her earliest outfit which had a skirt. I like to think Ross was noting that since Diana hadn't aged she'd altered her costume to be more revealing to demonstrate her unchanging beauty--particularly since Donna Troy looked a little older and heavier, but that's not really in character or implied in the graphic novel (which if you have never read Kingdom Come get up right now and go and buy it and read it immediately--you won't be sorry). It also helps that Alex Ross is an unbelievably talented artist who knew how to handle his subject, powerful yet soft, terrifying yet beautiful. However I think the number one outfit Diana has worn would have to be the armour Drew Johnson designed when Diana fought the Medousa. Keeping her colours and the basic look of her costume he reinvented it as hoplite armour, once again drawing attention to her Amazonian and Greek roots. I think the bathing suit will never go away because its so iconic, but every now and again as I look at my collection of Wonder Woman memorabilia I see her costume as a costume and not Wonder Woman's clothes and for just a moment I'm a little scared of myself. That's why when Diana opens her closet I think the first thing she should see is this suit of armour, then she can move on the rack of spandex if she must. Now--what shouldn't Diana wear? As the beauty of Aphrodite is one of Diana's gods-given powers there is very little she won't look good in. However, just because you can wear something doesn't mean you should, and Mike Deodato Jr. helped Diana descend to lower levels of cheesecake than she ever had before. Warrior Woman Rule #1 "Do not fight in anything that requires you to have a brazilian wax before going into battle." This is not only dangerous as more of your body is exposed but also tacky and somewhat cheap. But Deodato was not done there, he introduced the Wonder Thong, a proud tradition that has been carried on by other artists including Ed Benes (the man responsible for Supergirl's skirt becoming a spandex belt) and occasionally Adam Hughes. Warrior Woman Rule #2 "No thongs." Simple and rather obvious both because again more of you is exposed and its an invitation to every super speedster and super villian out there to come on over and give you a spanking. Then you'll be fighting the rest of the battle with red cheeks, which even if your teammates won't say anything for fear you'll punch them through a wall, they've all still pretty much seen your ass. All of this goes triple for dresses, even if they're thong dresses. Imaging trying to fight with all that fabric wedged between your cheeks. How could anyone win a contest dressed like that? There are several heroines who are drawn wearing thongs and I really want to ask many of the artists in question if they've ever worn a thong and even done something simple, like playing volleyball or football. I'm not asking them to wrestle a cheetah or anything, but I think it might give them some good insight as to why the thong is ridiculous as part of a heroine's costume. I invite you to take a look at a couple of other ladies who've worn the mantle of Wonder Woman and let me know what you think of their fashion choices and if breaking any of the rules I've outlined above really helped them.
John Byrne

John Byrne

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Wonder Woman, Artemis, Hippolyta 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

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