Thursday, May 12, 2011

Part Thirteen: Flyboys

Doug: Winged Wonder day, friends. Just how much sartorial splendor can you have when you're flying the friendly skies? We shall see...

Doug: First up is Hawkman. I've always been a little curious -- if Thanagar is some advanced scientific society, then why did ol' Katar (oops -- excuse me. We need to be old school: Carter) dress like a barbarian? Fully exposed man-breasts? C'mon... You don't think it would get a bit drafty every now and again? But seriously -- I've always liked the Hawkman costume. Impractical, yes, but cool looking. But then, I'm generally a sucker for winged characters and giants. Even though I've never been a big fan of red and green together (outside of Christmastime, of course) I do believe that this works. Maybe it's the presence of the yellow or the gray of the wings. I think it's generally a good superhero suit. And the "helmet" -- yep, they always call it a helmet instead of a mask. I like the over-the-eyes version, as opposed to the older on-the-forehead version.

Doug: As a variation, there's also the cowled version of basically the same suit. You might also note the yellow piping on the boots -- to me it's somewhat akin to the white piping on Wonder Woman's red boots. I guess I don't find it necessary -- in fact, looking at the image at right, I would say that it makes the costume a little too busy. If my memory serves, it's the masked version of Hawkman that I first encountered as a waif, in the pages of the All-Star Comics revival. I know I had an earlier JLA, but I just don't remember Hawkman being in it.

Doug: I know there are plenty of haters toward all of the DC reboots that came after Crisis on Infinite Earths. I for one felt that they ably carried the momentum of change forward. The 1989 Hawkworld mini-series was a solid re-imagining of the Hawks' mythos, as DC really sought to "Marvelize" their stable of characters. Hawkworld certainly made Katar and Shayera dysfuntional characters! Although the image at left shows the basic Hawkman costume, the series was "teched up" and featured less skin than previous versions of the character.

Doug: Shifting over to the Marvel Universe, let's check out Warren Worthington III, the Avenging Angel. This dude's had a few outfits over the years, with some hits and some definite misses! To begin, we see him at right in his Xavier school uniform, the same basic design as was worn by all of the young mutants. It's pretty basic, OK I guess -- and hey, what do you think about the color scheme -- black and yellow or navy blue and yellow? I prefer to think of it as having navy blue, but I've seen it colored as black, and some artist commentary that supports that notion. A comment on the first two panels -- did I ever for a second believe that those wings actually fit inside the coveralls and then were not noticeable? Uh uh, I did not.

Doug: The Jim Steranko-era of X-Men furthered the adventures of the team in their post-graduation outfits. What do you think of this one? The "suspenders" give the illusion that the wings are fake. I also think the mask resembles Marvel Girl's a bit too much. Overall I'll say that it's a colorful get-up, but I'm not too keen on it. I did, however, like that all of the teammates unified their look to a degree with those big honkin' belt buckles that said "X".

Doug: Uh, no. This monstrosity hails from the latter part of the Neal Adams run. The yellow trunks seem out of place, and the shades of red and blue don't seem to work very well together. Too dark for each, in my opinion. I do notice the trend that the mask from here on out is open on the top to feature Warren's wavy blond locks. That's OK -- doesn't bother me. I don't know the artist of this particular image, obviously drawn in today's animation style, but the boots sure seem clunky.

Doug: Blue version as pictured, or the red version as first seen in The Champions? I do believe it was the red version that I saw first, so I've always tended to think of that as "natural"; this blue suit seems instead "nostalgic" to me. But whether blue or red, this costume has a sort-of bird look to it, with the white "underbelly" against the darker back. The cowl (if that's what we should call it) is a bit odd, however -- what would be necessary to get the points on the cheekbones to stay in place? Wearing tape on one's face all day couldn't be comfortable... The large halo is a nice touch as well.

Doug: And speaking of the Champions, here's the suit in which Warren first appeared in that title. Hmmm... Seems to have been ripped right out of Olivia Newton-John's Physical video, which doesn't make sense as that was almost a decade later. But where to begin on this disaster? The headband? Not a fan. The big chest reveal? Uh uh. The yellow on the arms and legs? Nope. I don't know who designed this (or who would even want to take credit), but it wasn't a finer effort, that's for sure! But I still, like many of you, liked that book.

Doug: Lastly, we come to the Archangel get-up, and if you ask my opinion, that's what I think it is. Not a fan at all. I didn't like the storyline, and I thought it was overall a setback for the character rather than a moving forward. This was the end of the line for me with X-Factor, and my interest in all things "X" waned shortly thereafter. I don't like the color scheme here, and I especially didn't like the complexity of the wings. Now, in fairness, do I think it was an able representation of Warren Worthington as the Horseman known as Death? Yes -- the costume is well-imagined for the role he played. I just didn't care for the storyline and the fall-out for the character.


dbutler16 said...

I love the red/green/yellow color combination (yes, you do need the yellow in there) in fact, my favorite Wonder Man costume is his red/green/yellow one he wore shortly after being resurrected.

Hawkworld may have been great, but Hawkman has one of the most convoluted and confusing histories of any DC character, and that's really saying something!

By the way, I love Angel's blue costume (worn in the last days of the X-Men's original run). In fact, it's one of my all time favorite superhero costumes. Not only is it cool looking, but it matches the character's powers and name wonderfully.

dbutler16 said...

Oh, by the way, Doug, I do remember reading an editor response in the letters page of an early X-Men issue (somewhere in the first 20 issues) where it was stated that the X-Men's original costumes were black and yellow, but they colored them navy blue because all black wouldn't look very good.
I also agree with you on the Sternako outfit. I like the bold colors, but overall, it just doesn't work for me.

Also, didn't the Neal Adams Avenging Angel costume first appear in a backup story about Angel's origin, during that time, in about the # 50's or so, where they were running X-Men origin backup stories? So, I'm not sure I'd blame Adams for that one.

As I said in my last post, really love the white & blue. The blue & white colors match what a winger wonder should wear, also somewhat effective camouflage, and the halo makes sense, because he's the Angel, duh!

Yes, the Champions outfit is sorta bad, but it's so 70's that I still love it!

Finally, I hate the whole archangel thing. Maybe this is the marker for the end of the Bronze Age. Everybody had to be powered up, and "darker", with an "edge". No thanks.

Anonymous said...

Don’t think you’ll get much disagreement on this one. Angel’s best cossy is definitely the blue or red with the white ‘plumage’ (“plumage? Plumage don’t enter into it!”). I preferred the blue (just preferred the colour) although the red suited his blonde locks.

I really like it when costumes are not like normal clothes. That centreline on Angel’s costume with the blue/red surrounding turns his costume into a single garment which is segmented vertically by colour rather than horizontally by different clothing (i.e. trousers/skirt, shirt/jumper always divided at the waist, like just plain folks).

One of my all time favourite costumes, for similar reasons, is the Goliath costume that Wanda created for Hank in #28 (though I much prefer JB’s more fluid rendition of it to Kirby or Heck).


J.A. Morris said...

A friend had early back issues of 'Hawkman' and 'Brave And The Bold' from the 1960s, my first exposure to the character. So the first costume will always be my favorite.

As for Angel, I'm going with the blue and white cowled costume(or red and white,either works). He had one other costume before Archangel. From the early days of X-factor, an inferior variation on the red cowl costume:

But I'm with Karen, never liked Angel. From the time I was a kid, I thought his powers were boring and he's a stuck up rich kid. He's uninteresting, unlikeable and unsympathetic(Triple-U!).

Edo Bosnar said...

Liked Angel's 'blue halo' (& its red variant) the best - in fact, that nice looking costume is probably the only reason I kind of like Angel. Otherwise, I agree he's kind of useless.
As for Hawkman, I really liked the glossy helmet for the Earth-2 Hawkman that sometimes appeared in the late 70s/early 80s (probably a Joe Staton redesign?) It looks like something I wouldn't mind wearing myself (for Halloween at least...)

Dougie said...

The Angel's blue and white look is one of the most elegant costumes any hero ever wore. I have a fondness for the headband look of the mid-70s, though.
I understand why many posters think Warren is useless. But when Shooter wrote that strange Ghost Rider/Angel issue of Avengers, I hoped Warren was being groomed for membership in the Assemblers.
I love the look of the Murphy Anderson Hawkman- that blend of ancient and super-scientific. I like the character more than Atom, Aquaman or the overrated Green Lantern. But where's the love for Hawkgirl? She's the real Winged Wonder.

Anonymous said...

I prefer Warren's blue and white outfit--the exact colors a hero of the sky should wear.

I must also say he and the Beast were the only mutants whose powers made sense to me as a kid. Why should Cyclops be able to shoot beams from his eyes? Or Iceman make ice? And what kind of genetic adaption allows powers like that, anyway? But it's easy to see how Angel flies--he has wings. And the Beast is strong and agile because he's apelike. And there might very well be suppressed parts of our genetic code from far in our species history that could be unlocked and allow somebody to grow wings or have ape-like powers while retaining human intelligence.


Inkstained Wretch said...

Winged characters present a conundrum in comics, especially if the wings are their main attribute.

On the one hand they can be visually striking, leading to great covers and splash pages.

On the other hand the power of flight is so devalued in superhero comics it is hard to see what they bring to the table. You might as well put them in the Batman category of non-powered types.

Of the two, Hawkman was more interesting because he was at least presented as a tough guy. I mean, nice guys don't keep maces handy, do they?

As to the visual look of his cosume ... Well, I wondered if, when he was in his civilian identity, his fellow teammates said: "Hey, didn't recognize you with your clothes on!"

Of the two versions of Hawkman I like the Golden Age one the best, mostly because the whole reincarnation/magic explanation for the wings seemed to make more sense than the Silver Age's he's-from-a-planet-in-outer-space-where-they-just-happen-to-have-hawks-just-like-earth's-AND-despite-their-highly-advanced-technology-he's-going-to-use-a-mace-instead-of-a-raygun explanation.

I much preferred the way they handled it in the Justice League TV Series: Thanagarians have wings growing out of their backs, period. It's so much simpler.

I never much cared for Angel. He seemed even less useful than Hawkman. I remember reading in Marvel Universe that he had hollow bones (!) like most birds. I remember thinking, "Well, not only can he do much but his bones would break like pretezels if he did get into a fight."

Having said that, I vote for the late-Neal Adams period costumes, either blue or red, though blue seems best. The original X-Man costume is too plain and the other costumes are just too dorky for words.

starfoxxx said...

I always liked the 80s red and white w/ the halo symbol (the Marvel Legends costume), the one I grew up with (he was in the Defenders at the time). I liked the weird "mask" headpiece thing---it was a distinct look--I can think of only Devil-Slayer with a similar cut-out around the face.

This costume looked cool mixed with the X-men. As lame as his powers were, I liked Angel w/the X-men. He just looked good on a Bryne cover.

I also like the red costume when he was in the Defenders. He was red, Beast was blue, Iceman/white, Moondragon/green,Gargoyle/orange...they looked so cool on the covers--the interior stuff was crap.

And I LOVE the halo symbol. Symbols were a very "subconscious" thing I love about comics. Sure, DC was chock full of them (I love Hawkman's, too).....but as a kid I liked the chest symbols....Black Knight, Capt. Marvel II, Starfox, Havok. You could identify them by their symbol, much like a football helmet...and don't get me started on my love of the history of NFL and NHL uniforms....

The chest symbol theme might make an interesting blog, if it hasn't been done already. Lot's of Avengers had them, not many X-men ,though.

Dougie said...

My original post read something like this: The blue/white Angel costume is one of the most memorable and elegant in the Marvel U. I didn't realise how ridiculous the headband outfit was as a kid. He looked like a Hercules tribute act. I hoped Shooter was going to put Angel in the Avengers when Hank was on the downward spiral in the early 80s.
But no love for Hawkgirl? One of the best things about the Timm League and a smart move by Englehart. A fiery redhead with a big mace!

C. A. S. said...

The navy blue/white costume that Magneto outfitted Warren with in X-Men Vol. 1 #62 is my favorite. The "Jon Sable"-esque mask/headpiece is fascinating, especially when part of it extends to the bridge of Warren's nose which, IMHO, looks like a bird's beak.

The halo symbol looks cool, and for a short time, he also wore black boots, the kind that aviators wore in the early part of the 20th Century.

I agree with starfoxxx; John Byrne illustrates a great looking Angel!

Edo Bosnar said...

Hmmm, I think in my original post I mentioned I liked Angel primarily because he looks good in that blue or red "halo" suit. Otherwise, he's frankly pretty useless.
As for Hawkman, I like that gold helmet the Earth 2 guy wore - the gold one with the hawk silhouette on the forehead (which I think Joe Staton designed). Almost as cool as Dr. Fate's helmet...

Dougie said...

Edo :Simonson designed a very similar-looking helmet for Dr. Fate's First Issue Special in 1975 (curently winging it's way to em from ebay after nearly four decades!)

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