This subject is, of course, a hot topic. Over the past few years, as more and more females become interested in the hobby of reading comics (or become comfortable expressing it), there has been a cry for equality. Equally good writing for female-centered books and just simply equal respect. It was bad enough in the eighties and nineties when super women were drawn provocatively and nearly naked because publishers were blatantly supplying fap material to nerdy teenage boys, essentially themselves at that awkward, often isolated age. Hey, I’m not excusing it. I’m just not b.s.ing myself into thinking that wasn’t the case. But then there was this thing called the internet and everyone everywhere could find all the free porn (starring actual human beings) they could… well, *ahem* anyway.
But in recent years, probably due to a number of reasons, more and more females are joining the comic book fan-base, while the major publishing companies have stumbled to adjust to this “new” audience and what it wants out of comics. (It’s not fap material.) And one of the issues we’re now facing is that a generation of young boys grew up seeing female super heroes drawn provocatively, in seductive (often anatomically impossible) poses, dressed in little more than lingerie. Now those boys are making the comics they grew up reading and are simply following the formula for what they know and are used to, which unfortunately isn’t endearing them to their new fan-base.
Okay long intro aside, Celeste Pille was commissioned by Buzz Feed to redesign some iconic female super hero costumes to eliminate the impracticality of most designs. Let’s face it, one really wouldn’t charge into battle in high heels and a thong.
Here are just a couple, which I shall critique.
First thing I wonder, is if Pille is an actual comic reader or if she was given reference material, because this image of Black Canary is out-of-date. As for Pille’s look, the jacket on this is unique and the wing motif adds more “canary” to her look than ever. Honestly, while somewhat iconic, Canary’s suit has always been incredibly basic. If you didn’t know who she was and looked at her, you’d never be able to guess her name. The fishnet on her top is a nice homage. And the hair in a ponytail makes more sense than loose flowing locks, but that is a conceit as most people tend to admire long flowing locks, even women, which explains every commercial for every haircare product ever and Beyonce’s career. From the waist down, I’m not a fan. The boots don’t look any more practical than the ones on the statue and I loathe super heroes in jeans. Also she eliminated the gloves, which is going in the opposite direction.
Going back to the dated source material, Black Canary currently wears this costume:
I think this is much more sleek and super heroic. There’s still the homage to her classic fishnets, but now you can see they are like a print on her solid tights. She’s completely covered from the neck down, but still looks like a super hero and not some chick at a biker bar. I’d take Pille’s jacket and throw it over this and pull her hair back into a ponytail and think we’d have the perfect look.
Now this one, I don’t like at all. I realize she was working with the color palette she was given, but the shirt is just too much. I DO think it’s a good idea to provide more coverage, but I’d maybe have added some black to tone it down. And what’s really bewildering is that she converted Hawkgirl’s helmet into a mask. A helmet is surely more practical and provides for defense than a mask, which now leaves the back of her head exposed. And the simplified boots remove the talons on her feet, taking away one of her offensive weapons. This leads me back to wondering if the designer actually reads comics. Maybe she didn’t realize those were talons. And once again, this is an out-of-date costume, as Hawkgirl has already been redesigned by Nicola Scott in the series ‘Earth 2.’
Sigh. Another out-of-date reference photo. The redesigned boots actually look like the ones Power Girl wore closer to the end of her last series. I won’t argue that slightly lengthening her shorts might be a good move, but Pille’s design makes them slightly longer than I’d go. Think of the short shorts lady tennis players wear and you’ll get what I’m imagining.
Here’s the thing. Power Girl is the exception to the rule. She’s lady Superman, so her costume doesn’t actually need to be practical. She can have a cape, because if someone yanks it, it won’t budge, or if whoever is yanking is strong enough, it’ll just tear off. She can have a boob window, because it’s cheeky and cute. The rules just kinda don’t apply to her.
Another out-of-date costume reference… wait, have they all been?! Hmmm… all but Power Girl’s, but even her suit is slightly modified now. Anyway, Scarlet Witch’s current costume isn’t much different from Pille’s design, actually. Digging the boots! I don’t love the peplum on her jacket. Or is that a waist skirt? The current Scarlet Witch costume in the comics also has her sporting a jacket like this, but one that flows smoothly down to the knees. I think if you combined the two looks, it would be fantastic.
I understand the idea behind putting her hair up, but with a magic user like Scarlet Witch, it’s not called for as she’s never in the thick of battle. She’s usually off to the side pointing and gesturing, so I don’t think letting her hair down would really be a problem.
I don’t get this one at all. She lengthens her leotard to her knees but then makes her barefoot!
*Sigh!* Another dated reference image. This is actually what She-Hulk wears in the comics now:
The top is actually quite similar to Pille’s, but arguably even more practical as it covers her neck. Plus pants! Again, I get it with putting your hair up. But I’d go with a ponytail over that frumpy bun. In this case, I’m going with the comic version all the way. Sadly, the artist’s redesign looks like a butch, eastern European lady wrestler.
I think I’ve come to the conclusion that no one will ever like any Wonder Woman costume ever. I don’t care who designs it, people will find a reason to hate it. Pille’s top is fine. I’ve been saying for years that Wonder Woman’s bodice needed straps. But replacing her classic WW-logo or some variation of it with that plain, nondescript W is inexcusable. The leggings with dark stars are fine. For the record, the reason everyone hated Jim Lee’s WW design (for the ‘Odyssey’ storyline) wasn’t because of the pants. It was all that extra crap he threw on her, the arm straps, the 90s jacket, the 90s choker, the lack of proper boots. I’m okay with a pant or legging as long as there’s attempt to emulate her classic costume and I think these do that well enough. The plain red boots could be spruced up, but I’ll take them over the navy boots she wears now. Once again, I’d prefer a simple pony tail.
So the struggle continues to find a balance between practicality and visual appeal in a fantasy setting. It is fantasy after all. There’s a certain degree of impracticality I think we can all live with. But female super heroes need to look like heroes and not porn stars. But I’d also prefer they not look like butch lesbians in street clothes. Happy medium, folks. Happy medium.
Definitely check out the rest of Pille’s designs over at Buzz Feed, where you also get a bit of commentary.
So what do you think? Do you like the redesigns? What would you change about either those or the originals? Comment below!
THIS is actually She-Hulk’s current costume. She recently rejoined the FF (Fantastic Four/Future Foundation). But even so, she’s covered from the neck down, but her powerful arms are still uninhibited allowing for freedom of movement. It’s practical, but still let’s her natural sex appeal shine through. I don’t mean that in an objectifying way. She-Hulk is one randy kitten! She’s bagged more Marvel hunks that I did in my adolescent fantasies!