Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bracketology: Dressed for Success -- 5th Round (the Elite 8)

Doug:  I think the fact that we had to have a special run-off between Havok and the Man of Steel speaks to the thought and loyalty that people are putting into these votes.  This has been fun over the past few weeks, but now it's getting down to the nitty gritty.  As we've remarked in the past, there are some real icons left, as well as a couple of upstarts, in my opinion, in Dr. Doom and Phoenix.  I wished that Yellowjacket and Daredevil had had better showings, but I guess it was not to be.

Doug:  Man, I'm running out of costume related questions for us.  How about this one -- of the eight supersuits left, what is the most eye-catching feature of each one?  Is it the color scheme?  A chest logo?  A belt or the boots?


david_b said...

To answer the posed question, I would suppose it's down to what others have all said here.., that the successful, timeless, iconic outfits are those that really shape the character's attitude and what he's about, first impressions weigh in there too.

Could you imagine Spidey with a cape..? He's certainly designed to convey the non-trad hero since day one. And especially with the Ditko and Colan days, Doc Strange's outfit really generated/permeated a sense of mysticism, with the intricate designs on his cape, to his sash and high, pointy cape 'top' behind his head (whatever the word for that is...), which draws your focus right back to his cerebral aspects, rightfully emphasising his powers as primarily mental in nature.

As for Bats..? As the rest of you can elaborate on, he's a creature of the night, in intent and purpose, how he chose to avenge his parents, and so on.

Anonymous said...

David B, I agree completely. Spidey, Batman, and Cap's outfits are's almost impossible to imagine them in anything else.

For Doc Strange, Phoenix, and Iron Man I think the colours are what immediately grabs your attention.

Mike W.

Anonymous said...

Ok for most of them it's their respective logos. Spidey has his spider emblem with the webbing design running throughout his costume. The big white eyepieces are notable too. Batman's Bat logo is the centrepiece of a black cowl and long cape outfit.

Phoenix has her phoenix design along with that distinctive waist sash. Captain America is always visually striking because he's dressed like a human flag with the bold stars and stripes in red, blue and white. And don't forget about that shield!

For Iron Man it's about his red/gold colour combination coupled with his chest arc reactor. For me, that arc reactor (round or triangular) has always been his most striking feature no matter which version or colour of his armour he has on - you know it's Iron Man when you see that arc reactor glowing brightly out there!

I can't believe Havok has made it so far in this poll. I guess one can never underestimate the power of concentric circles!

Now we come to Doctors Doom and Strange. For good ol' Victor Von Doom his appearance is striking because he has a strange mix of old style green cloth cape and hood over his modern grey armour. To me, his fearsome face mask is his most distinguishing feature. Dr. Strange has the eye-catching (!) Eye of Agamotto amulet along with his Cloak of Levitation. The cloak's yellow border with the fine lines is also visually striking. One feature of Strange's costume that most people overlook is his lack of boots or other footwear. He seems to be wearing long stockings, which is unusual in any type of superhero costume.

- Mike 'not fashion conscious, just jeans & a t-shirt' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Doug said...

I like Cap better than I do Spider-Man, largely because the Avengers is my favorite book; Amazing Spider-Man, however, was historically my second fave. But I think one thing we've remarked on repeatedly in the comments on other posts is the translation of comic book costumes to the silver screen -- Christopher Reeve aside, is there another costume that's looked better on the big screen than the Spidey suit Tobey Maguire wore? It was faithful to the source material and just looked awesome.

RE: Havok. I'd probably vote for that costume against any of those that remain. I just love it -- the simplicity, the way the circles are drawn when he unleashed his power, and the crazy headdress. It's just a very basic yet elegant and highly interesting get-up.

As to where my eyes go, or elements of the costumes that remain: The round pods on Iron Man's hips were always interesting to me. I always wondered what they were for, and how he moved with those infringing on his waist and hips. Spidey's eyes -- others have talked about the webbing on his costume, but for my money the eyes was a sure sign that the artist knew/didn't know how to draw the character. Giants like Kirby and Big John Buscema often fell short on the web-slinger.

Also, I've been meaning to ask this for weeks and keep forgetting: For Batman, light gray and royal blue, or the dark gray and/or black we've grown accustomed to since 1989? I've enjoyed the more practical utility belt depictions since Miller drew it with pouches in DKR.

For Cap -- you're right, Mike, it's the shield and not really the costume. Although I did miss the star on his back in the Avengers film. Phoenix? The sash and high boots. If Faith Hill had red hair, she could rock a Phoenix costume. After that intro. to Sunday Night Football each week, I really don't care about the game!

Lastly, Doctors Doom and Strange have great-looking costumes. For Doc Doom I'm always drawn first to the large gold medallions that secure his cape. For Stephen Strange, it's the crazy design on his shirt (blouse?).


Edo Bosnar said...

And then there was one... I mean one costume actually designed during the Bronze Age. And I'm glad it's one designed by Dave Cockrum, with many of his signature elements: the hip boots, the long gloves, the sash. The Phoenix costume is actually quite superbly designed, with a great color scheme and a striking logo.
For the rest, I really can't think of one single thing that makes them stand out. Rather, it's just that all of the elements, i.e. colors, design elements, etc., look great together.

Pat Henry said...

Havok beat out Superman? Preposterous.

I have noticed what's apparently a bias to Marvel, but I'm not sure it's deserved in this competition. DC had a lot of iconic, instantly recognizable costumes and insignia.

Flash and Green Lantern, f'rinstance.

dbutler16 said...

For Batman, it's probably the ears and the long, flowing, dark cape, which adds an air of intimidation and make him look the part of a creature of the night.

For Dr. Doom, I guess it's just the combination of a green cowl over a suit of armor, and also the memorable faceplate.

For Iron Man, it's probably taking the medieval suit of armor, and updating it with one of my favorite color combinations - red and yellow.

For Phoenix, I love the gold, it's a surprisingly rare color in superhero costumes, but the sash is what really sets this costume apart. It's unique, it's dynamic, and it's a bit sexy and feminine.

For Havok, it's got to be the chest emblem. I think the all-black works, and the thing on top of his head is OK, though perhaps a bit over the top, but I like the way the chest emblem grows when he uses his power. Plus, at least originally, it was supposed to help him focus when using his power.

For Dr. Strange, the cape in general is cool, but I especially love the way it rises in the back, behind his head, like an Elvis collar, and also forms those two points. For some reason, though, while I’m used to seeing superheroes in tights and find nothing wrong with it, it just doesn’t seem quite right for Dr. Stephen Strange.

For Spider-Man, I can’t even pin it down, even though it’s one of my all-time favorites. I like the colors, but I think it’s either the webbing pattern on the costume of the fact that his face is totally hidden. Maybe it’s a knight thing, but I do like costumes where the face is totally hidden (e.g., Black Panther) and it’s also practical if you’re trying to hide your identity.

For Captain America, does the shield count? Otherwise, I guess it’s just that they didn’t get too cutesy. It’s patriotic without looking like a walking flag. I think Karen(?) had mentioned that she didn’t at first realize he was wearing chain mail, and neither did I. It’s obviously practical, though it would slow him down a bit and the fact that it is (or way) armor never seems to come into play.

dbutler16 said...

Pat Henry, I agree with you about the Marvel bias here, and I certainly think Shazam and the Flash, to name a couple, deserved a better fate, but oh well.

Dougie said...

That tiara- headdress of Havok's a stylised atom, no? I like the idea that Larry Trask had it designed for Alex. Maybe that was his secondary mutation: tszuj-ing your look.

Pat Henry said...

I will say that of the list remaining, I think Spider-Man remains the most iconic and descriptive of his powers. A completely integrated design.

You look at the costume and you think, "Something that has to do with the power of a spider!"

Batman has some of that, but then the powers themselves are not particularly "of the bat," so to speak.

Havok's concentric circles—well, what does that mean in terms of power?

Captain America, Dr Doom, Dr Strange—each somewhat similar to that. Definitely solid, terrific designs in their own right, but they don't necessarily instantly transmit CONCEPT as Spidey's does.

Doug said...

Pat --


And the Golden Age Flash and Gil Kane-designed Hall Jordan Green Lantern costume are among the best super-suits of any age, and any company.

Havok and Superman ended up tied after the regular voting, and in a run-off that lasted around 16 hours Havok beat Supes 8-6.


Anonymous said...

I think Spidey should probably have it.

I think that Spider-Woman deserved better, and Moon Knight's is an incredible costume. I knew of Spider-Woman before whatever the hell they've done with her in modern comics. I don't buy any new comics period; guess I don't buy into the 'modern ethic', and it seems a direct correlation to the world around us at this moment- I think things are really going into the sh**ter.

I guess I understand now as I get older the 'kids these days', and 'in my day' sentiments of 'old' people; beyond this normal 'age thing'-- think there's a bit more to the feeling of things going downhill with 'reality' than just that- at this juncture. In a lot of ways, it's that we have two basically false ideologies that have debilitated this world, while those who don't give a damn about either , really, have a lockdown on our lives. We never ACTUALLY progress or conserve anything; what valueless, sleight-of-hand, and hypocritical terms.!

And, this all translates into comics and other mediums. A real load.

- A

Inkstained Wretch said...

I'm frankly shocked that Havoc beat out Superman. I'm sorry, but Havoc's costume just looks silly to me. There's not much to it other than that wacky cowl. Superman's has stood the test of time for more than 70 years. (See, this is what happens when I don't look at this sight often enough...)

Of the remaining ones, I think Phoenix's costume is far and away the best, especially when drawn with a shiny edge. It's very striking, with a great color scheme, and is, as others have noted, very feminine without being a half-naked thing. It looked great too when it went from green and gold to red and gold too. That's proof, I think of the strength of the design.

Otherwise this contest left me behind when the Golden Age Green Lantern was voted out. Fools!

The Marvel bias in the final round is pretty striking. I wonder how much of that is based just on Marvel's strength relative to DC in the Bronze Age? I mean, Marvel just sold better back then so does that give it a stronger nostalgia factor? Or did Marvel's sell better in the first place in part because they had better costume designs?

Doug said...

If I counted correctly, we began this series of polls with 33 DC costumes, 2 independents, and 61 Marvel costumes.

I think we all just read more Marvels as kids... And let's face it -- the comics were better due in large part to plots aimed at college-aged kids, better art (overall), and a pushing of the envelope that made Marvel's Bronze Age overall more exciting than DC's. Of course this is my opinion only.


Garett said...

Did Marvel have better art during the Bronze age? DC had Kirby, Adams, Aparo, Wrightson, Kubert, Grell, Garcia Lopez, Kaluta... and Byrne and Miller switched to DC later on, as did Perez and Kane.

Might be a good topic for a day!

Karen said...

Have to agree with Doug -we both grew up reading mostly Marvel, so it's natural this blog slants that way, and attracts like-minded folks.

That being said, I am a bit disappointed that the final contestants here are mostly costumes with Silver Age or older origins!

Pat Henry said...

I have a Marvel bias, too. Big one. But in the area of costume and emblem design, DC really holds its own.

I mean, you could take the Superman emblem into deepest, darkest New Guinea and the natives there could identify it, tell you to what character it belonged. It is known all over the world. That is identity penetration. Is it the best costume design on the list? Probably not, but—seriously!

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