It strikes me that it may be a nice idea to include some other images of Batgirl that I have floating around, as a supplement to the last post…especially since these are a couple of looks that Barbara almost made her return in as Batgirl.
See, DC Comics has wanted to bring Barbara Gordon back to the batsuit for awhile, and there was a brief point in time where Alan Ross was going to be the one to draw her returning to life.
Or, at least, he designed a look for her return to the Batgirl mantle.
To those of you who may be familiar with the current Batwoman, this look may strike you as being somewhat familiar. That’s because this look was originally meant for Barbara - who would regain the use of her legs via a Lazarus Pit. The red was meant to signify that Barbara was in a darker place than she previously had been. Other than that, note how similar it is to her original look as Batgirl, minus the Batsymbol, which is drawn to look more like the Batsymbol from Batman Beyond.
While I’m not sure what this look, exactly, was meant for, it appeared in a very recent Batman comic. The look is similar to the look that Alicia Silverstone had in her role as Batgirl in the tragically campy Batman & Robin from 1997. What the purpose for this design was, we’ll never know, due to the relaunch, but it was certainly an interesting idea they had for Barbara Gordon.
In honour of Batgirl #1 relaunching this week, as part of DC Comics’ effort to stay relevant, modern, and hip, I think it may be a good time to look at how the face and look of Batgirl has evolved throughout the years.
Batgirl may not have been the world’s first distaff counterpart superheroine, but she was the first one who wasn’t willingly the superhero’s girlfriend/love interest/secret weapon, or any of that. Batgirl was Batgirl because she wanted to be - because she wanted to do the right thing and fight crime. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that, despite having been inspired by the identity of someone else, her role was also one giant middle finger towards the boys club that the Gotham fraternity tried so hard to be. This is especially true for both the Barbara Gordon and the Stephanie Brown incarnations of Batgirl.
But first! A history lesson on Batgirl!
The first Batgirl - technically, Bat-Girl (why that hyphen was there, I do not know) - was Betty Kane, the niece to Kathy Kane - Batwoman. She debuted in 1961, and, along with Batwoman, was mostly created to be one of the love interests for Batman and Robin, to counter rumours by Frederick Wertham that the males were gay. (So, unlike the next one down, perhaps Betty wasn’t created to be a giant middle finger towards the Gotham Boys’ Club. But these were sexist times.)
As befitting those sexist times, Bat-Girl wore a little red dress, with green highlights. This also served to tie her to Robin.
As you can see, there’s nothing really stealthy or secretive about the costume, and really, what crime fighter goes out in a belted dress? But it was a cute enough look for Betty, though I suspect it’s one of the many reasons why she never really got the respect that she deserved, as a hero.
Still, I am a huge fan of the belt with the bat-buckle. Really, the look was really just a feminized version of Robin’s costume, complete with pixie boots and a short cape. You can’t see it here, but Bat-Girl also wore a pair of bracelets that doubled as handcuffs, as did Batwoman.
Accessories that double as practical crimefighting tools? Sold!
In the late 60’s, the campy Batman television series became a hit, and the producers decided they needed another love interest for Batman. (Rumours have it that part of the reason for this was because Catwoman, who had been Batman’s love interest, was now being played by Eartha Kitt, and so the audience wouldn’t accept an African-American love interest for Batman. How true this rumour is or isn’t, I honestly have no clue.) As one version of the story goes, the producers turned to DC Comics for a love interest. For some reason, instead of offering up Batwoman and Bat-Girl, DC went back to the drawing board and came up with Barbara Gordon - Commissioner James Gordon’s daughter - and history, pretty much, was made.
This incarnation of Batgirl was a lot more independent - far stronger than either Batwoman or Bat-Girl were allowed to be. Part of this may have been because of the fact that times and society were changing, so that a strong, more independent character like Barbara would have been more palatable to the audiences. (Of course, in the TV show, all she ever really did was stand on a table and kick the bad guys, but Charlie’s Angels and the Bionic Woman were a ways off, yet.)
As can be seen by the above illustration, this version of Batgirl had a costume that skewed much closer to Batman’s look - it was a far more serious look compared to the little red dress worn by her predecessor. Of course, part of this can be attributed to her origin story, in which she was supposed to be going to a masked party dressed up in a costume inspired by Batman.
Sure, she still rocked the heels and had a Bat-motif running through her costumes - like the boots - but it was a lot more practical a look for a costumed crimefighter. Sure, people took issue with the fact that her hair peeked out of her cowl, but let’s be realistic for a moment here. Batwoman, Catwoman, and Bat-Girl had long since been parading around with their hair out. These were all non-powered women, and given that Barbara was already athletic in her own right, there was no reason why she couldn’t show a little flash of red. Show everyone who she was and all that.
As time went by, there were, of course, some cosmetic changes made to her costume. Sometimes she wore white lenses instead of having cut outs around her eyes, sometimes her costume was black instead of grey, sometimes her belt buckle was an oval instead of a bat-symbol. But beyond that, her costume always stayed essentially the same.
After awhile, Barbara Gordon retired from crime-fighting. It was after this event that she was shot by the Joker, and paralyzed. She ultimately continued on in a new career as Oracle, which is something we will touch upon later in this post.
After Barbara’s being paralyzed, Gotham was left without a Batgirl for a good number of years, though it had no dearth in having a family of female crime-fighters, thanks to Spoiler, Black Canary, and the Huntress.
Eventually, a terrible earthquake hit Gotham City, and the government declared Gotham a “No Man’s Land”, destroying all bridges leading to Gotham in the process, and forbidding people from entering or exiting. During this time, the city suffered from a definite lack of Batman, and so Huntress took it upon herself to take up the guise of Batgirl, much to the ire of Oracle.
The first incarnation of the costume was a far darker version of Barbara’s Batgirl look - all black a black bat-emblem, encircled by a bright yellow oval.
The belt, with it’s pouches, was wider than the older belt, and this, along with the full-black look, would carry over into the new Batgirl look that Helena designs for herself.
The new look was a far darker look, much more urban ninja, I supposed one would say, with a covered mouth and blackened out eyes. The batsymbol also changed, to a thin yellow outline. Perhaps the biggest change in this look was the fact that Batgirl was no longer wearing heels - far, far more practical for crime-fighting, especially when one doesn’t have super-ankles to help balance in them while running. Overall, this was truly the sort of costume that you would not want to run into in a dark alley - certainly a darker, creepier look. For what was going on in Gotham at the time, this was a look that definitely made sense, since they needed a darker, tougher Batgirl.
Eventually, this version of Batgirl was replaced by Cassandra Cain, a mute young woman who was, essentially, a martial arts master. Her first language was reading body language.
Unlike her predecessors, she was still a very different Batgirl as compared to Helena, Barbara, and Betty. Silent, tougher, darker, and with perhaps a slightly more tragic backstory.
This itieration of Batgirl had a nice, long run - and was the first Batgirl to have her own ongoing series. It was certainly a huge step forward for the character.
When Cass took over the Batgirl mantle, she was drawn to be a bit creepier than even Helena had been in the costume, though still very articulate, thanks to her body language. Eventually, due to the invervention of a man she saved, Cass learned how to speak…and had a few more struggles come her way.
For awhile, though, Cassandra also rocked a couple of different looks as Batgirl.
One of these looks was, obviously, inspired by Barbara’s Batgirl look. It was a huge change for Cass, partially because she was also wearing heels with the outfit, something which she found to be not quite as comfortable as she might have liked. The costume also seemed to be an ill-fitting idea for Cass, who was such a dark, quiet character, while the costume itself was brighter, much more befitting Barbara, the woman who was now her mentor.
Another very minor change, but for sometime, Cassandra wore a solid gold bat-symbol. There was never really any reason given for the change, but it was a nice change for awhile.
Eventually, Bruce Wayne died, and Cassandra could no longer find it in herself to go on as Batgirl. There had been a lot of ups and downs in her life - and she’d already temporarily given up being Batgirl for awhile before being mindscrewed by Deathstroke. (Long story)
In any case, Cassandra gave her costume to Stephanie Brown - the Spoiler and a former Robin - and one of Cass’ closest friends.
At the very beginning, Stephanie wore a variation of Cassandra’s suit - only without covering the mouth on her cowl. It was, well, it was literally a hand-me-down that Cassandra had given Stephanie, and it wasn’t at all the sort of costume that Stephanie would normally wear.
See, Stephanie, unlike Cassandra, was a bright, happy character. She signified hope in a very real way, and I could easily see her becoming Gotham’s own guardian as an adult - far more easily than I could envision Cassandra in the role. She was most at home in eggplant - not purple, as she was quick to remind anyone who described her in anything but that specific shade of purple.
The costume only lasted for the first few issues of Stephanie’s incredibly short-lived solo series.
By the end of the first arc, Barbara Gordon gave Stephanie her blessing as Batgirl, and gave her a new look which just screamed Stephanie.
Well, it did if you knew it was Stephanie under the cowl.
Stephanie’s new look as Batgirl consisted of a black (or bluish-black or deep purple, depending on the colourist) costume with eggplant highlights/padding down the side. She wore a yellow belt, along with a shiny golden batsymbol, and kept her blonde hair flowing, much in the way that Barbara had when she was Batgirl. Stephanie also wore her trademark thigh belt, which was a very her thing to do. (Rumour has it that the thigh belt was editorially mandated as a visual cue that this was the erstwhile Spoiler underneath the cape and cowl.) Frankly, it was a fantastic costume - definitely my favourite of all of the Batgirl looks. It had visual cues that took from previous versions of the Batgirl character, but still came together to make a costume that was Stephanie’s own.
Sadly, Stephanie’s tenure was Batgirl was to be short-lived, since last week, DC Comics relaunched with a whole new continuity…in which Barbara Gordon, once again, is Batgirl.
Barbara’s new look consists of elements of her own old looks, as well as elements of Stephanie’s look. (Of course, via the 1960s Batman series, and via The Batman, an animated Batman series, it can be argued that Barbara had the yellow/purple thing down first, but as far as the comics are concerned…she didn’t.)
Barbara’s costume retains the black/gold/purple colour scheme of Stephanie’s costume, though in the design of Barbara’s old look. Some changes, of course, include the fact that there seems to be some padding on Barbara’s costume this time around, giving her some more protection (which you’d want too, if Joker shot you in the spine - - even if you miraculously healed from the wound) and a shinier gold aesthetic than before. It’s a nice look for Barbara Gordon. Which is really, all that I can say about the look without letting personal feelings about this relaunch get in the way.
In regards to yesterday’s Supergirl post…if any of you are interested in seeing more of her pre-Crisis looks (there were PLENTY more then than there were post-Crisis), my friend Steven pointed out Metropolis Plus, which has a great collection of them, along with some really great tidbits of Supergirl history.
At the same time, Maid of Might has some great looks at the post-Crisis Supergirl. Both of them are great sites, and definitely worth checking out.
I have to say, the DCnU is great fodder for discussing new costumes and just all around bad ideas when it comes to costume designing. Now, I get it. Comic book artists are NOT fashion designers. And yes, most of them are men who like drawing scantily-clad women. Possibly because many of them have issues getting laid or what not. I get it, I do. Those poor, poor guys. And of course, next to Wonder Woman, the one female character who many artists - professional and amateur and slashers alike - like to put into compromising positions and costumes is Supergirl. I mean, why not, right? A cute, perky, superpowered blonde in a miniskirt? Why not go to town with that?
(Uh. How about the fact that she’s supposed to be a teenager for starters?)
Then there’s the fact that, not being costume designers, and being for the most part straight men, comic book artists generally have no clue of how fashion works, what’s trendy…what’s not…you know, all of that glitter, sequin, and jazz.
Why am I going on about this? Well, it’s simple, really. For ages now, Supergirl’s costume has been a horrible mix of bad design choices and outdated fashion.
But first, a brief history on the fashion rocked by the Girl of Steel!
Supergirl first appeared in Action Comics #252, in 1959. She was portrayed as this prim, proper, perfect little girl who willingly went to an orphanage when her cousin, Superman, said that he couldn’t have her live with him for some reason or other. She was also perfectly willing to be his secret weapon.
I know, I know. How terribly independent of her.
Anyway, when she first arrived, she wore a prim, proper little belted blue dress, with a red cape, and red boots, reminiscent of her cousin’s costume while still remaining pretty and girly. It was a nice look for her, though why you’d want to put a girl who flies in a miniskirt is beyond me, but that was the decision that they made. Probably to ensure that she was at the height of super-femininity or something. Who knows. (I mean, this is a year away from the 1960s. It’s not like women weren’t already rocking pants.)
As time went on, DC Comics would invite their readers to draw costume designs for Supergirl, and she would sport different looks. The looks became increasingly trendier and hipper as Supergirl moved away from being Superman’s secret weapon into being a young woman in her own right (though evidently never womanly enough to take up the moniker Superwoman. Go figure.)
Some of her looks included hot pants and a plunging v-neck, like the version up top on the left. (Incidentally, this happens to be my favourite of Supergirl’s looks, if only the V-neck wasn’t always so plungingly deep.) Then came the 80s, and the aerobics craze, which lead us to the questionable perm and headband, as well as the pretty cool idea of having her S-shield be attached to her cape, or at least of giving her costume that sort of an illusion. It wasn’t her best look, admittedly, and sadly, that’s the look that she was quite literally caught dead in. (What can I say? Bad fashion choices can do that to you.)
Anyway, history rewrote itself, and we got a new Supergirl - this one who wasn’t Superman’s cousin. (I have a certain fondness for this version of Supergirl, as she is the one who I grew up with.)
She sported what I consider to be the classic Supergirl costume - a nice balance between the original Supergirl look, and some of the ones that came after, which gave her a red skirt instead of the blue. It was a nice, sexy look, but still classy. It was also timeless, which is a look that she would lose once the animated version appeared. Early on, this version of Supergirl sported a handkerchief hemline, though this was later swapped out for a straight hemline that covered a little bit more. Still classic, though, and still classy.
This Supergirl merged with a human girl, gained a soul and angelic powers, and had lots of, well, interesting adventures. (It was actually a great tale about the redemption of humans, both normal and super-, but it never got the credit it deserved, alas.)This basic costume stayed with her from her introduction up until the fiftieth issue of her on-going series. At that point, she split apart from her human host, a girl cheekily named Linda Danvers (the original Supergirl’s Earth-name) and gained a new look.
The look (seen on the right) was based on the look rocked by the new animated Supergirl (as seen on the left.) At the time, I was all for this look. It was new, it was fresh, and it was more her own look than anything based on Superman. Inspired by the Riot Grrrl movement of the early to mid-90s, this was the first look that Supergirl would sport which could be considered outdated, seeing as how she only received the look long after that movement had died down. She sported this look for the last forty-odd issues of her series, before it was cancelled and this version of Supergirl was shunted into this nice place called Limbo.
For a time after this, we received a completely different Supergirl, one claiming to be the daughter of Superman and Lois Lane.
The less said about her the better (despite her brief existence, she managed to somehow be even more convoluted than the Supergirl that preceded her), but I just thought I’d mention her, since we’re doing a brief history of Supergirl.
It was a nice look, though, for a Supergirl who really wasn’t based on any other version of Supergirl in any way. Also note that she didn’t rock an S-shield in the manner of her predecessors, and there was also no yellow. It was a darker look, but it worked for her. Of course, in the tradition of many superheroines, this one wore what was essentially a leotard with boots and a cape, but it was certainly more of a timeless look than the look of the previous Supergirl.
Which brings us to 2004. Introduced by Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner in the second story arc of “Superman/Batman”, this version of Kara Zor-El was essentially a rebooted version of the original Supergirl. Granted, she was portrayed to be stronger than that Supergirl, both in terms of powers and attitude.
Her costume was an interesting one though, a definite mish-mash of some of her predecessors’ looks. Being Superman’s cousin again, of course, meant that she should be in as classic a Supergirl costume as possible. Much like the original Supergirl, both her top and her skirt were now blue again. Much like the Riot Grrrl look sported by Linda Danvers, though, she had a bare-midriff again - one which showed a much longer section of her torso than Linda’s, though. This, of course, led fans - and non-fans - to call the character Super-Torso. Another interesting attribute that her costume was given was the gold trimming on her cape boots, collar, and sleeves. (Originally, as you can see, some of it was meant to be red, but they made it gold to give it more of a cohesive look. A smart idea, if anything.) This little bit of styling, though, called to mind the gold trimming worn by the Marvel family - especially that of Mary Marvel. (Why she never called to get that gold trimming back, I’m not sure, but there you go.) It gave Supergirl a bit of a regal look, which didn’t quite match up with her personality, alas. Sadly, Supergirl was given this look at a time when bare-midriffs weren’t trendy at all, making Supergirl seem like someone who had some rather loose morals. (While not a slut or anything, this Supergirl did have a long list of issues, which took her forever to work out.)
And she finally did seem to get them worked out…
Only to be rebooted again.
Oh, boy. This is just…well. It’s certainly a mish-mash of different looks, isn’t it? The first thing I noticed when I saw this design (and really, there’s so much going on here) was the collar - because no version of Supergirl has quite worn a collar like that. (Granted, collars are the new “in” thing in the DCU. Everyone’s sporting them!) The folds of the collar, though - and the length of the boots, seem inspired by the Ame-Comi version of Supergirl, as seen on the left. Supergirl also seems to have retained the gold trim which she’s been sporting for the past few years.
For some reason that I cannot fathom, she has long boots, though her knees are kept open. Are knee-windows the new boob window? I don’t know. I can only assume that Kryptonians didn’t possess the technology to make boots which bent at the knee, or that the knees are quite the erogenous zone for Kryptonians, and so she’s kept them open, for all the world to see and admire. They’re just…bizarre. Clearly, it’s to point out that Supergirl is from an alien culture, but I can’t imagine any alien culture would think that THOSE are cute.
Then I noticed her hairstyle. That style that’s she sporting is called the asymmetrical bob. It was a look that was very, very fashionable. You know, back in 2007, back when Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice, rocked it? This version of Supergirl hasn’t even debuted yet, and already her hairstyle is just…not in. I don’t care if she’s an alien…at least give her a somewhat fashionable look - or just generic superheroine hair…but not a look that most artists are going to have an issue drawing, or a look that’s just laughably outdated.
I will say that I like she S-shield. It’s not the classic shield that every Supergirl (with the exception of Cir-El) has rocked. It’s a harder edged S, somewhat reminiscent of a lightning bolt, and one that doesn’t touch all the edges of the pentagon, the way the previous design did. It makes sense for the character, who this time around is being written as someone who is not all too fond of humanity - or her cousin - if the little blurbs given in the solicitations are to be believed.
The rest of her costume seems to be made out of armour, which is another big thing with the superheroes of the DCnU, it seems.
But, my biggest issue with the costume is…well. Look at the design around her crotch area. That little red patch? Now, the miniskirts that Supergirl has rocked have, you know, been alright. Sometimes, they were little longer than belts, but of late, she’s been drawn wearing red bicycle shorts underneath them. Classy, right?
Not so this Supergirl. As evidenced in the picture to the left, and better seen in the ginormous pic above, the artists have seen it fit to give Supergirl a huge, geometric red heart-shaped design right over her crotch. Sure, it’s meant to evoke the red shorts and skirts of yore, but the design is just, well, suggestive of something else entirely. And the way it’s cut up high on the sides is also ridiculous, and so very 90s-era thong. It isn’t at all a sexy or classy look for Supergirl, and I can’t fathom why they would decide to give her such a look down there. I mean, what exactly is she trying to say with that look? (Granted, I have some ideas…) And, worst of all, the gold trim above it, with the baby S-shield, acts like a little light-up sign around that area. LOOK HERE!, it practically screams, almost as though Supergirl craves that sort of attention.
There are some elements here that really work for the costume - the collar isn’t bad looking, though I’m sure that there are artists who will get it terribly wrong - and the S-shield is cute…but the boots, the hairstyle, and that heart-shaped crotch thing? Why, DC, why? Which artist of yours thought THAT was a good look? And who was moronic enough to approve that sort of look on a character who’s supposed to be a teenager? Make her a “bad girl”, that’s fine. Give her an attitude. But at least let her he sexy in a classy way, instead of…well. That.
With the DCnU looming, and October solicits coming up, we’re getting a better look at some of the looks that the women of the DCnU are going to be sporting, as well as some very interesting changes.
First up, of course, is Wonder Woman.
After a year of being stuck in a pair of horrible black pants (if they could even be called pants and not leggings or tights…) it looks as though DCnU-Diana will once again be sporting boyshorts. (I’m hoping they don’t dangerously veer into thong territory again.) It’s an interesting move, one that I think was brought upon by the backlash in regards to the costume made for her failed television pilot, and perhaps even in regards to the fact that the redesign was reviled by most people who were long-time fans of the character. There’s something about Diana that just doesn’t seem right with her wearing pants when she’s in costume. At least, that’s how I feel.
In any case, though, there are still some things that I feel are wrong with the costume. For one thing, the colour scheme just reads wrong to me. Black, red, and silver? Haven’t those colours almost always been more of Donna Troy’s colours? The arm band, also, reads as being more of a Donna-thing than a Diana-thing, possibly since Donna’s rocked those since she returned in 2005. The choker, also, seems very un-Diana. I understand that it’s part of DC’s whole collar-theme thing, but still. It’s not classy or warrior-like. Also, it’s still another Donna thing…and on Donna, the collar didn’t look as bizarre as it does on Diana. Possibly because ever since debuting her first red jumpsuit, Donna had almost always worn a necklace of some sort.
I find the boots of Diana’s new look interesting, if only because they recall her old duckbill boots in terms of silhouette, as well as the boots that Queen Hippolyta wore when she took on the mantle of Wonder Woman during Byrne’s run.
Granted, Hippolyta was supposed to take the place of the Golden Age Wonder Woman, but that’s another story.
Star Sapphire, a longtime Green Lantern villainess (and now colleague) who more often than not has been hosted by Carol Ferris has had a bevy of bad costumes throughout her career in comics. There was the air stewardess look, the Lady Galactus look, and the organic stripper look.
(To be honest, as horrendous as it is, I have always dug the Galactus-inspired outfit. I’m not sure why. It truly is a monstrosity.)
Which brings us to today, when they released the cover for Green Lantern: New Guardians #2.
Now, I’m going to be honest. I don’t rightly know whether or not this is Carol Ferris sporting the costume, especially since there’s an entire ring-wielding Corps of Star Sapphires now. Regardless, though, I have to say that this is a pretty great new look for Star Sapphire. Yeah, it’s a bit boobtastic, and I wish that could be changed, but at least it covers up more on top than her previous look. Not a whole lot more, but look! Her entire abdomen is covered now! Also, the starburst crotch seems to have been replaced by a starburst across her midsection, would seems to be another improvement. The whole look is certainly a whole lot more superheroic than her last few looks have been. I’m not sure why there’s a thigh belt around her thigh, since it serves no purpose for someone whose powers extend from a ring, but I’m assuming its part of Johns and Lee’s 90’s revival. (Which, really guys? I know the early 90s were twenty years ago, but too soon! Too soon!) I also like that the tiara is just a plain tiara now. A starburst design may have been overkill there, and since the Star Sapphire itself no longer lodges itself into the heads of the women, there’s really no reason for there to be a huge glowing rock there, anyway.
Overall, though, I have to say that this is a costume design that I dig.
Starfire, for those not in the know, is an alien princess from a culture where they don’t quite understand things like American modesty. Ergo, she’s not really one who tends to cover up a lot of her body, all things considered, which, you know, she’s an alien princess. That’s usually their schtick. Dejah Thoris, anyone?
In any case, Starfire’s costumes have usually had some skin-showing. While usually, her costume’s been a glorified metal bathing suit, there have been other times that her costume has covered more up.
Both of these looks have really worked well for Starfire, and while they both remained sexy, neither of the looks really seemed all that inappropriate for the superheroine, when taking into consideration who she was, and where she was from.
Which brings us back to the DCnU, and Starfire’s new look.
Okay, I know, she’s from an alien culture. Their style and their fashion is usually different. But come on, DC. Huge metal shoulders (presumably with some shoulder padding going on there), and a pair of alien bra-pasties? REALLY? On one hand, I really want to like it, but on the other hand, I can just see now how some of comics’ more cheesecake artists are going to take the boob-boosting pasties and make them smaller and thinner. (That is, after all, how boyshorts morphed into thongs on Wonder Woman, Black Canary, and Zatanna.) On the other hand, I have to applaud the costume designer for making sure that Kory had some structural support so that she didn’t sag. Clearly, he tried to put some thought into how breasts work.
The bottom half of the costume is pretty much classic Starfire in terms of design and looks, all the way down to the giant red gem thing on her crotch. (Which begs the question, between some of Star Sapphire’s looks and Starfire’s looks, what is it with DC costume designers and putting things designs or gems on women’s crotches? Even Supergirl’s new look, which I will cover later, has a similar issue.)
Superhero fashion - if, indeed, the word fashion can be applied to the costumes made out of spandex, leather, and who knows what else that superheroes wear - is known for being bright, fun, and sometimes quirky. It comes, I dare say, with the job of being a superhero. It shows the people being saved - and the people who are being served a hot, steaming plate of tasty justice - that the superhero is there to save the day. And you know, that’s great for most superheroes. Especially the ones with superpowers.
But then, there are the badass normals, the superheroes who don’t have powers, but who kick-ass just as well. Most of the heroes of Gotham City fall under this archetype of superheroes. Everyone from the core Batfamily, to the ones on the margins such as Huntress. And sure, some of their costumes are impractical. Huntress, for example, sports hot pants and a bare-midriff, presumably during the warmer nights in Gotham City. Catwoman sometimes zips her catsuit down to there. Almost all of Gotham’s heroes wear capes. It’s all fine and dandy.
But then I saw the solicits for Batwing #2, and I have to say, my eyes - they boggled.
Why? Well. Let me show you a picture.
Now, I haven’t really been keeping up with the Batman universe of late, with the exception of Bryan Q. Miller’s excellently written Batgirl series (which is ending all too soon, unfortunately), so I don’t really know all that much of what Batwing’s backstory is, other than he appeared in Batman, Inc #5.
But, seriously, what is with his headgear? The domino mask plus the pointy bat ears? From what angle is that possibly a smart design idea? I mean, okay, so just wearing a domino mask probably isn’t the best sort of protection for your head, which is why, with the current exception of Robin (and Huntress), most of the Batfamily has their heads covered. Even Batwoman’s wearing a wig - one which I hope is reinforced with something to protect her head. And you know what, it’s comics, so fine, suspension of disbelief. But this design just seems like an invitation for anyone to brain Batwing in the head, right between the pointy bat ears. I mean, just look at that pictures. It practically screams “Split my head in half like a coconut with a weapon of your choosing!” Joker, in particular, would love to take a crowbar to such an open, obvious, inviting spot, I’m sure.
Even the similarly named Blackwing from the early 1980s, who sported a similar look, had his head covered, and he wasn’t even a part of any Batman, Inc. (Not that it would have existed then, since Batman was dead and his daughter Huntress had taken up the cape and cowl, but still.)
(And I bring this comparison up because I can’t help but believe that Batwing was in some way inspired by Blackwing. They’re both African-American male characters dressed in vaguely similar looks inspired by Batman. And their names have a similiar B-Wing theme going on there. Granted, their secret identities are different, but still. Morrison knows his Bat-mythology, somewhat.)
It’s just a terrible idea for a mask, and I hope that someone designs it into something less ridiculous looking soon.