In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.
Which comic book character’s fashion sense do you admire?
Anika is on vacation this week. She requested that we submit the following:
Example 1: There’s an issue of Justice League International when Hal Jordan goes to complain to Max Lord to complain about what a jerk Guy Gardner is (oh whatever, Hal; Guy’s reason for existence is to make you look sensible and tolerant in comparison, and you’d be lost in a universe without him but I digress). Hal is wearing a white dress shirt and has a red sweater tied around his neck, like he’s getting ready to play a set of tennis, in 1962. I don’t know what artist Kevin Maguire was thinking there but it’s amazing.
Example 2: I don’t remember the plot of Superman Returns. I probably didn’t remember the plot of Superman Returns five minutes out of the theater. But I can tell you there’s a moment where James Marsden (playing Lois Lane’s boyfriend, Richard White) is in the kitchen with the sleeves rolled up on a white dress shirt.
Basically, ‘disheveled preppie’ is a look I go for. Put a guy in a collared shirt who looks like he (a) knows how to wear it and (b) doesn’t really care that much, and I’ll be happy. My friends know this. They give me movie reviews like, “You’ll dig this film! It has shirts!” and I know exactly what they mean. Dress a superhero as a disheveled preppie and it’s just that much more awesome. (Yeah yeah, Richard wasn’t actually a superhero, but he was totally cooler than Brandon Routh in that movie, and you know it!)
I don’t tend to pay attention to fashion as a rule, and I’m more likely to notice a comic where someone’s wardrobe looks wrong or out of place (or horribly dated — I just read “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” for the first time, and man, Lois’ puffy red sleeves could not be more 1980s) than I am to notice when it looks “right.” But in at least one case — and fairly early in my comics-reading career, at that — I happened to notice an artist who was doing a particularly good job of capturing just the right fashion sense for a group of characters: Adrian Alphona on Runaways.
Just look at those pictures. Not only do the kids look like real 21st century teenagers — an accomplishment in itself — they’re all wearing clothes that tell us something about their personalities. Nico’s goth ensembles are the easiest to point to, but we also have Chase as a cross between preppy and sporty, Gert trying to stand out and hide all at once, Molly being exuberant and youthful, Karolina as a California combination of hippie and hipster, and Alex being completely — perhaps suspiciously — average. All of these clothing styles give clues to the characters’ personalities without looking like exaggerated caricatures, and the artists who have followed Alphona have kept up the trend, giving the Runaways personal styles that are completely believable and completely distinctive — a real challenge in a superhero book that never features superhero costumes.
(Phone rings. Sigrid’s partner, J, picks it up.)
J: Sigrid, it’s for you.
J: It’s John Romita, Jr. And Paul Smith.
J: Yes. They’re calling from 1986, and they need to speak with you.
Sigrid: Ah. Erm . . .
I have no excuse and no defense. I think they way Rachel dresses in Uncanny X-Men in the 1980’s is normal. I think that’s how people dress. (Please note, I do not dress this way. I wear jeans and t-shirts, like the rest of the geek world. But I think other people dress like this.)
Show me a woman in suspenders, or with sleeves rolled up, or with, god help me, a collar that stands up, and I will give her a second look. And let’s not even discuss the Fingerless Glove Effect.
But this, this is my favorite. I watched the movie Just One of the Guys about seventeen times as an adolescent, because I thought the lead — when in drag — kinda looked like Rachel Summers does in drag. But look at that outfit, my god. Are those pants flared? Or wider at the bottom in some way? And look at those collars! Look how they stand up! I just, I have no defense. But I love Rachel Summers’s fashion.
So what about you? Which comic book character’s fashion sense do you admire?