Note: In the years we’ve been doing Project: Rooftop, the contributors to the site have often discussed other heroes (and villains) that are in need of a wardrobe change. We’ve been lucky enough to receive several art contributions of characters that have been on our personal wishlists, but there remains many that are still waiting their turn in the makeover chair. So today we decided to make our wishlists public and point out some heroes in need of a costume redesign. We encourage the artists reading to take these to heart and come up with your own redesigns! – Chris Arrant
One of the unique things about the superhero genre is how it gives its character’s a set of work clothes they are supposed to wear day-in and day-out. It’s their uniform—and their brand—and over the years, we’ve seen some drastic redesigns and some gradual shifts to some classic (and not-so classic characters). For me personally, I think the best redesigns that have recently taken place in the real fake world of comics are probably Darwyn Cooke’s Catwoman redesign in 2001 and 2007’s redesign of Thor by Olivier Coipel. Both heroes sorely in need—and both heroes were well taken care of.
With that in mind, here are some other heroes I feel are in need of a wardrobe facelift.
The Phantom. One of the first superheroes from the bygone pulp days, the Phantom actually holds the distinction of being the first superhero with a skin-tight suit. Although slight variations have been made to him over time—very slight—the Phantom looks like a four-color throwback in today’s modern world. With the history of the mantle of the Phantom, the transition to a new Phantom would be an ideal time to consider a trip to the seamstress.
Black Knight. Okay, maybe he’s not in the same class as the first two—but hey, he’s one of the earliest Avengers. In his most recent appearances as a member of Captain Britain’s MI:13, he’s showed up in more casual wear with a helmet and sword…while that’s an improvement somewhat, I felt it went too far into Casual Fridays for me. A medieval knight as superhero—all the clunky armor seems contrary to the spirited swordplay of the man, but I think there’s a way somehow. What say you, artists?
Firestorm. There’s fire still left in this hero if the recent focus in the pages of the recent Brightest Day series, but he’s been returned to the costume straight out of the ’70s. The closest to being good has been the Jason Rausch design from 2004 by Criss Cross, which was expertly revised in covers by Brian Stelfreeze, but it’s still nothing definitive. If DC has any hopes of carving out some continued success from the character, some more thought needs to be put into the visuals—and the story.
The Martian Manhunter. The giant green monster look works for the Hulk because they’ve kept it simple. With the Manhunter, he’s got one of everything from a flared collar to a bandolier to patriot boots, and none of it looks alien except in the sense that his culture may not have a concept of godawful eyesores. I know we’ve got one of these in the pike for the JLA Redesign, but I’d love to see MM taken on en masse.
Susan Storm, The Invisible Woman. The other three members of the FF have such distinct looks – The Thing is is The Thing, the Human Torch always has his flaming persona, and Reed Richards always gets the most use out of the FF’s standard issue jumpsuit by stretching it into dynamic shapes – but Sue literally and metaphorically vanishes. Whenever they do get new costumes, most of the time Sue ends up wearing the exact same thing the boys do, styled for the boys, like she’s wearing an older brother’s castoff pajamas. And when they HAVE given her a unique costume, well, it’s stuff like that weird bondage/bikini thing from the Tom DeFalco years. I’ve always thought she desperately needed her own look, something uniquely “Invisible Woman.”
The Spectre. Or, at least, this new Spectre. They went and gave us a new Spectre, and … he has a goatee, ta-daa, the end. It’s disappointing, especially given the slightly frustrating “you-can-tell-he’s-a-black-man-because-he’s-got-a-goatee/Let’s-make-sure-he-looks-like-Samuel-L-Jackson” motif which dominates African American superhero character design. The events surrounding Crispus Allen’s transformation into the Spectre were dramatic enough that he deserved his own design, not just having a sharpie marker taken to the old design.
Note: Lots more after the jump! – D.T.
I can think of a few characters who could use some new duds.
Superboy. Conner Kent. He looked fine when Francis Manapul drew him in “Adventure Comics,” but it’s still a costume with high-waisted jeans and a t-shirt, like something someone’s uncle wears to the cookout because he thinks it will make him look young.
Star Sapphire. I get that she—and her Zamaron sisters — are sexed-up as part of their power set, but it’s a little too sleazy stripperish for the Green Lantern universe. How about something more elegantly sexy? Or something that doesn’t look like a spin-off of Lady Death?
Geo-Force. He’s a prince of a far-off land. He’s one of the guys Batman chose to hang out with back in the old days. He’s terribly tormented about the death of the sister he never really knew he had, and even when he found out about her, she was evil pretty much immediately. And his costume needs some help. The yellow and green “GF” look didn’t work at all, and the classic brown-and-slightly-lighter brown doesn’t distinguish him enough. He deserves better.
Ms. Marvel. She has a military background and she dresses like that? With the sash belt and everything? Her ongoing series was about trying to become the hero she never knew she could be, and even if that series is over, she still needs a costume that matches that go-get-’em attitude. Something more iconic. Something to give her the nobility of a hero.
Nova. I’m just not feeling the bladey shoulder pads in his more recent look. The helmet can’t be changed, but he needs some new clothes to go along with his more important (if secret) status in the Marvel U.
For me, Project: Rooftop represents childhood wish fulfillment at it’s most creative; everyone wanted to be Wolverine, but maybe that yellow and blue number was too yellow for you. So we broke out the magic markers and the crayons and went to work on our version of the ultimate costume. We live (and some of us, work) in an industry where redesigns pop up every few years. It might be in a different line of comics (Marvel’s Ultimate line, for example), or it might be in a relaunch (Starman, Firestorm, etc.). Whatever the case may be, here’s my list for characters that need a little bit of a pick-me-up in their closets.
Taskmaster. He’s a great villain, but I think he’s still considered B- or C-List. Why? That costume. Yes, I get it. You can mimic the fighting styles of anyone you see…and apparently, you can also mimic Daredevil’s blindness because brother, you are wearing too much to be considered a top notch threat. He had a different costume for a little while (designed by the UDON guys) which was…ok, but not great. It’s a shame because this guy could be A-List.
Darkseid. He. Is. Wearing. A. Skirt. I don’t care how bad ass he is, or the fact that Jack Kirby created him. He. Is. Wearing. A. Skirt. Here’s a case where you have an A-List villain, the cream of the crop, and we’re supposed to cower in fear of him while he wears a tunic? Thanos laughs at this guy. Why? Say it with me…He. Is. Wearing. A. Skirt. Now granted, pants won’t necessarily make him…better, for lack of a more appropriate word, but he just isn’t scary to me. Darkseid is the epitome of evil…let’s make him LOOK like it! This might be a wholesale redesign or a matter of creating a costume that really says “universal evil,” but whatever it is, it can’t be a skirt.
Mister Miracle. My second Kirby character. Kirby is a sacred cow in comics; He’s the King, after all. But after watching the Tim Gunn interview/costume critique on Crazy Sexy Geeks that has made the rounds, I can’t help but think that these guys are right; he’s a Christmas ornament. The design is great (it perfectly captures Kirby’s unique design sense), but it’s somehow flawed (I point to the colors, specifically). I liked how he looked Seven Soldiers, but I don’t know…I get the feeling Miracle could be taken to another level.
Metamorpho. He’s too close to Ultra, the Multi Alien for me (who, technically, followed Metamorpho, chronologically). It’s a classic Ramona Fradon design, but I think he can be updated. I wonder…what if he was Rex Mason in a costume and he just used his powers? That takes away from the character some, but I think there’s a lot that can be done with him yet. Again, I think it might be a case of color palette. Do those colors truly define the power set he represents (an elemental that can shapeshift and transmute)? Or are they an antiquated look that can be changed to better suit those powers? Again, he’s a classic character with a classic design (one I quite like), but if DC instilled an “Ultimate” style reimagining, I don’t think he’d look like this.
The Question. Ok, he’s (and she’s) actually not in need of a redesign. The Question, whether it be Sage or Montoya, is a pulp style detective with little need of color and flash. But, I just wonder what he/she would look like if he/she had a more traditional superhero tights look (akin to the Golden Age Sandman going from the trenchcoat to the gold and purple mask and tights). Who wants to take a swing at this one?
Gambit. In a sea of iffy costumes, Gambit’s classic look stands out as singularly awful. He’s the only superhero with a costume so bad he has to cover it up with a trenchcoat. This can not stand.
Iron Fist. World’s first disco martial artist. Iron Fist is in desperate need of an update, or, at the very least, some serious collar reduction. And, speaking of superheroes who have continued to evolve while their costumes remained stuck somewhere in the mid seventies…
Power Man. Some of the best costumes are made from accessorized street clothes–just look at Starman or the Question. Unfortunately, Luke Cage’s is not one of them; the cartoonish chains were bad enough, but now that he’s lost them, he just looks like a dude in sunglasses who can’t or won’t button his shirt.
Green Arrow. Monochromatic. Peter. Pan. Costume. ‘Nuff said.
Huntress. Huntress is an interesting, nuanced character, stuck in an exceptionally generic unitard (and let’s not even mention the unfortunate midriff cut-out). I’d like to see her in something that’s more distinctive and better-personalized.
Wonder Girl. It’s been said before, but from the ratty old wig she debuted in to the arm-restraining Christmas sweater she’s sporting now, the poor girl cannot catch a break. Is it possible to give Cassie something coherent, age-appropriate, and uniquely her while being simultaneously Wonderful?
Rip Hunter. A red and green jumpsuit does not say “time traveller” to me. It says “Christmas elf.” I don’t care how hardcore his stubble is. Dan Jurgens has made several valiant efforts to cool-ify Rip’s costume over the past couple years, and heck, the t-shirt and jeans work well enough for a dude who spends most of his time in a lab berating Booster Gold, but can we give him something more superheroic and temporally apropos, just for funsies?
Stargirl. Bike shorts. Bare midriff. Look, I know she debuted in 1999. And now thanks to that costume, so does everybody else.
Guy Gardner. They’ve taken it easy on the hair lately, but come on. A turtleneck, a wide-collared vest, that ridiculous Elvis belt, and stretch workout pants presumably purchased at Lady Foot Locker? It would be the worst Green Lantern costume of all time if everything else he’s worn, ranging from a midriff-baring tank top (Yes. He really did this.) to no shirt and fakey-fake tribal tattoos, wasn’t worse.
Ultra-Humanite. Okay, I suppose there’s no reason a giant albino gorilla with psychic powers couldn’t wear a red-and-gold support truss with bondage suspenders and a little modesty flap. But that doesn’t mean he he should. Ultra’s the oldest supervillain in comics and a formidable foe even for Kryptonians. I think he’s earned the right to look legitimately intimidating.