Sunday, August 19, 2012

Off the Chest

Doug:  Today we're looking at superhero insignia, as found on the chests of our favorite characters -- shoot, even if they're nasty, we can talk about those types as well.

Doug:  Part of this conversation will certainly include the iconic Superman "S" (our reviews of Byrne's Man of Steel begin tomorrow), and maybe the spider on our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.  Perhaps we should lead off with your thoughts on just why certain chest emblems are the best, or most well-known.  And what of those emblems that have been tampered with through the years?  I recall being pretty ticked off when, in the 1989 Batman film, the Dark Knight's chest emblem showed up with two extra points on the tail.  Say what??  Similarly, I was a bit put off by the costume revamp in this summer's Amazing Spider-Man.  Why mess with an icon?  So, what are the properties of these designs that make even non-comics fans take notice?

Doug:  But what are some logos off the beaten path so to speak?  Are there characters that you really like, and part of that love is embedded in their costume's color scheme or logo?  Let's hear your thoughts on this important aspect of longjohn fashion.


david_b said...

As we found out with the dismay over the use of 'black leather' duds in the X-Men movies, you find out that movie-goers REALLY just want to see classic outfits, regardless of cheese or outlandish designs.

My favs at DC are Silver Age Flash and Green Lantern.., both dramatic, stylish, and powerful especially Flash's lightning bolt, sleek and sharp.

As a double-whammy, Captain America's was it. For the chest you get stars, stripes, PLUS a big letter A on his head.. When Kirby drew him with the intense, blocky expression, that was ALLLLLL you needed.

Dougie said...

As a Legion enthusiast, I like Ultra Boy's thunderbird, the cursive P for Phantom Girl, Timber Wolf's wolf's head and Night Girl's owl.

The winged star for Wildfire makes a little sense if he had remained Starfire. Nevertheless, Cockrum was an exciting designer.

Roygbiv666 said...

"Why mess with an icon?" Because Hollywood in completely bereft of any originality, the closest they can come is making pointless changes to pre-existing properties.

Or course, now DC is doing it ... could there be a connection?

Batman rules!

Redartz said...

Obviously, Batman's insignia is iconic, either with or without the yellow oval. Simple, dramatic, and instantly recognizable; this is a perfect example of effective wisual design (sorry, that's the former art student coming out).

As for a somewhat lesser known symbol, I call your attention to Jughead Jones in his Captain Hero identity. He features a unique chest symbol: a hamburger! Perhaps not so awe-inspiring as Batman's, yet I don't believe any other character has one quite like it!

Garett said...

I liked drawing the Flash and Batman logos when I was a kid. Daredevil's overlapping DD was pretty good. Mind-boggling was Mr. Terrific's "Fair Play"!

Dougie said...

Both versions of Mr. Terrific were, of course, born being terrific. Not sure where Fair Play came in...

Edo Bosnar said...

Dang, Dougie beat me to it: I was going to say Ultra Boy's thunderbird as well. And speaking of thunderbirds, I rather liked the X-men's Thunderbird symbol as well, although it went beyond his chest.
One of the coolest chest emblems, though, is E-man's. Staton's design for Einstein's equation is both slick and elegant.

Anonymous said...

This is a subject I am fascinated in.

I always really liked Green Lantern's symbol---but I think one of my favorites is POWER RINGs chest symbol. And Hawkman's. And soooo many LOSH symbols.

I could could on and on with this topic.


William Preston said...

Speaking of "off the chest" in relation to chest symbols, how about the use of the chest symbol in the second Superman movie. Remember how he tears off the chest symbol (or an overlay, evidently) and tosses it at the oafish villain? It gets huge, surrounds him . . . and dissolves. Oh well. Then they invented the Finger Point Blue Beam power right after that. Goofy stuff.

Anonymous said...

Greetings Bronze Age aficionados!

Superhero insignias are really important in today's brand specific market. A logo distinguishes a character from its competition. I read once where many years ago KFC discovered that sales increased whenever they prominently displayed Colonel Sanders' face, hence the reason why you see the Colonel's face plastered on nearly all KFC outlets worldwide.

I'd like to add Iron Fist's dragon brand (it's not a tattoo!)as another example of an iconic superhero emblem. All 66 Iron Fists throughout history had the dragon symbol on their costume in one form or another. Hmmm ...what are the odds of a dragon having a dragon shaped scar on its body?! :)

Also, the Phantom had two emblems : a skull-shaped ring on his right hand for all the evildoers and a ring with 4 crossed swords on his left hand for those who were under his protection.

Some galactic superheroes had star shaped insignias like Captain Marvel's (Marvel's version not DC's Shazam) yellow star on his chest or Nova's star design on his helmet.

Also, you have Zorro's "Z" slash, Green Hornet's hornet logo, and while technically not a logo, the Shadow's red scarf and black hat. I know these three are not superheroes in the strictest sense, but I just finished reading up on pulp characters! Sorry. :)

- Mike 'my logo is a box of KFC' from Trinidad and Tobago

Fred W. Hill said...

Not mentioned yet is the Fantastic Four's 4 logo. Of course, only 3 members regularly wear it and as Ben typically goes in action only wearing his shorts and when Sue is invisible and Johnny aflame, Reed is the only left displaying the iconic 4 symbol.

Doug said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments so far today.

I felt that a highlight (the only one, to be honest) of the Avengers' so-called "bomber jacket era" was the fact that said jackets each sported the Avengers' "A" logo on the chest or sleeve (can't recall off the top of my head). One of the cool things about the all-new, all-different X-Men was that the belt buckles of Cyke, Colossus, and Wolverine all switched to the black X on a red background. That was a nifty way to unify them. Too bad Earth's Mightiest couldn't work that into their dressing scheme, especially since they're all on payroll.


Garett said...

You mentioned color schemes in the intro, and Earth 2 Green Lantern has a curious combo that for some reason works in a cool way--green, red, purple, yellow, giant cape.

I'd say Dr Midnight and Hourman have bad color schemes, although I liked them as characters.

William said...

Some chest symbols are pretty obvious like Spider-Man's spider, and Batman's bat. I mean what else are you going use in those cases.

The most instantly recognizable symbol has to be Superman's however. It really is an ingenious design when you think about it. One of the best "corporate" logo designs ever IMO.

Personally I've always been partial to Daredevil's double D chest emblem. Very iconic, deceptively simple, yet a real bitch to draw. Some artists used to cheat by making the letters solid black, which makes it much easier to render, but takes a lot away from it's design esthetic.

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