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".