Because I love a Kate Spade purse as much as a Fables hardcover trade, I tend to have strong opinions about comic book fashion. V., a Gucci aficionado from way back, is no different, and we’ve had plenty of Project Runway elimination-style discussions about superhero garb.

Of course, everyone had something to say about Wonder Woman’s new costume, much of it hilarious. My favorite observation came from Tom and Lorenzo, the duo behind the brilliant Project Rungay blog: “She kind of looks like she’s on her way to yoga class. In Vanilla Ice’s old jacket. That sound you hear is the wail of drag queens the world over, all of whom wouldn’t be caught dead in this thing.”

Now that the dust has settled, we were inspired to survey the field of DC superheroines to determine who looks red-carpet ready, and who looks a hot mess. The men just didn’t interest us as much, because frankly, there’s not much to say about dudes who favor briefs and capes as a daytime look.

As for Vixen’s outfit, well, you know where we stand on that madness.

Liberty Belle: Ms. Chambers if you’re nasty.

Liberty Belle: Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always liked Jesse Chambers’ classic Liberty Belle getup. It’s a nice homage to her mom, and since she’s got that Veronica Lake thing going on, she manages to be sexy without giving away the store. Few people could get away with those thigh-enhancing jodphurs — or that color scheme for that matter — but L.B. does so with grace. What a classy dame. Grade: B+


Wonder Girl: Cassandra Sandsmark’s costume, if you can call it that, reflects the problem with her character. There’s no there there, and certainly nothing fitting a heroine. You could walk into any Forever 21 or Wet Seal in America and come up with the equivalent of what she’s wearing. Her boyfriend, Conner Kent, seems to share the notion that a pair of Gap jeans and a logo shirt are just dandy for saving the universe, but where’s the glamour? The intimidation factor? The effort? Girl, bye. Grade: D

Black Canary: Artist Ed Benis’ Matrix-referencing take on Dinah Lance makes our favorite Bird of Prey as stylish as she is deadly. The long, cinched black coat, Dinah’s trademark fishnets and the motorcycle boots are gangsta in a very good way. Siu Jerk Jai deserves nothing less. Grade: A

Artemis: New Earth

Artemis (New Earth):Brimming with Amazonian swagger, Artemis of Bana-Migdhall looks great no matter what she’s wearing. But I’m partial to the sultry I Dream of Jeannie togs Artemis wears in her New Earth incarnation. It’s exotic (wispy genie pants), fashion-forward (calf-high gladiator shoes) and a touch dangerous (leather push-up top). Extra points for the bicep-enhancing gold bangles and choker. Fierce! Grade: A


Starfire: When you’re hot, you’re hot, but that’s no excuse for dressing like a truck stop lingerie model. I know what the Starfire apologists are thinking: “Jealous, much?” Yes. Grade: D-

Victorian Wonder Woman: Wondy went Steampunk to solve the case of Jack the Ripper in Amazonia, an Elseworlds tale set in the Victorian era. Of course, she looked fantastic in this retro version of her iconic costume: Crimson corset with a fishtail flourish, elbow-length gloves with filigree bracelets and chic, lace-up boots. The hair is very Padme Amidala in The Phantom Menace, but Diana rocked it out with the tiara. Grade: A-


Manhunter:Unless it’s got some built-in Spanx, Mahunter’s costume leaves absolutely no room for error. This is an aerodynamic, body-hugging costume that means business. In addition to being sleek and functional, it’s got that cool plating at the neck and shoulders (with matching clawed gauntlets), and the power staff is just cool as hell. Grade: B

Hoof heels!

Nimue: Nimue’s fashion has evolved to suit the times and moniker of Madame Xanadu. Her woodland nymph garb, complete with antlers and proper baubles, is hippie ethereal in an “I’m actually Homo Magi” kind of way. The knee-high lace up hoof heels are just about the cleverest shit we’ve ever seen for those times when you don’t want to be found in the forest — aaand you might not want to be found if you’ve pissed off your lover, Merlin.

Batwoman: I love everything about this costume, which somehow manages to be more menacing than Batman’s. Maybe it’s the stark black-and-red color combo, or maybe it’s the kickass footwear JH Williams III bestowed upon Kate Kane in his Detective Comics run. These are not girly boots for prancing around, but wall-climbing, roof-jumping, thug-stomping kicks. Throw in some red gloves, and you’ve got a look that’s a little bit scary and a whole lot sexy. Grade: A+

Star Sapphire: Cher wept. Grade: F

17 thoughts on “Haute Heroism

  1. I have to say that Liberty Belle and Black Canary have always been costume faves of mine. But where’s the marvel women? They’ve been just as subject to design triumph and disaster as DC’s female roster.
    I know you girls don’t just cover DC stuff. There does, however, seem to be a slight tilt to the major title scale that I’ve noticed.
    Just an observation.


    1. We don’t exclusively cover DC stuff, but much of what is on our respective pull lists is DC. That is changing a bit for me as I’ve been reading some Image, Dynamite, and BOOM books. But, I’ve never been much of a Marvel girl beyond X-Force. Really, I just like X-23.

      E. reads more Marvel than I do, she’s an avid Spider-Man fan.


  2. PS: Why do you hate girls in pants? Why are bare legs an easier A than…
    …nevermind. I had this argument before.
    I guess it just comes down to me admitting that I’m a tee-shirt and jeans kind of guy and what’s sexy to me isn’t sexy to everybody.
    Still, I have to admit there’s something really appealing about a woman who dresses functionally.


    1. Liberty Belle wears pants! She’s one of my favorites, and so does Batwoman (kinda). As for the DC tilt, we tend to write what we know. We do read some indie stuff, but Ultimate Spider-Man and Fantastic Four are the only Marvel books I’m pulling right now. I always wanted to get into X-Men, but I’ve never found a good entry point. I’d love to hear your suggestions!


      1. I’m currently too poor to be all-that-up on X-Men. It seems the recent holywood-fueled comics boom has lead to a lot of event-based story arcs that I can’t afford to follow, for one, and, secondly, just don’t appreciate as much as more self-contained stories.
        It’s like 1994 all over again. Except, now, I’m not some kid on allowance who doesn’t care if he misses a couple plot points, because he’s really just waiting for Wolverine to get his Adamantium skeleton back…
        I’m really into the Garth Ennis Punisher stuff. You have to be in the mood for something exploitatively over-the-top, though.
        Never got into Spiderman, on account of the quippy dialogue (I have the same problem with the first couple of seasons of Buffy). So, I have no idea where to direct you, there.
        Pretty much anything penned Grant Morrison is the whip. He did a great run on X-Men from 2001-2005ish. Everything after that is hit and miss because of how badly House of M effed the M.U.
        I haven’t finished catching-up on it, yet, but Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men was good.
        Bendis is doing a book for Icon – Marvel’s creator-owned imprint – called Scarlet. That’s really good. I recommend it.
        Mark Millar’s new Avengers book (Ultimate Avengers 2) is turning out to be pretty fun.


  3. I’m so glad you mentioned Grant Morrison’s run, because I’ve been eyeing those books at my LCS. Great suggestions, Joshua! I really appreciate the thought you put into it.


  4. JMS on Thor is all I’m saying! Also Marvel Her-oes which is the worst name ever is actually really good especially for teen girls, but since fangirls never grow up its good fun and something you can pass on to a kid. Old Man Logan rules although I am starting to hate on Millar and I know you girls are reading Chew, Rob Guillory <3 is sooo talented. Frank Miller's first run on Daredevil is one of my all time favorites because you see him evolve as an artist and writer and the fashion is so good, especially Matt Murdock's rich girlfriends wardrobe.

    I love Black Canary's look but that artic outfit in the first ish of BOP reminds me why my love for fashion and comics go hand in hand. Kate in and out of costume looks so good that even her dentist hates it when she floss!


    1. I’ve heard amazing things about JMS on Thor. Yes, Chew is I friggin’ LOVE Guillory. Dinah’s Iceland outfit was the shit! I want one.


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