Note: The following entries are the winners and finalists from our Canary on the Catwalk Black Canary redesign contest. Thanks to everyone who entered! Our guest reviewer for this contest is Green Arrow/Black Canary artist Mike Norton! Congrats to the winners and runners up! Check back next week for the honorable mentions and late entries! – Dean Trippe
First Place Winner: Jemma Salume!
Dean: 9.5. Okay this is what I’m talking about. Yes. Innovation and identity retention. The wingshapes, floating heels, and facepaint are all super super rad. Love the color scheme and hair, too. This one’s all win. Blue fingernails: yes.
Tim: 9.5 This one feels like the past and future colliding, and I love it. I’m not completely sold on the (spring-loaded?) heels, but the hair and makeup look just right, and the sleek cape design and gloves really sell it to me. Jemma’s damn good at this costume design business.
Jess: 9. I love the hair, the makeup, and the bodysuit (although why can’t this poor woman ever score some pants?), but the heels, while cool-looking, are giving me pause. They look hard to walk in, let alone fight crime. Everything else is golden, though, especially if the cape can be detached as necessary.
Joel: 9. I was thrown by the heels at first, too. But, apparently these things really exist, it’s just they normally look much more gimmicky than Jemma’s hyper-elegant example. They would probably be every bit as difficult to run and fight in as high heels, but Black Canary’s been doing that since the 40’s. Really, nothing about this costume is practical in any way, which is normally a big problem for me, but superheroes get exemptions for drama when the design is good enough (see Batman’s cape), and danged if this design isn’t good enough. Seriously, Marc Jacobs or somebody needs to rip off those boot designs. And the fresh new silhouette of this costume would be really eye-catching in giant JLA punch’em-ups.
Rachel: 9. Jemma brings it again! Stylish, practical (shoes excepted), and totally character-appropriate. This is the first time I’ve looked at a bodysuit and thought “badass,” and I love, love, love the sleeveless cape. The only thing between this and a perfect ten are the shoes: those heels might actually exist, they seem like a stunningly impractical choice for motorcycling, even worse than stilettoes.
Vito: 10. I have a few, pardon the pun, “pitch” perfect redesigns in this contest, and this is one of them. DC could implement this tomorrow and it wouldn’t surprise me because this is a winner. I even like the blue lines under her eyes in lieu of a mask.
Jon: 8. I love so much of this, but I wish there weren’t wings on the boots. I love ’em on the gloves – they make the same sort of sense as Batman’s glove spikes, if you can imagine them being used in a fight – but they seem a little frivolous on the boots. Great jacket/cape design which looks like it’ll keep out of her way when she fights and moves, and the blue makeup is a nice “street warrior” touch. Jemma’s designs are always great, no exception here.
Jessi: 10. I absolutely love it. This is just so bar room brawl tough. I can see a throwback to Amanda Conner’s design in the bodysuit and I adore the bird-like ankle raising heels; very Antonio Berardi. I love the elements that still make this a feminine costume; the cape, wing detail to the gloves and boots especially. I love the warrior like face paint. Dang great costume.
Chris: 9. Wow wow wow. Best one yet. The winged cape-jacket is pure inspiration. The only thing I’d ask for is some more thought put into the legs.
Khouri: 8. Super creative design with so much tying into Black Canary’s superhero idiom. I love Jemma’s work here but I don’t think this is something Dinah would actually wear — too fussy. But there’s a lot to admire in this piece.
Mike N.: 8.5. This is probably my second-favorite design. Love the simple, yet detailed look. It’s modern as well and actually says “Black Canary” more than her current costume even. Good job.
Second Place Winner: Mat Major!
Dean: 10. Everything’s right here. Great armor, identity firmly in place thanks to the emblems and color scheme, the skirt shape recalls feathers, and hoodies and masks are always cool. This look is tailor made for a Black Canary Year One with Dinah or a new incarnation. Love. It. To. Bits.
Tim: 9.5. Wow. Mat has done a great job here. This is a practical — well, as practical as you want Black Canary to be — and super-cool looking costume. Love the hood, love the repeated use of the redesigned emblem. Love it.
Jess: 7.5. This strikes me as a little dark for Dinah, who tends to be a fun-lovin’ gal. For a Year One, though, awesome. I’m especially digging the hood.
Joel: 9.5. Dark, but Zorro-dark, which is the very best kind. So many nice elements here: the ass-kicking boots, the “feathered” hemline, the armored chest plate with it’s sweet and subtle insignia, the yellow lining, and it even manages to work in the fishnets and make them look semi-reasonable. The only part I don’t buy are the knee pads, which look like they must be stuck on with spirit gum.
Dean: 10. Again. Wait, I think I only get to vote the one time. Damn.
Vito: 10. Dean, I’d give this a 30 if I could. I can’t say anything that hasn’t been already said. This is perfect. I know I gave out three 10’s in this contest, but that’s because all three had something in common; something that evoked what Black Canary means to me. Now, that could be the logo (in McNally’s piece) or motif (as it was in Jemma’s), but here, Mat gets both. I can’t go lower on the other’s…they are as good as perfect; but I wish I could go higher here.
Jon: 5. I feel very out of step here. This evokes Spoiler and Spoiler’s Batgirl costumes, to me. It seems way too young for the character, and while I like the emblem as a design, it’s placed so awkwardly – on the boots in particular. For a martial artist, she’s bulked up like a SWAT officer, those boots are enormous, and while I admit that the hood looks neat, what is it there for, exactly? She’s already wearing a mask so it’s not an aid for her secret identity, she’s got her insignia on her costume three times so it’s not like she’s disguising her superhero identity, and she doesn’t have a cape or wings or anything so it doesn’t help obfuscate her shape in silhouette. My biggest problem is that it looks like it could be any relatively bird-themed character’s costume (providing it’s a female incarnation, of cuss) – remove the canary emblem and put an “R” on it, it’s Robin. Get a sharp blue shape, it’s Nightwing. Heck, put a bat on it, Batgirl, it even works with Hawk or Dove. I hate to be this critical, but while I think it’s a well-designed superhero costume which would fly for any number of characters, I don’t think it’s very specifically a Black Canary costume …
Dean: I’d say the color scheme and fishnets make it solidly Black Canary.
Jon: Well, I don’t necessarily want to argue about it, but Black Canary’s color scheme is typically black, spot yellows and predominantly blue, the latter of which this costume doesn’t have … And I think it’s okay to not adhere to the traditional color scheme, but I don’t think it’s strongly enough a specific BC costume to do without it, as it stands.
Dean: I’ll see you after school. By the bleachers. Bring. Your. Brushpens.
Rachel: 8. Way too young for the actual Black Canary, but as a design for a younger version, awesome. Love the boots, love the swallowtail coat. Is it just me, or do a lot of these designs seem to skew really young? What’s up with that?
Jessi: 6. I see this costume more of a younger lady Blackhawk than a Black Canary. I am not a fan of the mask though! The reinforced gloves are awesome.
Chris: 7. Despite my agreement with Jon that this illustration skews her way too young, there are alot of positive elements to be had. The winged skirt is amazing — and this idea of a wing flowing thing seems to be popping up with several of our entrants.
Khouri: 9. Excellent. Mat’s design is the most effective combination of sexy and superheroic of the lot, and I wouldn’t be disappointed to see Dinah adopt an outfit like this in the comic books. This piece touches on all the major Black Canary points: blackness, fishnets, yellow accents, bird motif, bad-assery. The only thing I don’t like is the mask, I think she’d look a lot hotter without it. Maybe goggles? I also love the hood innovation.
Mike N.: 9.5. Love it. Perfectly captures the martial arts, motorcycle driver, canary aesthetic in an attractive package.
Third Place Winner: Carly Monardo!
Dean: 8.5. Action awesome. I dig the power-walking, Kill Bill, city-hero vibe. The torn tights look tough here, like battle-damaged He-Man. I could see this base working with a variety of accessories, always maintaining identity and hero vibe. Black lipstick for bonus points.
Tim: 8. I like the sans-jacket look a lot, and this Black Canary looks like the kind of gal who could definitely take charge of a super-team, in a cool alternate universe where the JLA wasn’t ever boring.
Jess: 8.5. This is clearly Lady Gaga as a superhero. Awesome. (Actually, Dean, can we make that the next contest?!) I’d like to see the jacket incorporate more of the elements of the rest of the costume, but it’s both cheerful and tough, totally in character for Dinah, and she doesn’t look like she’s going to fall out of it. Nice.
Jon: 8. Superb. Looks like a soccer-mom superhero, which – at this point in her history – is about the right age for the character. Beautiful attitude in the pose, and in the glasses and jacket – I wasn’t sold on the torn tights, but then again, the character got her starts in fishnet stockings, so … Terrific movement, excellent use of the strong yellow, although I think it works a lot better with the jacket on. Great boots.
Joel: 7. I agree with Jess that I’d like to see some more integration between jacket and bodysuit, and I think the bodysuit itself could stand to be broken up a bit—maybe a belt or something around the waistline? But this is a fun, solid design. The mix of punk street-edgieness (ripped stockings and boots) and California sunniness (back-length ponytail and canary-yellow suit) seem just right for this character.
Rachel: 8.5. Right on. I agree that the jacket needs to connect more to the rest of the costume, but otherwise, it’s great. I love the ripped stockings as a substitute for fishnets, and I really like the general functionality of this costume. It’s tough, straight forward, and utilitarian in a way that very few of the submitted designs are.
Vito: 7.5. Jon said it above…yellow is a tough color to pull off. It’s too much yellow for my tastes, but it’s got something. It’s almost there. I really like it, but I’m not head over my heels for it. Dean’s Kill Bill comment is pretty astute, but is it Black Canary? I think it could be. I’d like to see it with the jacket on, but opened. I think then, you’d get a good contrast and the logo.
Jessi: 7. This is a bright costume. I want the boots for myself. I agree with everyone else when they say that the solid yellow needs to be broken up with a contrasting color. I love the sleekness to it, however, the bottom reminds me too much of gym shorts.
Chris: 6. I think this goes too far into straight-up superhero and gym rat.
Khouri: 8. Carly’s excellent redesign invokes a Black Canary-as-Roller-Derby-doll image, something that I think would really work in a comic book story. The only thing I’d change is the jacket — as the others have said, I’d like something tying it to the rest of her outfit, maybe a Canary-shaped buckle or something.
Mike N.: 7.5. There’s something I really like about this costume, but I don’t know if I’d pick this for Dinah. If we had never heard of Black Canary and this was a design from scratch, I might say yeah, but I just don’t see her going with the full on “Game of Death” look. It’s really sharp though, and I LOVE the drawing.
Inelligible P:R Judge Entry!
Dean: A lot of great here. It looks like Joel went era-specific for this Silver Age hero, with a lot of cool little touches. The trim on the coat and pattern on the tights are feathers, and the choker emblem retains heroing identity with or without the coat.
Tim: Ah, the Black Canary of the late-Victoria age. She seems ready to punch some steam-powered robot spiders in a no-nonsense way. I like the elbow pads, and the socks, which are clearly not authentic period details. (Note: I know it’s not really the late-Victorian Black Canary, because she would be riding a steam-powered motorcycle if it were.)
Jess: Completely adorable, but perhaps a bit too youthful for a woman with two adult stepsons. I must admit that I covet that coat, though. And is that a skort?
Khouri: I really dig this. I think this is what Black Canary would look like in a Mike Mignola comic. If we put her in the Victorian era, her bare arms, leggings and wig are probably just as sexily scandalous as any modern-day version of Black Canary, and I think Dinah would love that.
Dean: Off-topic: There are few words I hate more than “skort.”
Rachel: Is “crotch bat” one of them? Because I still can’t get that one out of my head.
Vito: Joel could totally do an Elseworlds JLA and it would be fantastic. I remember his Liberty Belle from waaaaay back on P:RT and I think that if you put all of his heroines together, they’d be a great Birds of Prey EW story.
Jon: Cro-o-o-o-o-o-otch … Ba-a-a-a-a-at. I like the coat, but it doesn’t tie much into the character. If it were part of a larger motorcycle-oriented design scheme – you know, paired with a helmet, specifically, and a specially-designed motorcycle in particular – then this would tie up nicely. Great lines, though, makes me think a little bit of Black Canary as either a bike messenger/spy in WW2 or a thrift store aficianado, at the very least…
Rachel: My favorite costumes are always the ones that hint at a story behind them, and this one has my brain racing: maybe a Black Canary who’s outfitted herself in vintage-shop gear as an homage to her golden-age mom (or grandmother–there’s something really young about this look that makes me think Black Canary TNG).
Joel: I was trying to go for a roller derby vibe, that being a real world bastion of rough-and-tumble fishnettery. The jacket is a dress-cut peacoat and may not really fit in with the rest of the design, but I wanted her to have some coverage when it got chilly out (your mother worries, Black Canary). I don’t know if Dinah’s wig is still in continuity, but I thought it made sense to switch it over to her civilian identity, since that’s the one where she’s less likely to die horribly if it slips at an inopportune moment. And, man, I wish I’d realized what a part of her contemporary hagiography the motorcycle is. It would have been fun to draw one, plus helmet, for this design. Also, the crotchbats. Can’t believe I forgot the crotchbats.
Rachel: I would never have guessed roller derby. I think that, between the crocheted-looking tights, the drape of the dress, and the vintage-y feathered collar on the coat, you’re ending up with a much more delicate effect than you were shooting for.
Chris: A really great Elseworlds tale.
Mike N.: I like how it’s period costume, but it’s making it hard for me to judge in comparison. On it’s own, I do think it’s too generic for a Black Canary outfit.
Note: Runners up after the jump! – D.T.
Dean: 8. I love how adventure-y this one is! Alex is becoming known for his historical styling and attention to detail. This piece is a great example of doing that well. I love the textures and layering, and the bright blue bandanna really works. I’m pretty sure the chest straps need rethinking, but other than that, I really dig it. Action ready!
Tim: 8.5. I like the way this one reminds me of the pre-Golden Age Black Canary that never existed. Like this new version of the character is embracing the long-lost legacy of a character that’s already known as being a legacy character. And if that the helmet is “for motorcycling,” well that just makes it even better. Doesn’t quite scream “Black Canary” to me, but it’s a great design for a new character.
Jess: 7.5. I’d love to see this without the jacket (and those chest straps look incredibly uncomfortable), but I really like what I can see of the top, which recalls her older Birds of Prey outfit and the fishnets while still being attractive and function. Also: a helmet! For someone who rides around on a motorcycle! It shouldn’t be a novel concept, but it is.
Joel: 8. In Comicsworld, it seems brown leather always equates pulp-style adventure. And this one does have a pulpy vibe, but without being a throwback. It’s still plenty contemporary, with a high-waisted jacket and what looks like fishnet-patterned ballistic material. The straps need to be reconsidered, and the costume gets a little plain from the knees down, but I think the big issue is that this seems like a great all-around adventurer’s costume, rather than a martial artist’s.
Jon: 9. Love this one, probably my favorite of all the finalists. Joel’s right in that it does indeed seem more like a brawler’s costume than a martial artist’s, but considering that you have to assume that BC’s fight background is generally MMA (Wildcat was her primary fight instructor, right?), she probably punches and knees her opponents as often as she lays them out with judo. Also, imagine the damage a glasgow kiss delivered with that helment could do. Besides that – I love how spritely and keen the design is, great use of the prominent yellow, which is a hard color to work with. Great look, this.
Rachel: 6. This has some very cool elements, but the overall effect is a little clunky. I’m with Jess–I’d like to see it without the jacket.
Vito: 8. Utilitarian. It looks like a superhero costume, but made from scratch. I, too, prefer it without the jacket, and I would change the boots to be a little less “granola” and more urban.
Jessi: 7. As Joel and Jon pointed out, this is not suited for a martial artist but I love it as a motorcyclist costume. I love the helmet’s design, the fingerless gloves and the pouches around the hips because let’s face it- Dinah’s canon costume leaves no room for superhero accessories!
Chris: 6. I like the design, but I don’t feel it accurately corresponds to Black Canary’s costume history. While most of us would agree that the costume as it is now needs some work, the best redesigns work by not throwing out all the old for the new, but incorporating the old designs to inspire the new ones.
Khouri: 6.5. This design is great. As has been said, it’s a completely serviceable pulp adventure outfit in all the crucial aspects, and the drawing itself has a lot of character built-in. But I’m not sure that character is Black Canary. This design is lacking a strong genetic link to the famous Black Canary costumes of the past. The detail of the torso section does a better job of invoking Dinah (specifically Gary Frank’s version) than Alex’s overall design. What’s undeniable about Black Canary is that, for better or for worse, she always looks sexy and bad-ass. I don’t get either from this submission.
Mike N.: 7.5. This costume is really well thought out. I like how “rough and tumble” practical it is. BC is really known for being a fighter first and a super-powered being second, and I think this shows how somebody would prepare for all the other aspects of adventuring.
Dean: 9. McNally always brings it. So simple, but so good. Most folks avoided using a mask, because Canary’s not known for wearing them, but Jon rules it with a simple bird-implying shape. I could really see this working on a cartoon series. I might go black with the dark blue areas, but otherwise, it’s rockin’.
Tim: 8. I love this drawing, and I love the color scheme. I’m not sure about the canary flying toward her crotch, and the more I look at it, the more it looks like a moustache on her belly. But I love everything else about this design, especially the mask.
Jess: 7.5. Love the mask, love the yellow boots and gloves, not digging the boob-shelf. Maybe if the yellow was extended over her bust? Also, Tim, now that you’ve said it looks like a moustache on her belly I can’t unsee it! Well, Green Arrow probably likes it. He’s got a thing about facial hair.
Joel: 6. Personal bias time: I just can’t get behind taking a non-spandexy character, and spandexing them. This design is simple, well-proportioned, and dynamic, but it gives Black Canary the same silhouette as every other as every other superheroine.
Jon: 8 First off, I want to report that my initial gut reaction to this redesign was: “Hot-CHA!” This is a very 1970’s style costume – it would’ve looked spectaular drawn by Gene Colan, John Romita, The Redondo Studios, Joe Staton – you can really see it (Or I can, anyway) as BC’s costume for her own pre-DC Implosion book. I think that, nowadays, it would seem too retro to pull off – the mask is very 70s, as a for instance, as well as the cut of the boots and the gloves. STILL. I love this thing, and I feel if she HAD donned a costume like this back in the 1970s that Black Canary would be, today, if not a top-tier hero at least a Daredevil-level well-respected second-tier character. Or at least I would’ve been buying her book as eagerly as I was buying DD back in the day (which was “quite eagerly”)…
Vito: 10. For me, this has everything that, as a writer, I would throw in as notes to an artist on my version of Black Canary. Mask, check. And it has a bird motif. Logo, check, and regardless of placement, it’s a clean, simple logo. There’s a great balance of colors, too. I really love this design. She’s also one of the few that has the Veronica Lake-inspired hairdo (although not 100%, but very close).
Rachel: 6.5. For no particularly good reason, this costume takes me straight to Iron Fist and Power Man. It’s a solid design, but ultimately, I agree with Joel–sharp but not terribly distinctive. I love the mask; not as fond of the crotch-diving swallow, although I do like the way it breaks up the lines of the corset.
Jon: PS – Crotch Bird.
Rachel: Exactly how I sign off of all my correspondence.
Jessi: 6. I can’t get past that the fact that Black Canary doesn’t wear a mask. Also: is she wearing a bullet bra and a corset? I can’t see those two things helping her fight crime all too well.
Chris: 6.5. Dinah spends the summer in Gotham?
Khouri: 7.5. This piece reminds me of the fun 1970s superhero pastiches seen in Dexter’s Laboratory. Really in-your-face colors and figure, great bird-like appearance and still very sexy despite the total lack of exposed skin. I think the mask is particularly clever, but the crotch-diving bird is problematic. Then again, I don’t know if Jonathan could have done any better with the bird flying out of Dinah’s crotch?
Mike N.: 7. While I like the feel of the drawing and the style he’s going for, this costume is just too garish for me. It feels like the redesigns that were popular in the 90’s where costumes became unnecessarily complicated compared to their originals. This is not a slam, I promise!
Dean: 7.5. I think of all the frequent contributors at P:R, Paul Milligan has the most consistent aesthetic. The piping, lack of separation between shirt and pants (as our Founding Fathers intended, I believe), and simplified color scheme are all generally familiar across Miligan’s designs. I don’t care for the pockets (despite how sensible they are), but I dig the wing elements and user of the fishnets as a hood-veil. Has a real Angel of Ass-Kicking vibe.
Tim: 8. Out of all the entries, this one seems the most unusual to me, and yet I think it makes for a bold, interesting design. Showing a lack of skin is counterintuitive to what Black Canary is usually about, yet it works here, and gives her a sense of mystery and danger. I like it.
Jess: 7. Like Dean, I really like the fishnet-hood – it’s a way of keeping the iconic fishnets without making them sleazy or (quite as) impractical. I’m not sure it quite screams “Black Canary” to me, but it’s definitely very powerful. I’d like to see it with the cloak off.
Joel: 7. From about the waist-up I think this is a really exciting design. That fishnet veil/hood with the black lipstick smile peeking out from underneath is dramatic and creepy in a very wonderful way. The fastening of the cape and the curlicue wings are continue the dama, and build on a maybe-I’m-imagining-it religious subtext. But, as Dean points out, Milligan has a consitent aesthetic, and the lower you go, the more the design elements seem to be seem to be falling into familiar patterns rather than addressing the needs of this particular costume. The beltless buckle and the boot-cut pants in particular strike me as not really belonging, here.
Rachel: 7. I like the cut and wing motif of the shrug, but the hood strikes me as wildly impractical. I love the somewhat-mysterious martial artist vibe going on here, especially in light of the way the character has developed over the last couple years. Not fond of the black lipstick.
Vito: 8.5. It has a lot of what I like in Mat Major’s piece, but it seems a little bulkier, and therefore, more uncomfortable. The yellow wings are great though.
Jon: 7. The cloak and the hood are terrifically dramatic, although I think the yellow is a little TOO yellow. The pantsuit could use some streamlining – the pockets could go, for instance, and I think something more form-fitting would execute a better line. Great placement of the fishnet, though, exceptionally clever way to keep it on the costume without having BC falling out of it with every scissor kick …
Jessi: 7. While this costume is one of the more exciting submissions I’ve seen, I’m not in love with the fishnet hood. She doesn’t have peripheral vision. Even if she looks like she could kick ass in this costume, I believe that do-wrongers would be kicking her ass because she couldn’t see.
Chris: 7. Paul’s got a lot of great ideas. I applaud him for trying to keep the fishnet in there, and transitioning it to be part of the hood.
Khouri: 7. I really don’t like this design for Black Canary — I think it’s something Dinah would hate to try on in a superhero department store — but I have to give Paul credit for all the cleverness to be found here. The coat/cape is a really cool concept and the yellow pipings along the legs and cuffs are awesome. I don’t think the fishnet hood works at all but I am impressed by Paul’s daring. Really creative approach, but I think this design would be better suited for Raven.
Mike N.: 7. I like where this one is going. It’s still got the “x-man movie” design thing going, but I like the bird motif incorporated.
Dean: 7.5. Love the glam-hero vibe and color scheme here. I think it maybe needs a little more superheroey-ness to break out of being just being club-wear. But the stompy boots help. Side note: The caged bird shadow is really cool.
Tim: 7. Love this drawing, and I like the hair and attitude a lot. As Dean says, it needs more “superheroey-ness,” I think.
Jess: 7. Beautiful piece, very cute outfit, but I agree with Dean and Tim – not superheroic, especially for a martial artist who doesn’t like to rely on her powers. I just keep imagining her falling to her knees on asphalt in that. Ouch.
Joel: 8. I’m not bothered by the lack of superheroey-ness in this one, at all. There’s nice punk attitude here, that works well for the younger Dinah trying to emerge from her mother’s shadow. The feather-jacket is magnificent. I wouldn’t mind a subtle hint of insignia, however.
Jon: 8. This does indeed have the feel of a younger BC, more rebellious. Fantastic attitude, loving the feather collar on the jacket – it’s a great way to ironically evoke the idea of the character – feathers on a black leather jacket is pretty spectacular, in a vein of gallows humor. I initially flinched at how vulnerable the seemingly thin fabrics seem to make her, but then again, the canonical BC has fishnets and a bustiere, so you can see this outfit as a hands-down improvement.
Rachel: 7. If I look at this as a teenaged Black Canary who’s thrown a costume together from her closet, I like it a whole, whole lot. Otherwise, while this is an adorable outfit, it reads as street clothes–there’s ultimately nothing that tells me this is supposed to be a superhero rather than a random teen girl. I like the feathered collar, but it’s got to go a lot further before it’s an actual costume. Even the addition of a mask or some kind of clear emblem would make a huge difference.
Vito: 8.5. I dig it! There’s a lot here that makes sense, and it’s not overtly sexist…in fact, I think it’s kind of empowering! Everyone’s right that it doesn’t look like a superhero costume, so I say, slap a domino mask and boom! Done-zo!
Jessi: 6. I love the color scheme, but not so much the simplicity. Since she’s a martial artist, all I’m imagining is feathers flying everywhere.
Chris: 7. The feathers are awesome in this — Andy’s inspired choice to bring them in for Black Canary’s bird-themed name is really nice.
Khouri: 6. This is something Dinah might wear to a club –the fishnets and feathers are cool clues as to her superhero identity, but it’s not a Black Canary superhero costume. I think I’d like this more if Andy had retained the black/blue-and-yellow color scheme, I don’t think purple is appropriate for Black Canary. The cagey shadow is awesome, though.
Mike N.: 6. I really love this drawing. It really gets across the Black Canary aesthetic, but it’s too “plain clothes” for me. This just looks like a girl going to a rave. Hey, that can work in comics now though. If we’re out to design a distinctive costume, though… I’m not sure I’d go with this as a look.
Dean: 7.5. Cute, tough, and fashionable as hell, but I need more superheroeyness. Add a silver canary emblem anywhere and I’d give this a nine.
Tim: 9. Possibly a bit on the S&M side of things, but I love the hair and the bow on the small of the back. I also love the choice of pixie boots instead of jack boots. Good call there, Hannah. I’d like to see the belt buckle feature the canary emblem, but I’m fine without it.
Jess: 6.5. Lovely piece, but those shoes would fall right off or break her ankles, and all that exposed skin (plus things to grab onto and untie) on a street-level fighter with no invulnerability seems unwise.
Jon: 8. I love everything about this – the elegance, the fashionability, the long lines and elegant exposure of skin in the back, the cute and subtly distinctive silhouette – all of it, except the shoes. I just keep thinking how she’s going to snap her ankles. Still, it’s worth saying that I love the tie in the back, love the collar cut, love the heroin chic makeup, the big cuffs (always a favorite of mine) the whole deal – but the shoes are such a dealbreaker. Forty years of reading comics with superheroines fighting crime in high heels has poisoned the idea for me …
Rachel: 4. This is club wear, not a superhero costume. There’s really nothing but the color scheme that even connects this costume to Black Canary. Hannah also loses points for feasibility–the ankle booties and the tie on the shirt aren’t just impractical, they’d be outright liabilities in a fight.
Joel: 6. Aw, man, you know who this could just as easily be a great costume for? Lashina.
Vito: 5. There’s not enough for me to really judge it as a Black Canary costume redesign. It looks like Dinah on the town for a night with the girls (this is what she’d wear in the the new Brave and the Bold (#33) issue if she was invited to boogie with Z, Diana and Babs). Cute outfit though.
Rachel: Exactly. It’s an outfit, not a costume.
Jessi: 5. Pulled the words right out of my mouth, Vito and Rachel. Another pair of shoes I’d like to own though and I’m crushing on the art!
Chris: 8. I Really enjoy the top half of the costume, and her new haircut. This reminds me of the Batman 2 movie’s Catwoman in a way, but it needs a bit of work — but it’s really close to something great.
Khouri: 8. Love it! Dinah would totally wear this. If the couture booties were sturdier, I’ll bet she’d wear it for crime-fighting too.
Mike N.: 5. Also too generic for me. I agree that it looks like clubwear. It’s pretty, just not Black Canary.
Dean: 7. So cute! Great wing emblem, and cool arrangement of elements. Love the cape. I think It would’ve worked a bit better without the purple. Yellow, blue, or gray, maybe?
Tim: 5. This incredibly earnest design feels more like someone pretending to be Black Canary instead of actually going out and kicking bad guys in the face. I like the purple piping, actually, but the chest-wing and the translucent silk cape feel a bit too formal for me.
Jess: 6. I’m with Tim – it evokes Black Canary without actually being her. Maybe her kid sidekick, who flies (Hummingbird? that’s got to already be a superhero name somewhere).
Jon: 7. So. Adorable. It is such a cute costume – sadly, the one version of Black Canary for whom I don’t think it works is the current incarnation. Black Canary’s kid, Black Canary’s sidekick, a Black Canary of the future, Black Canary’s prom dress – all of these things click, but just not for the current BC, who’s been through so much (also, the scarf/cape is probably what keeps me from associating it with the current BC, it seems unlikely for her needs). But still, I have to say it again, SO CUTE. Just charming on every level.
Rachel: 7.5. I think those of you emphasizing cute are missing the design for the art style. Imagine this outfit drawn by Nicola Scott, and it goes from cute to super-stylish and elegant. I’m not sure how well it fits Dinah, and I have some misgivings about the sheer cape and the purple piping, but it’s a beautiful design.
Joel: 5. I’m having trouble imagining this in another artist’s style, and for a very important reason: there’s a lot of information left out about how this costume actually works. How does the transparent cape attach to the off-the-shoulder top? Does the piping on the gloves continue down the side of the hand and pinkie? How far above the knee of a less styized leg would the boot go? What kind of soles and heels do those boots have? Artistically, I love a simplified style, but it can be tricky in a context like this.
Vito: 8. You know what? I really like this! Not too crazy about the cape, however. Maybe James thought that it was too minimalist without it, but I think that in this case, the added accessory dropped a point or two. The colors work, the logo is hot…maybe add a different accessory, like a belt or pouches on the arms/gloves? And opera gloves are totally the way to my heart.
Rachel: There’s a belt pouch already. Look closely.
Vito: Oh yeah! There’s the difference between looking on a PC and looking on a Mac. Still think it needs more though.
Jessi: 6. This is an adorable costume but its just too cutesy for Canary.
Chris: 6. It’s too cutesy for Canary — but the real test of a great design is to see how someone of a dramatically different style would draw it. I think the cutesy is the illustration — not the design. I love love love the single wing breastplate.
Khouri: 5. The one-strap top is a deal-breaker for me, but I do love James’ incorporation of a wing design on her chest. We’ve got some more purple here which I again find strange. I don’t think Black Canary works with a cape but I give James points for giving it a shot.
Mike N.: 7. Really like this design. The cape isn’t something I would’ve expected, but I don’t hate it either. The emblem is the most interesting part of this design, and I’m not sure I would’ve picked purple as an accent color. I know it sounds dumb, but I think this may be too simple a costume for Canary.
Dean: 6. I’m not sure about this one. I like the one-piece and the coat, but I want to see it in a more heroey pose to see how it really works. The boot-heel-combo-shoes are kinda cool, and I like her hair.
Tim: 7. I think the one-piece suit looks good, and I like the boots a lot. Not sold on the jacket-thing, though. Looks too matronly to me.
Joel: 7. Oh, the jacket is my favorite part! Bolero-cum-kimono, it would move dramatically during combat, and yet it looks cozy and comfortable. The shoes strike me as busy: they’re Cinderella’s slippers, and galoshes, and support hose for good measure. The hair is nice, and what I can see of the body suit looks good, although I’d like to see how the rest of it is constructed.
Jess: 7. I wish we could see more of the bodysuit, because I like what I can see of it. To me the jacket looks less matronly and more like something someone in my knitting group might make – I just can’t shake the feeling that, while totally cute, it’s made of wool and thus would be extremely unpleasant to sweat in. I confess to not understanding the boots – are they shoes over galoshes?
Vito: 6.5. It’s an interesting use of the fishnets, but I’m not sold on it. The best piece is the jacket because it calls to mind bird’s wings. But I’m not sold on the bodice. It doesn’t look like anything we haven’t seen recently, except it’s more of a bustier than a one-piece.
Jon: 6. I like the drawing a lot, but the costume evokes for me the image of dropping the original look jacket on the Birds of Prey jumpsuit. The stockings and boots are the most visually exciting part for me, combined with the kimono style of the jacket – I find myself wanting the bodysuit to have a little more unique flair, though.
Rachel: 5. This is maybe the most instantly swimwear-evocative costume I’ve seen. It’s a nice and character-appropriate swimsuit, but it’s still a swimsuit, and the cover-up-style lines on the shrug really emphasize that. The shrug really is lovely, but it’d get lost the first time she picked a fight, and it’s impractical for a motorcycle. I really don’t understand what’s going on with the footwear.
Jessi: 7. I do like the body suit. The shrug is adorable too. I agree with Rachel with the swimwear comment.
Chris: 7. This could really be something. I’d like to see this costume up and moving to get a better idea.
Khouri: 4. The bodysuit should be the focus here, it looks like a really simple but effective redesign of the Gary Frank elements from those first Birds of Prey books. But the drawing is more about the pose and the attitude, which I’m sorry to say strikes me as quite skanky.
Mike N.: 7. Really like the combination of the old with some simple “why didn’t I think of that before!” additions. The sweater gives a sort of “kimono/martial arts” thing as well as make her look more bird-like. I really like the drawing as well.
Dean: 7. Gorgeous illustration, and the outfit is super sexy, but I’m not sold on it working for superheroing. I love the wide fishnets and design of the one-piece, though. The leather jacket helps a bit with the toughness, but the high heels don’t.
Tim: 7. Black Canary has a history of impractical wear, and this is another example. I love how it’s kind of a “What if Michelle Pfeiffer from ‘Grease 2′ were secretly a sleazy superhero?” Really great drawing, but this feels more like a transitional look than a permanent one.
Jess: 6. This just exacerbates all the problems with the current costume – the wider fishnets are sleazier and less protective than the current ones, and the heels and awkward height of the boots (how would she bend her knees?) take away the one reasonable aspect of Dinah’s costume. I really like the bird emblem, though, and would love to see what’s going on in that little leotard expanded into a full bodysuit.
Jon: 5. It’s a lovely illustration, but it feels to me like less of a redesign and more like making the traditional BC costume sexier … to a fault. “What if we made the fishnets fishnettier, and the bustiere busteireier…” and so on. Probably what this character needs isn’t a tighter top and a higher cut leg…
Jess: “Bustiereier” is an amazing word, though.
Rachel: 5. I’m with Jess and John. The cut and styling of this costume amplify what’s already wrong with BC’s costume, and those boots are seriously hurting my brain. That said, I love both the use of tan in the palette and the way the canary motif is integrated into the lines of the bustier.
Joel: 6. It seems like sexiness was the first, second, third, and last consideration for this costume. And while that’s fine in certain contexts, punching Starro isn’t one of them. Nice insignia. And I’m intrigued by Jess’ suggestion of a full bodysuit variation.
Vito: 8.5. I can’t give it lower because it’s a beautiful concept, but I can’t go higher because it’s impractical in execution (or rather, in utilization as a superhero costume). It’s practically the original costume, so it’s no slight on Barbara, but I can’t imagine a world where a superhero would wear this. Granted, the DCU has Starfire and Power Girl and their respective costumes, but Dinah always struck me as old fashioned…I tend to think she’d wear something her mom would approve of. I don’t think anyone (but Ollie) would approve this one. Still, it’s a great design…DC Direct should use this for their Ame-Comi toy line). Wow, those are some long legs.
Jessi: 5. That is some beautiful art, however, the costume screams of impracticality. There is no way her costume, being that she’s a fighter, would withstand gravity with the strapless romper. The shoes look like they could break an ankle and the necklace would put her in trouble with choking. I do like the Canary symbol!
Chris: 5. I love the illustration here, but the actual design doesn’t really help the Canary in her plight.
Khouri: 7.5. Barbara hits the major Black Canary beats in this redesign, which I think looks very much like what Dinah might have custom-made at Trashy Lingerie, where some of my cosplay friends have their Zatanna and Power Girl corsets-type things constructed. I’m not sure I agree that practicality is all that relevant for superhero costumes. Certainly, there are some memorably ridiculous female character costumes out there, but Barbara’s doesn’t cross into that territory. This is a fun update of the classic look.
Mike N.: 5. Great illustration, but not really different enough from BC’s current look for me.
Dean: 7.5. I dig this one a lot. Besides being a wonderful illustration, it looks more like a uniform someone might actually like to wear while superheroing than a lot of the entries. And despite not making any sense at all, the fishnet knee-“patches” look cool to me.
Tim: 5. I like the drawing, and I like the earrings and gloves, but this seems too much like an X-Men uniform.
Jess: 9. Love the jacket, love the gauntlets, love the piping, love the bizarre knees. But damn you, Tim, now I can’t unsee the X-Men thing either!
Joel: 6. Yeah, it’s X-Many, and the knees seem like the one place you would not want to preserve the fishnets, but there’s a nice down-to-earthiness to this costume, and I’m happy with the subtle bird-emblem Sokol provided the Canary with. The piping on the gloves looks very interesting: sort of like a bird in flight, and sort of like an inverted face. I think if the whole design was pushed a little more in that direction, it would find itself in more distinctive territory.
Vito: 7. Yeah, that’s funny you said X-Men, guys. I thought it was Siryn when I first saw it. It’s a little too casual for superhero wear, I think, but I love the contrasting colors.
Jon: 5. Tim has poisoned us all with his hypnotic mention of the Quitely X-gear, although I’d’ve agreed, I think, without the mention of it. The belt emblem took me a moment – I think this needs to be guided by the motif more, as it right now has the feeling of having accessorized a union suit …
Rachel: If those are actual kneepads covered in fishnet, 6. If they are fishnet-lined holes in the jeans, 4. It’s practical, but nothing that evokes the character. I like the belt buckle a lot, though.
Jessi: 5. I can see a teenage Canary wearing this. Tim is totally spot on with the Mutant Academy comment.
Chris: 5. Can’t get the X-men character Siren out of my head with this from her X-Force days.
Khouri: 5. Kim’s created a pretty cool Canary outfit for special tasks in colder weather or something along those lines, but the fishnet knees are really distracting. I appreciate the attempt to incorporate that classic Canary motif, but it really doesn’t work.
Mike N.: 4. This one, like some of the others is just too generic for me. Looks like movie x-men designs.
Dean: 5. This one’s a little too conventional for me, but I like the lenses and back emblem.
Tim: 4.5. This one’s a superhero-mom kind of look, and I’d like to see something more youthful-looking. The earrings are keepers, though.
Jess: 7. I like this one a lot! I think it’s the glasses that make it mom-ish, mostly, and those are easy enough to remove. But the boots + short hair + exposed cleavage beneath a high collar are making me think it’s Power Girl in disguise.
Joel: 6: It’s telling that I like this better in it’s cartoonier instantiation. There are a lot of great elements, here, but they are all a little exaggerated. The height of the boots, the size of the earrings, the pronounced cuff and collars—these proportions work well for the smaller SD-style, but lacks harmony on a larger scale. But, yeah, that back-emblem is superb.
Vito: 7. It’s not so bad! It reminds me of her JLI look, which is actually my favorite costume.
Jon: 7. The glasses and the collar are very spritely, I like them, and I really like the jacket emblem, but I think what the cartoon versions are showing us is that the simpler the lines, the better this looks. There’s a bit too much clutter in the body, and bulkiness in the wrists and thighs. Streamlined more, this would be in my top two or three, I think.
Rachel: 5. This is a generally nice design, but it also strikes me as really generic–there’s nothing about it that really indicates Black Canary to me. That said, extending the bodysuit and adding a belt is a really stylish fix to the fishnets-and-bustier issue.
Jessi: 7. The top half is very Golden Age Dinah Drake Black Canary- first thing I thought of when I saw it. So are the pirate cuff boots. That being said, I agree with Jon. If this was a little more simplistic, I’d give it a higher grade.
Chris: 6. This reminds me of Stuart Immonen’s recent redesign of Mockingbird. Not a rip-off, but they both seem to be inspired by similar things.
Khouri: 5. Great idea for a back-emblem, but the rest of the design seems clunky and generally over-thought.
Mike N.: 5. It’s a “thick” costume. Reminds me a lot of the 80’s gear she used to wear. All of the detailing actually makes it less iconic a costume.
Dean: 7.5. I love the leather and thinking, but the feather elements are taken to the point of overkill. Really need to avoid badass chickenness with bird-elements. Love the bike, though.
Tim: 5. Too much like a chicken-suit, really, no matter how cool the motorcycle is. (And it’s very cool.)
Jess: 5.5. Same here. Awesome cycle, awesome boots, bonus points for the helmet, but I think the suit itself needs to be simplified in order to keep all the feathers everywhere else (and by all means, keep the feathers everywhere else, because they’re fantastic!).
Joel: 8. I’m very happy with the baroque weirdness of this design. A few designs have been described as “Year One.” This one strikes me more as “Kingdom Come.” This looks like a veteran superhero, comfortable in her iconography and authority, and maybe a little out of touch. The three-toed tabi boots kinda freak me out, though.
Rachel: 6. I don’t know why capri-length leggings work so well for me on this character, but they really do. I love the baroque weirdness, but I don’t think it fits Black Canary–she’s all about efficiency, hard punches, and clean lines. The helmet, on the other hand, is great, although it’s more cockatiel than canary.
Vito: 6. I appreciate the “go big or go home” attitude in this one, but it feels a little over the top. There’s a lot of thought that went into this design…maybe too much? It’s cool, but it says Elseworlds to me. Someone get that bike on a production line, stat!
Jon: 5. The leather-and-feathers idea is keen, but this needs to be streamlined. The lines of the costume cut across the figure, contradict each other, push the eye out in some places and in at others. The feathers need to look as though they’re in motion, or aligned naturally, but right now they look ruffled. (Also, are those talon designs … on the kneecaps?)
Vito: Streamline streamline streamline. That should be a P:RT mantra.
Jessi: 5. Canary in a post apocalyptic universe. She gonna do some battlin’ in the Thunderdome.
Chris: 5. Too much of a good thing here. The bike, though, is perfect.
Khouri: 4. Brilliant bike, but the costume looks too much like the Black Chicken of the Apocalypse. Still, it’s quite daring and definitely thoughtful.
Mike N.: 5. Points for going all out with the “Bird-Biker” thing, but it’s a little busy for me. I would NOT want to draw that panel after panel :)
Robert Wilson IV
Dean: 7. Simple, clean, badass. Love it. Not digging the kneepads, but they do make sense and add some edge to the fishnets. I’d like to see what the uniform looks like without the jacket.
Tim: 6.5. I like the simplicity of the design, but I’m not sold on what we can see under the jacket. It could use a stronger emblem, because this one seems too much like Dove, and too little like Black Canary.
Jess: 6.5. I’m with Tim on this one – the blue feathery thing just seems a little arbitrary. I actually like the kneepads – after all, she does ride around on a motorcycle.
Joel: 6. The most significant departure of the design from the canon costume is the bodysuit, which, unfortunately, isn’t terribly visible, here. From what I can see, it would look a little plain without a jacket over top of it. But the skeptical expression is great—I imagine Green Arrow just off panel, trying out a line. And that’s a stylish and practical hairstyle.
Vito: 6. It’s not bad, but I’m not blown away by it. It seems very casual, but I’m not sure if that’s the design or the pose. Jess used the word, “arbitrary,” to describe the logo. While it does call to mind the James Crabb entry above, which I loved, I think the jacket might be taking away from the appeal of the logo.
Jon: 8. You know, it’s really simple, but it’s also really appealing. It evokes that period in the Nineties just after the Image boom, when DC and Marvel stopped trying to make every book look like a Liefeld thing and started hiring artists with subtle, understated, draughtsmanlike lines. Characters (like Green Arrow Connor Hawke, for instance) started toning down their costumes, the stories were less bombastic and more character-driven – This BC looks like a perfect fir for that time and those sort of stories, which were less about crunching people’s noses with one’s elbow and more about human beings with problems. I like it, I like how it uses one note to evoke the character, it strikes me as a very pure, very well-though-out design.
Rachel: 6. I wish I could see more of the bodysuit. I like the simplicity of it, but nothing here really blows me away. The look on her face kind of sums up how I feel like about the costume.
Jessi: 5. The color scheme reminds me of that awful Canary costume from the 80’s. I also believe I’ve seen ladies dress like this (sans kneepads) to go clubbin’.
Chris: 5. It reminds me of roller derby.
Khouri: 2. This looks just like the existing Black Canary costume, except without all the Black Canary parts. The figure in this drawing is also way too plain Jane for Dinah.
Mike N.: 5 I do like this costume, but it just seems unfinished. Something’s missing for me.
Dean: 7. Great illo, good use of colors and shapes. I really dig the two-part mask and the fishnet sleeves.
Tim: 5. I love this drawing, and I like the color scheme, but it’s a bit too much Dazzler for me.
Jess: 8.5. Really, really enjoying this one, which evokes the costume she wore for much of Birds of Prey while retaining the fishnet motif in a classy way (well, as classy as fishnets get, I guess). While I really love the illustration, I’d like to see this in a less stylized piece to get a better sense of the costume, but from what I can see: awesome.
Joel: 5. A lovely, fun illustration, but the stylization is allowing for too much interpetation on the viewers part as to what, exactly, this design would really look like. And what I’m seeing is “Dazzler: Agent of SHIELD.”
Rachel: 5. Like Joel, I’m having trouble seeing how this costume would translate to a less stylized version, and the mask is totally Dazzler.
Vito: 6. I can’t get Dazzler out of my head now. I like the use of the fishnets on the arms, but again, I can’t get into that vest. Great illustration though.
Jon: 5. This seems like a very small variation on an existing costume – which is fine, no problem with that – but the denim vest isn’t something I’d consider an improvement, per se. The fishnet sleeves really are a nice touch, though, although I think the two-piece mask (I’m assuming it’s a mask and not makeup) might be a tetch distracting visually, when rendered more realistically. Fun illustration, though, lots to enjoy about that.
Jessi: 4. I agree with Jess. I’d love to see this design rendered in a different style so I can view the costume. That being said: this reminds me of Marvel’s Mockingbird.
Chris: 4. Dazzler meets Mockingbird.
Khouri: 6.5. I love this drawing but the hyper-stylization makes it difficult to figure out how this would work on a more realistic figure. That said, I don’t want to discourage artists like Wayne from creating pieces like this, because it’s really fun and cute and I think Dinah would dig it. I especially like the eyes.
Mike N. 4. I like the drawing more than the costume. It’s really not much more than a super-spy jumpsuit. The illustration really does give it character, though!!
Note: Check back next week for the Honorable Mentions! – Dean