A Comic Book Entry – Shout it from the Rooftop: Super-costumes

Being that I am a luddite and always behind on everything cool and hip, I just was alerted to the existence of a website called “Project Rooftop,” which primarily concerns redesigns of superhero costumes.  After browsing through the archives my thought was, “Why the HELL do I have to put up with lousy costumes?”  Not all of the proposed costumes were winners, but I understood what the artist was trying to do and I appreciated the effort.  Throwing piping on a costume just isn’t sufficient to make a unique or interesting look.

I also got to look at a lot of different artistic styles compared side-by-side and this has been enormously helpful in my analysis of superhero costumes.  There are some that I took for granted could never be anything but ridiculous or pure fanservice but I realized that is not true.  The same basic design can look very different in the hands of different artists.  This entry concerns Power Girl and her many costumes and how the artist’s interpretation of the costume/character can dramatic change the dynamic.  Also, please understand I am not an expert on Power Girl, but I think my amalgam represents her well enough for this discussion.  Also, to give credit where credit is due, most of the images were taken from the DC Wiki Gallery for Power Girl.  Other files credited separately.

I’ll start with Power Girl because I feel her costume, particularly the boob-window, is very problematic (as noted here).  She’s an alternate dimensional Supergirl and is supposed to be a more confident and powerful character than Supergirl, although still clearly a teenager.  Her first appearance had the boob-window and efforts to close it up have proven short-lived.  She’s supposed to be an in-your-face type and the sad fact is her bosom has become the most in-your-face element of her rather than her confident personality.  Like or not, that damn boob-window seems to have become an iconic part of her costume.  That said, there are some designs that I think could replace the boob-window.  And that said, I think there are some artists who actually make the boob-window work.

By the way, here’s a brief summary of Power Girl’s costumes.

Most, as you can see, have a variation on the boob window.  I’m going to focus on the Kryptonian costumes rather than the Atlantean ones (don’t ask) as I think that will be sufficient to get my point across.

I know many people really loved this take on Power Girl, but I really don’t.

Power Girl Vol. 2, #1

I know it was supposed to be mocking the boob window, but this is the sort of satire that many people won’t pick up on (like Lobo).

Rather unfortunately, I think too many artists believe Power Girl is the Ms. Fanservice of the DC universe.  And you get stuff like this.

Courtesy ComicsAlliance.

I should also remind the readers Power Girl is a teenager.

So when can the boob window work?  Really, the artist just needs to show some restraint:

JSA #39

It’s not impossible to resist the urge to turn her into Ms. Fanservice:

Wonder Woman Vol. 3, #4

Her boobs are big here, but she still exudes confidence.  My personal favorite take on the boob window is this one:

JSA Vol. 3, #9

I like this because Power Girl is actually distinctly muscled.  The whole look of the costume and panel emphasizing the key characteristic of Power Girl – power.  This costume says, “I am powerful.”  Heck, even in this one:

JSA #50

the boob window is larger, but the rest of the drawing still states clearly, “Power Girl is about to kick some ass!”  If all artists handled the boob window like this, I wouldn’t ever complain.

But Power Girl has gone through a series of costumes and not all had a boob window.  Here’s one with just a wide, open round neck:

Secret Origins Vol. 2, #11

Her boobs are also not enormous.  Do I like it?  Eh, not so much because while she looks angry, she doesn’t look very powerful.  She kind of pouty.  This one is a bit better:

Showcase #98

She’s drawn with a bit more muscle, although I’m still not a fan of this look. And then there’s some serious sexing up of the look here:

Showcase #97

She is muscled, true, but the way the neckline hugs the breasts just doesn’t work for me.  The neckline belongs on a nice dress, not a super-costume.  And her expression is still more pouty than properly angry.  So, not bad, but not great.

As for non-boob window looks?  Well, this one from Justice League Europe is just awful, and I don’t mean the art and her expression (although I’m not really keen on that either).

Flash Vol. 2, #59

The yellow and white color scheme has nothing to do with her Kryptonian/Earth-2 heritage and makes her look like a completely different character.  And then there’s one of the New 52 designs that I really do not like:

Comicvine.com

The emblem over her breast is just strange.  There’s nothing to break up the stark white of the bottom 2/3, not even a pair of boots.  And the rest of the art makes her look toned, I guess, but not powerful.  This doesn’t work.  But the other New 52 design is better:

Comicvine.com

I think it could use the red belt to break up the white, but at least she’s got boots, and she’s still not drawn as muscled as I think she should be, but I like the new logo and I like the bare arms.  If she were more muscled, I think this would have more of an impact though.  Overall, a decent attempt to improve the costume and remove the boob window, but it’s not great.  In fact, the New 52 designs were so disliked that soon the boob window was back in all its glory:

toplessrobot.com

She’s too thin, but her expression is good, and if current/future artists are careful, it can indeed work out.

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awritershailmarypass

S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

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