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Monday, 3 September 2012


An illustration I did for an article I wrote for The Big Glasgow Comic Page about costumes and 'realism' in superhero comics which went a little something like this................

I’m almost certain that in 2010 the head honchos of DC comics gathered together in a place not unlike Dr. Strangelove’s war room, huddled around a large dimly lit oval table, stared intensely at the documents in front of them outlining the ailing sales figures for monthly comic books, then with fists clenched the shadowy figure at the head of the table leaned forward and laid out the companies number one priority, ‘Get rid of Superman’s trunks’ and so was born the New (?) 52.

I’m sure there was more to it, there’s no way the entire DC universe would be dismantled for something so ridiculous, surly not, although they did let the much derided Rob Leifeild work on not one but 4 of the New (?) 52, so anything is possible.

And so it happened and the Man of Steel was striped of his infamous red underwear and in a double whammy of comic ‘realism’ his red and blue costume was replaced with red and blue body armor, and when the fan-boys giddy with excitement at this bold stroke of realism held over their disposable incomes DC had achieved what it had failed time and time again to do in the past Superman was finally DARK…and…GRITTY. (Just in time for his dark and gritty return to the big screen but again I’m sure this is just a coincidence)

At a time when the contradictory trend for ‘realism’ in superhero comics trundles into its 3rd decade (if you take Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns as it’s starting point) the short hand for this tiresome obsession remains simply to give characters a change of wardrobe, out goes the simple spandex body stocking and in comes bulky overly designed Kevlar.

During the 90’s almost every iconic superhero at one time or another was given the armored treatment Spider-Man, Batman (Azbats), Captain America, Daredevil to name a few, all where thankfully short lived but when Image Comics established itself as comics third super power, armored superheroes where almost company policy.
Shoulder pads, shin guards, knuckle dusters and multi pouched utility belts (thank you Mr. Liefeild) all became necessary adornments in the ultra violent ‘realism’ these crime fighters inhabited because it’s important everyone who fights crime no matter what their super powers, be armored suited and bovver booted for the occasion, well almost everyone.

Obviously the fan-boys want for gritty 'realistic superheroes'(?) doesn’t stretch to the many lady crime fighters where life saving bullet proof vests and protective padding are sacrificed in the name of tits and ass. There are of course exceptions, Batgirl and Bat-Woman are suitably covered up and even Powergirl has been given a costume that covers her trade mark basket ball cleavage (I’m sure this will be ‘fixed’ sooner rather than later) but when it comes to the icons the old rules still apply.

The Justice League, in classic style was re-launched with a line up that included all of DC’s big names: Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman, all armored up and ready to fight the good fight. The bionically enhanced Cyborg now looks more half man half transformer and of course even the indestructible Superman is now redundantly armored but when it comes to Wonder Woman it seems hot pants, go-go boots and an ill fitting corset is all a girl needs to fight the forces of evil. And in the promotional images for the forth coming Justice League of America it seems all that’s needed to up date Catwoman’s already perfect duds is to unzip it just enough to show a little more…realism.

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