Roundtable - Costumes


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 Greetings all, I have gathered my regulars for another discussion, this time about comic book costumes.  Generally speaking it is hard to get a bunch of men to talk about spandex, but it was surprisingly easy here.  So without further ado, here are our contributors – Matkrenz (Mat) the man so cool that he doesn’t need a costume, The Thunderer (TT) who refuses to put down that hammer, White Mage (MG) whose white costume is made out of magic or something like that, Illuminatus (I) who likes hoods so much more than capes, and Delphic (D) who would wrestle Superman to the ground just to get that S off of his chest.  Say hello everyone.

Mat: Hi everybody I’m MatKrenz but I guess you can call me Mat for short.

TT:  Hey The_Thunderer here, but you can call me Thunder for short.

WM:  Hello all! My name is White Mage..."Mage" is fine though.

D: From a distant realm unbeknownst to all mankind, and taking residence at your local payphone, I am the one and only Delphic! Soon you will all know my name Mwahahahaha! Sorry, I just have to make a flashy entrance. It's a pleasure to meet you all. *Gives a bow*

I: Greetings. I'm Illuminatus, but you may address me as 'Lumey' for short.  

Well Delphic wins for most over-the-top entrance.  What have you all been reading recently?

Mat: Preacher, Transmetropolitan, Astro City, Angel & Faith, X - Factor, Revival, Venom, Uncanny X-Force and the Witcher novels.

TT:  Mighty Thor #1, Siege and Fear Itself.

WM: AVX EVERYTHING, X-Men (Brian Wood), Wolverine and the X-Men, Fantastic Four, X-Factor

D:  Oh gosh, that's actually a tough question due to the time constraints. Pretty much I am reading almost the entire DC Comics line up right now, with a few exceptions, some Marvel, and some Indy titles. I sometimes wonder just how I am able to read it all, truth is I don't. Haha. Just to name a few though: Superman, Wonder Woman, Red Hood, Amazing Spider-man, Ultimate Spider-man, Batman (of course), Scarlet Spider, Avengers versus X-men, Mass Effect Homeworlds, and Fatale. That is only a fraction of what I have been bringing home every month. Currently I have around sixty comics that I'm bringing home every month. I hope to soon cut back on that amount....Am I rambling??? Oh sorry, haha!

I:  Comics-Not much. Finished the third   Invincible  trade the other day, and I've been reading some of the New 52 TPB's. I've been reading novels much more fervently as of late. 

What is your favourite superhero costume and what makes it so memorable for you?

Mat: My favorite superhero costume has to be Jamie Madrox costume. It has that multiple strand of DNA that reflects his mutant power well and whatever character that wears a trench coat is cool in my book. It's just a good costume for a private investigator.

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TT:  My favourite costume at the moment is Thor's costume, despite not being a fan of the swords I do like the look of his new armour. Despite losing his cape which I loved, it makes him seem more serious and more like a War God. His new helmet is also totally bad@55. 

 WM:  DOCTOR....VOODOO...Here's the deal, I'm into that "Creepy, Bizarro" look, and he is IT for me...And it captures his identity/personality flawlessly...

D:  The most iconic costume to me will forever and always will be the Superman costume. I grew up watching television shows such as Lois and Clark, and the old 1940 Max Fleischer Superman cartoon shorts. I always remember the "This looks like a job for Superman.", the old Superman anthem starts playing (dat-ta-da-de-da-do-de-do-do-da), and then seeing the big blue boy scout with the S on his chest pops out of a phone booth and flies off to save the day. I still to this day don't know what it is, but there was always something about the S. For me seeing Clark Kent, the shy and bumbling news reporter, just changes clothes and dons the S shield, and all of a sudden you have the Man of Steel. Everyone loved and looked up to him, bullets and knives could not harm him, and if he wanted to all he had to do was fly faster than the speed of light from west to east around the globe and he could turn back time. When you think about it it's truly amazing. Seeing superman as a child gave me, and probably several others, hope as a child that we could be so much more than what I appeared to be. His newest costume, though it had to grow on me (rest in peace red undershorts), doesn't loose the feel that the old had. It's amazing to think that something so simplistic in design: blue tights, red boots and cape, and a bright yellow shield on its chest with a big red S on it could have entire crowds cheering, or the most vile of villains quaking in fear. So yeah, Superman's costume is definitely the most iconic costume of all least to me.

I:  Currently, I'd say my favorite costume would be Kaine's from Yost's   Scarlet Spider  series. Of course, the fantastic art of the series adds to the insane badassery of the costume, but even then, it evokes fear and awe in a person. Imagine seeing someone, doing the things Kaine does, while wearing a costume such as that. You'd be compelled to think two things: where can I get one of those, and please don't beat me to a pulp.

WM:  Wow Thunderer ..........I've never been happier to see a cape stripped off of an outfit before. His "Ultimates" look was my favorite for him, so to see that get mixed up with his 616 outfit is just.......Right now, it's intimidating.....but, with a different artist, his "Hot" factor will Chris Hemsworth....and I LOVE the swords

TT:  What did you think of the waist cloak thing?

WM:  I like it. Because he's "Thor", he already has a regal/royal air about him. So for that outfit/waist cloak to pull out another feeling of "Warrior Barbarian King"..............It compliments him very nicely actually. 

 My favourite costume is Wonder Woman, but why did everyone already know I was going to say that?  As it seems to me, a lot of the costumes which we see in the modern day are a lot edgier than ones from the past. Maybe I am right or maybe not, but to put that in a different way, do you think a costume like Superman's would be popular in the modern day if it was not so much attached to comic book and their related icons? 

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WM:  I think it would all depend on the takes effort to make those briefs look "edgy". Superman is the fierce model who must carry the costume, and he wears it with pride, thus, we don't pay attention to just"meh" it is. His body makes, what would inevitably be dubbed "Birthday Pajamas", look like "Whoa!"'s strange that he and Wonder Woman are so redundant in appearance, When even Batman and Robin get costume changes periodically. 

 Mat:  I wouldn't say the costumes are edgier today but more practical and simple. Like in The Incredibles movie when Edna yells "NO CAPES" because those many deaths, so let's say Superman was created today I think the majority of his costume would still be there but without the cape because that would only get in the way.

WM:  This is the first time in a very long time that I've heard of the "no capes" thing.........and see, it's not exactly that I think you're wrong, it's just that when I look at characters like Sentry, Black Panther, Magneto, (98% of the time) and Thor, the cape tends to add to the look, rather than detract.....I think the biggest change we would see would be the briefs.

TT:  Yeah briefs aren't cool. Also maybe less morality.

Mat:  Well im looking at it from the point of view that these days an audience kind of expect any genre movie or tv series to have some sort of realistic bent to it and seeing a person flying around in his briefs and a cape that can get in the way is realistic. There are of course exceptions to this but I have a feeling we are going to see more of this in the future.

WM:  Makes sense.  Well, so far, costumes are looking pretty good for the men of comics

TT:  I reckon that Hancock's costume is a good template of what new superheroes would look and act like.

WM:  I..........REALLY hope that Hancock isn't the new direction of superhero isn't that I find his outfit bad...I actually liked it....It's just that that's a little TOO modern IMO. I feel there still needs to be a level of "Who would wear that?" Mixed in with the "I wish I could wear that!"....I HATED the X-Men costumes in the first 3 movies.


D:   That's a very good question. It's hard to say though, because a costume is almost always directly tied with it's related icons popularity. For example: Harley Quinn. So many people love her classic costume, yet personally I think it's one of the dumbest thing ever conceived of in comics. Anytime, a costume is identified as a classic costume it becomes a part of that character, and it becomes part of their identity. Any other costumes after that are normally variations based off of that classic, so the classic evolves over time. It's those variations of the classic that is either popular or unpopular. So to sort of answer the question: No I do not believe the costumes we see today would be popular if they weren't as attached to their respective comic books and characters, because if the costumes we see today were not attached to their respective characters, then they could not be the classic look or any variation of the classic look. I really hope that makes sense to all of you, because it sure doesn't to me.   *laughs*  Oh well at least I tried to give an intelligent answer. 

 I:  Well, Superman's previous costume is maligned and viewed with cynicism because we've been so conditioned to it and the costumes it inspired. Eventually, people will demand a change; a refresher, if you will.  If nothing like that costume had been introduced prior to his costume hypothetically appearing today, I'm sure there would be plenty of people intrigued by the idea of it.  We look back on Golden Age costumes with a cynical outlook, but what comic fans (as well as the general public) should remember is that those costumes came about in a time period when comic books weren't taken seriously in the least. They were a creative and recreational outlet. Nothing more. They still are those very things today, but they represent so much more, and the medium has changed drastically since then. Costumes tend to reflect the time period in which they're imagined. That's why the current Superman costume (as well as his entire character) has been redesigned to fit the demands of the audiences. They want edgy, hard-hitting, refreshing characters. Unfortunately, DC seems unwilling to create a new character, so they've compromised and incorporated those elements into their already existing characters.

In the light of characters being associated with iconic images, how do you think this applies to female characters? For instance Wonder Woman's costume by itself is pretty small, but of course serves to show off her cleavage. So are the legs and cleavage part of the costumes themselves for those characters or just leftover body parts?

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I:  Legs, cleavage, and butts have definitely become a staple of female characters.  Take Psylocke for example. Her costume serves no other purpose than to capitalize on her status as a well-endowed woman. The same can be applied to Ms. Marvel, Wonder Woman, Spider-Woman, Black Canary, Power Girl, Supergirl, and so on.  Heroines in comic books are wildly sexy. That's just an irreversible fact about the medium that we're going too have to accept at some point. Their cleavage, legs, butts, and amazing hair are part of the image they project, just as much as the costumes are. 

 WM:  Women have the power of sex appeal in addition to superpowers of a genetic/mystical nature. Thighs and cleavage are very necessary when it comes to female comic book superhero outfits, because they have to wear the stuff that real life women can't......messed up as that may sound.

I should maybe rephrase my question, is the cleavage itself a part of the costume? Or just the leftover part of the body which is not covered. Or to put it another way, are Wonder Woman's breasts just as symbolic as Superman's S?

I:  Oh, they're certainly just as symbolic as Superman's 'S'.  Again, readers have been so conditioned to certain tropes, that an immense majority would undoubtedly show outrage if Wonder Woman started showing up in comics as someone who isn't indescribably sexy, with large breasts to be specific. 

D:  I agree with both Illuminatus and White Mage, about the uncovered parts of the female body on Characters such as Wonder Woman or Power Girl are only there for one thing: Sex appeal. So in saying that, I would say that they are simply uncovered body parts, and have nothing to do with the symbolic nature of the costume.

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WM:  For Powergirl, yes, the cleavage is "iconic" with the rest of the outfit. For the rest of the girls, I think their outfits just happen to be missing fabric in those areas. I don't think their breasts are what make the outfit memorable/iconic. When I think of Wonder Woman, I don't think "THOSE BREASTS!". I think of that red, white, and blue one-piece bathing suit. 

 Mat: For a character like Power Girl and Monet (up until issue #230) there were apart of the costume because jokes and comments were often made of that fact. For a character like Wonder Woman it's just leftover body parts. 

 D: Now in the case of Power Girl, I agree with you to an extent that her breasts ended up becoming part of the costume. Though really, it was meant to be the hole that was symbolic. The hole was meant to represent a Kryptonian character breaking away the shadow of the "S".

Let's switch one of the previous questions around a bit, is there any classic costume from costumes which you really don't like? 

Mat:  Jay Garrick's original costume. For one thing it really looks like something he threw on in about 5 minutes and I never understood how his mercury helmet stayed on his head without it falling out.

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D: For me there are actually quite a few classic costumes that I don't like: pretty much the majority of the golden age sidekicks. Looking over it, and putting a great deal of thought to it though I would have to say Aqualad's (Garth's) original costume. It was the tackiest thing I have ever seen, as the majority of Atlantean costumes are. It was a very bad mesh of bright red and blue, and honestly looked like a young girl's one piece in some artwork, but don't worry it gets worse folks. You should have seen him in his teenage years...ugh.  Next to him I have to say Vartox, who was a very obscure character, and I'm honestly glad he remained so. I get the shudders everytime I see that speedo, thigh high boots, and super hair chest with a handlebar mustache... *Shudders* 

 WM:  I can't think of any classic costumes that I really hated at the moment......I'm sure there's one lurking around in my subconscious somewhere...

So Mat raises a good point in reference to Jay Garrick, and that being those costumes that seem just too ridiculous to function.  On the other hand there has been a move to making costumes a lot more functional recently.  Take for instance Black Canary, with a mix of the old and new.  Do the more realistic costumes allow you to associate better with the comics?  Or does it lose some of the aspect of fantasy? 

D: Sure I think it does help to associate better with what your seeing in the comics. Maybe not in a "I can relate" sense, but definitely in the logical realization that Kevlar armor has better protection qualities than spandex. The costume though will have little to do with any sense of fantasy lost or gained. That I believe is the sole responsibility of the writers.

TT:  Functionality of a costume is irrelevant for me, I'd rather they looked good andd had impractical gear, rather than just wearing all kevlar armour for example. Comics for me are fantastical, like Thor, so I really don't care how unrealistic they are, and the same applies for their costumes.


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I don't mind if a costume is ridiculous if there isn't anything outright stupid, head scratching and impractical like Huntress'es costume pre New 52. I mean I read superhero comics because I like the fantasy of it all and if they change im not gonna have a problem unless it's somehow worst than the previous design or the original was bad. 

 D:  You know I think I was the only one that actually liked Huntress belly window costume. Though it was impractical, I didn't think it was hideous. As a matter of fact she was wearing that costume when I first started reading about that character, and honestly that's the costume I associate with her.

WM:  .............I tend to prefer the impracticality of outfits over the "reasonable" looks.  When Storm entered the scene, wearing that Simone Bianchi outfit, I screamed "YESSS!!" because of just how bizarre it looked...And she wore it very nicely.  Meanwhile, I struggled INTENSELY with the movie versions of the X-Men's outfits, because I felt like they were a little too "real" and "practical"...I say this because I saw some kind of art that showed them looking a lot like their movie counterparts, and it just didn't do anything for me  I don't relate to my characters based on their outfits.....That part can be as ridiculous/flashy as they want it to be........I like it when they keep me guessing.

Mat: Well the costumes had to be realistic and practical in the first X-Men movie since the superhero genre had to comeback from the horrible film that was Batman & Robin with the infamous "bat-nipples" and "bat-ass".

D:  Oh Gosh, I remember that. Every time I think I've forgotten someone always seems to remind me. Thanks Matt!

WM:  LMAO See, I get that. Trust me, I do. But, what I'm really trying to say is that, to me, there is a major danger in making costumes a little too.....accessible, and less, "Fantasy"......I feel that extravagant costumes (even the goofier ones) allow artists to really be able to flaunt their stuff, and show us what they are capable of in terms of "change" and "shock value".  I understand the occasional character having a "realistic" look to their outfit. But, let's not make that look too popular.

How do costumes like Iron Man and Batman which are both fashionable and functional fit into that equation.  Are they too fantastical or too practical or just right?

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WM:  I like Iron Man's look. His colors are fun....I'm over War Machine, but Tony at least gives me Mike and Ikes flavor.  Batman.........he's one of the superheroes that NEEDS a more "updated" look. He's dark, he's gritty, and he's supposed to be a bit scarier than most heroes (so I'm I'm fine with his outfit being modernized in every way, however, I need for his criminals to maintain their "flashiness".  Iron Man pulls off the "Fantasy" look a lot more, in part because he is a.....machine.  Batman's look makes sense....because of the "Detective" background, and the darker elements of his world.  I think they both fit "just right". 

 Mat:  Seeing as how a character like Batman can be used in pretty much every single scenario for a story possible his costume has to be changed constantly or at least variations have to be made. I mean look up his toys from the 90's and tell me how many of them make any sense what so ever. And for Iron Man he is technically the most realistic out of everybody since Tony Stark is an inventor and at the end or beginning of any big run of a creator they introduce their own special armor that will define their run (like Warren Ellis introducing Extremis and Fraction introducing the Bleeding Edge), always updating, always staying in front of everyone.

D:  I've always been partial to armored heroes. Personally because I think armor is cool, but ultimately I agree with   White Mage  in that both seem to fit "just right".

If you could see one costume in real life, assuming that is possible, which would you choose?

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Mat:  Spider Jerusalem, the clothes are simple enough but if somebody has enough commitment to paint all his tattoos on their body at the exact spots I will be impressed.D:  Superman's costume might be my favorite, but despite that there's not much to it that can't be seen with a passing glance. Now what I would want to see an actual working version of the Iron Man armor As a matter of fact if I did see it I would probably try and steal it. Hahaha.

TT:  I don't think you would be alone there Delphic. haha. I have often thought should a superhero arrive on Earth I doubt he/she would get the reception they expected. (unless they expect constant attacks from gangs, media following them everywhere, no secret identity and no safety).

WM:  I wouldn't mind seeing Iron Man's armor in real life.....I feel like it would be quite a sight with the details, and "glowey"

I asked four guys which costume they would like to see in real life and not one of them said Emma Frost or Wonder Woman, and instead you would want to see a bunch of male characters?  Truly you are all serious fans.  Anyway on that note it is time to say goodbye and let others read our words. 

WM: Good night you princes of Latveria. You kings of Wakanda....You queens of France.

D:  What you say is true Razz. Not one of us called out Wonder Woman or Emma Frost. Perhaps they should be taking fashion tips from the likes of Tony Stark if they wish to be seen more.  Anyway, It was a pleasure everyone, I hope to get to do this again sometime. For now I must travel across the universe to attend an auction where I will be casting bids on Scott Summers sanity. That will look fabulous among my collection. haha. So for now ladies and gents this is ta-ta, cheerio, bye-bye!   *swishes his cape then disappears in a puff of smoke*

Mat:  Goodbye everypony and I hope you enjoyed this Roundtable Discussion. Im off to the land of swears, smokes, drugged up journalists, conman magicians, fairy tale's in our world, priest's on epic quests to find God and the last man on earth that is the library of stories from Vertigo.

I:  I hope everyone enjoyed the discussion. I apologize for not being a more engaging part of the discussion. 

TT:  Bye bye.

This is the end of the discussion about costumes for us, but it can be just the beginning for everyone else.  So let us know your favourites and least favourites and whether heroes should update their looks or stay as they are.