Wednesday, January 14, 2015

BAB Firsts (the 1st Dressed for Success): Part One: Do Real Men Wear Pink?

 This post was originally published on September 4 2009

 Doug: Hey, it's our inaugural look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of superhero suits. Karen's been wanting to do this, but since she's out of town on vacation, I'll get it started. Most of these folks, bulging in all the right places, look good in their longjohns. But, what about the longjohns themselves? Hmmm... not always a good situation, to say the least.

Doug: We kick it off with the leader of one of our favorite groups, the Legion of Super-Heroes -- Cosmic Boy! What do you look for in a leader? Someone who can play diplomat, someone who's tough? How about a guy who can delegate tasks, or who isn't afraid to admit when he's wrong? A fellow who is the first into battle, and the last to leave, making sure that all of his charges have made it out safely? I'd like a man who can handle the simple jobs, like inventory of resources, but also make the really difficult decisions. And it shouldn't matter that he actually looks good in pink...

Doug: It's interesting that when the creators of Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958, whether writer Otto Binder, cover artist Curt Swan, or interior artist Al Plastino) sat down to dream up the Legion of Super-Heroes that would torment our young hero Superboy, they chose some pretty odd color combinations for these three new antagonists. Saturn Girl originally wore a yellow top accented with black over a green skirt, Lightning Boy (-Lad by their next appearance, in Adventure Comics #267) wore a red shirt with yellow sleeves over green trousers, and then there was Cosmic Boy -- a pink top with a sort-of black vest around it, over lavender trousers. By that second appearance, Saturn Girl was dressed in her familiar red/white pantsuit and Lightning Lad was in his blue/black/auburn outfit. But ol' Cos -- he got to stay in the pink and black.

Karen: Those original costumes the trinity wore were just hideous. I don't know who chose the color schemes but they should have been shot. Fortunately Lightning Lad soon got a much better costume (and an even better one when Cockrum began drawing the book), and Saturn Girl had at least an acceptable outfit, color-wise. But Cosmic Boy really got screwed over. The whole outfit is just, well, dorky.

Doug: The next major costume change for Mr. Rokk Krinn didn't occur until 1974 as a continuation of the major renovations of then-new Legion artist Dave Cockrum. Gone would be the pink, as well as most of the rest of his clothes!!

Karen: We can blame artist Mike Grell for this one. He mentions in an article in Back Issue 33 (April 2009) that Cockrum had revised so many costumes, that he felt that Cosmic Boy looked out of place in his old one. He wanted to keep him recognizable so he kept the black part of the costume, and replaced the rest with flesh - not realizing that he had essentially given Cos a bustier! I always thought he looked like a male stripper in this outfit!

Doug: Keith Giffen, along with author Paul Levitz, were the next to take a crack at redesigning the look of Cosmic Boy. After the Crisis, DC wanted to revamp several key titles, giving us Frank Miller's Batman: Year One, John Byrne's Man of Steel, and George Perez's take on Wonder Woman in a series renumbered to a new first issue. One of the major players in Legends, the mini-series that would re-launch characters not in the above books, was Cosmic Boy. In fact, he was not only one of the supporting stars there, but he was featured concurrently in his own mini-series, titled simply Cosmic Boy. So, what did Levitz, Giffen, and cover artist (and then-Legion artist) Steve Lightle do? Well, of course -- they brought back the pink!!

Karen: Maybe they were all fans of Good and Plentys??

Doug: Lordy, I hate Good and Plenty!! But that is funny -- the picture to the left is exactly those colors!

Doug: Finally, finally, Rokk got a costume that didn't look so, so... well, whatever. Anyway, umpteenth re-boot artist Barry Kitson put Cos in a nice midnight blue and black outfit, still paying homage to the circles-on-the-chest motif that the character had worn for nearly 50 years. It was a nice change, much more believable and attractive than anything Mr. Krinn had previously worn.

Karen: Although I didn't enjoy this umpteenth revision of the Legion, Cos' costume did look nice. Hard to go wrong with blue and black.

Doug: I'll admit to never having seen Smallville (I was told early on that this was a mistake -- that it is really quite a good program). So I can't say much here other than Ryan Kennedy played Cos alongside Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad in an episode that aired in January 2009. This is certainly the most toned-down outfit in our portfolio of garish costumes!

Doug: So, what's the verdict on Cosmic Boy's sense of fashion? I vote for "Fashion Disaster".

Karen: I have to agree with you on this - I wouldn't say his costumes were dreadful, but they weren't good either!


Edo Bosnar said...

Hmm, another early post that I'm seeing for the first time now: the "Do Real Men Wear Pink?" link caught my eye as I scrolled down your page earlier and my curiosity was piqued. Mainly because - I have to admit - from about ages 4-8 my favorite color was pink (something I learned rather quickly not admit once I started going to school...)
As for Cosmic Boy, yes, most of his costumes were pretty bad, with the male stripper outfit as the all-time worst, but I kind of liked Giffen's redesign of his original costume. And I rather like a male hero who proudly wears Oxford powder pink - sure beats that bubble-gum hot pink that Element Lad wore at various points in his career.

Edo Bosnar said...

I stand behind every word of my comment from almost 2 years ago...

dbutler16 said...

As much as I love the Legion of Super-Heroes, I have to vote for "disaster". I like the costume from his miniseries the best of the bunch. The one from Smallvile (don't worry, Doug, I've never made it through an entire episode myself unless you include whilst on the elliptical machine with the closed captioning on) doesn't look at all like a costume, more like a black winter coat or something. I really hate the bustier costume, though I know that some LOSH fans actually like it.

Humanbelly said...

That image of Grell's re-design, there? I assumed it was a lark or a joke or something until I read the text! I daresay Grell is being a-MIGHTY disingenuous in suggesting that he may not have realized what that design would look like. The resemblance to Tim Curry in Rocky Horror (including the black gloves!) is almost comical-- and the flight pose is much, much more in line with the common female-hero poses. (Girls generally w/ legs modestly together, boys' legs often extended and/or dynamically spread apart.) It stretches credibility to believe that an accomplished artist could create that detailed image w/out actually taking it in, y'know?
My vote definitely goes to the Cosmic Boy #1 cover image, though. That's a fine looking set of togs-- with the pink accents working just fine.

I know there must be someone out there-- but I can't think off-hand of any male Marvel hero who embraced the Pink. Any villains, maybe? In fact, I wonder if early fear of the CCA may have unofficially nixed the use of the color for guys in order to avoid any-- ANY-- suggestion that a male character might have leanings beyond the societal straight & narrow?


Anonymous said...

The Palermo (Sicily) Soccer Team that plays in 'Serie A' wear Oxford powder pink tops...and I don't think anyone doubts the manliness of the majority of there supporters!

Humanbelly said...

There are really different "pinks", too, aren't there? The real light powder puff/baby pink? Honestly, I don't think that looks too good on anyone, male or female. It doesn't contrast/complement well with very many natural human skin tones at all. Maybe folks with a medium brown/chocolate brown tone-- but man, beyond that? I dunno.

But a hot pink, or a neon pink, or one of the richer "pink" shades? Heck, I've had a couple of favored shirts in that realm myself-- perfectly navigable color choice!


Martinex1 said...

I am wearing a pink shirt right now (and enjoying it). I am not wearing a bustier. Thumbs up for original costume. Thumbs down for the Grell lingerie. I'm having a hard time thinking of many characters male or female that wear pink. Waiting for Pink Hulk.

Martinex1 said...

The only characters I can think of that wear pink are: Pink Panther, Psylocke's earlier costume, the female Power Ranger, Dinah Saur from Great Lakes Avengers, Pink Pearl an Alpha Flight villain, and the Scarlet Witch. There has to be more doesn't there?

Edo Bosnar said...

Martinex, as I sort of noted above, Element Lad originally wore a hot pink (and white) outfit; during the Levitz/Giffen run, his new costume was hot pink and black.
Another, more obscure, DC character that wore mainly pink was Looker (from the Outsiders).
On the Marvel side - and I know this is a bit obscure - Oracle of the Imperial Guard had a mainly pink costume.

Edo Bosnar said...

Also, an obvious one we all seem to be forgetting is the hot pink bathing suit and hip boots Saturn Girl wore during most of the '70s. Again, when Giffen basically restored her original costume, he used pink instead of red.

Humanbelly said...

Atom Eve from Image's INVINCIBLE was clad in a baby-pink leotard. . . and possibly pink cape? But I'm pretty sure that was solidly conscious decision--- having an almost impossibly powerful character wearing such a soft, vulnerable color.


johnlindwall said...

Late to the party but I have to chime in: I am a huge fan of the Grell man-corset design! That was the Cosmic Boy that I grew up with, so that might explain my fondness in part. However I do think it is a cool and unique design. I like the metal square accents too.

Think about it -- this is the 30th Century! The fashions and styles of that time will be totally different then our time. In the future, that costume is the cat's pajamas, trust me!

I also liked Grell's explanation for how the costume stays in place instead of falling away -- there are magnetic fibers in the fabric so he uses his powers to keep it on. Now that is cool!

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