Recently, comics have started to become popular again–Marvel is everywhere, DC is as well, and with the rising popularity of smaller comics like Lumberjanes and … other indie comics (can you tell I don’t read a lot of indie stuff), as well as TV shows (The Flash (CW), Agent Carter, Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, etc.), liking superheroes and comic books unironically is becoming pretty popular.
Which is why I think it’s time I talk about something that gets really irritating: Comic costume designs.
Specifically, the women of comics’ costume designs. (Don’t even get me started on Wonder Woman yet.)
Take Sue Storm, for example. Why would this version of Sue’s costume possibly be practical in any way? I mean the boob window in the shape of a 4 alone… No armor, no weapon holsters of any kind–yeah, I get that she can turn invisible, but that doesn’t make her invincible. One bullet aimed in her general area is going to take her out, full stop. Knives? Hell yeah. Hand-to-hand? You bet your ass.
Which is why I’m really happy that her usual costume is more of a full-coverage bodysuit. It’s clingy, yes, but it’s a bodysuit, man. You can’t have a saggy one, that’ll just make it easier for people to grab ahold of you.
(Though really, that boob window is seriously bothering me. How is it physically possible for the 4 to not be all stretched and distorted while she’s wearing that?)
And it’s not just a few superheroes that sport impractical ‘outfits’.
- Boob window.
- Hair that is not tied back and will definitely go flying everywhere and flick you in the eye at the worst time. If you have long hair, you know this struggle.
- Heeled boots (???) I mean, if you want to break your ankles before you throw a punch, go right ahead.
- Nothing shielding ribs/back/hips/thighs from damage.
- Probably living with a double-sided wedgie full-time.
- Why did someone approve this outfit. Why did multiple someones approve this outfit.
- Boob window.
- Thighs and hips exposed.
- Also heeled boots (though at least they’re platforms so they won’t snap??)
- Hair might still be an issue?
Also, I love how even though Power Girl and her foe (Terra?) are fighting, they still need to look sexualized for the audience. Power Girl, do you still have a working spine? Are you okay?
And one thing on boob windows with flying superheroes: When heroes fly, it’s usually in the traditional “Superman” way; horizontal to the ground, headfirst. But when you add in a boob window, suddenly there’s space for air to get in. And through. Um, ow? Plus, if your suit wasn’t made of good enough quality fabric, going too fast might make the entire front of your suit rip open. Why.
Thankfully, Power Girl’s boob window was redesigned in 2012, and she now has a much better-looking outfit. And she’s a PoC!
Still, I’ve met fans that believe that boob windows, stiletto boots, and bikinis on female superheroes are all things of the past. They aren’t. Take a look at Gamora, of Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
Boob window. Aka the perfect handle for a baddie to grab and pull someone into a punch, or to stab through your chest. I mean, Gamora’s generally badass, but the boob window is really impractical for someone who’s basically a mercenary.
I believe I mentioned the back-breaking (literally) positions that female heroes are often placed in (Power Girl/Terra cover), and this is where that comes in again.
A group of artists decided to come together a few years ago to show off how ludicrous some female hero art really is, in response to this quote: “How to fix every Strong Female Character pose in superhero comics: replace the character with Hawkeye doing the same thing.” –Gingerhaze . And this project was called the Hawkeye Initiative.
The Hawkeye Initiative basically redraws art of female superheroes using male heroes so the extent of the ridiculousness that exists is truly visible. Here’re some submissions:
There are even cosplayers who do poses modeled after the Hawkeye Initiative:
So you should totally go check the site out. It’s definitely worth it.