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Off THEIR Minds: What's a More Practical Costume?

Comic book creators are asked to choose between spandex, leather or jeans & a t-shirt.


The superhero costume is a big deal for new characters. Besides the superhero name, it's the costume everyone will remember. It fast becomes a major part of defining who the hero is or will be.

Design and color are important factors to consider but there's something that might be more important in terms of having a costume you'll be comfortable living with and fighting crime in. What type of material should the costume be made from? Superhero costumes started out mainly being made from spandex. Soon the move to leather costumes was made (probably partly due to durability and partly due to looking cool). Recently there's been a trend of just wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

At C2E2, several comic book creators were asked what was the more practical costume. Here are their answers.  == TEASER ==
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Edited by matthuliz
Posted by Iron_Turtle

Can a giant mecha be considered a costume?

Posted by Grim

Superboy MADE the Jeans and T-shirt cool again. I know one of the Starmen and a couple of others dabbled in the Tee&J's for a while, but Conner did it back in 03 or so, and since then its been all over the place.
 Just one more reason why Con deserves more recognition than that farce on Young Justice.

Posted by Backflip

Yeah, realistically, the Kevlar suit that the X-Men wore during Grant Morrison's tenor were the most practical for their line of work.

Posted by isaac_clarke

Jeans and a T shirt are fine depending on the power set. Without Super Human Durability or at least a healing factor it's absolute insanity for someone to play hero without some durable better attire.
Edited by Pokeysteve

I don't think you can generalize. Depends on what kind of hero you are. Superman can wear whatever the hell he wants because odds are it's not getting damaged and the stretchiness doesn't matter. Some one like Black Canary or Huntress or even Batman, who rely heavily on martial arts are going to need something flexible enough to perform some of the moves. One of the things about Wonder Woman's new costume I hate. People say it's more practical. Well no it isn't. She's a fighter and if she kicks her leg up high enough those pants are going to split right up the crotch. Which is fine but I still hate the costume. 

This is what they need    
Posted by Soldier zero

In my mind a costume to be practical must comply to several requisites:

  1. Comfortable: nobody want to wear something that itch or in any other way create problems
  2. Washable: Stains and battle dirt are among the most common problems a superhero might face and not every hero has a dependable English butler to help him
  3. Easy to manufacture/repair: superhero costumes tends to get ruined a lot, so being easy to repair of replace is a paramount consideration. This is partially counteracted by the next point
  4. Durable: a costume must be able to endure tons of stress and damage, without tearing or ripping (especially in embarassing places)
  5. Unhindered: especially for high mobility heroes a costume must not hinder their mobility in any possible way
Aside from that there are considerations about how iconic the design is etc.

Of all the choices mentioned above leather is probably the worst being durable but not much else. Under many conditions lather is as comfortable as a straight-jacket and even under the mobilty angle it doesn't work well. And good luck repairing it or removing the stains.
Spandex is a bit more forgiving, but it has other problems in terms of being subtle, spandex tend to come in very bright colors and is generally very light reflecting, making a character dressed in it a very easy target.
Jeans and t-shirt are a good choice from several point of view, but they lack the toughness of a proper costume.
Posted by Harlekin

Superboy went from looking like a superhero to looking like Superman's biggest fan.

Posted by tonis

interesting thought all comic lovers have had to have pondered no doubt.


Practical is a double edged sword. My guess is the artist has controlled a lot of that in what works best for them, as the writer isn't likely to care as much what the suits made of.

That's gotten a lot more complicated as we've introduced TV and movies into the mix as now you've got prop designers and budgets rearing their heads in and all of it influences a look for a character be it good or bad.

In animation I think the sky is the limit on suit design. Anything can be made believable with the right creativity behind it. For live action, it's going to take the SUPER creative to translate what we've grown up with for many years reading into something as exciting seeing 'realistically'.
Edited by darkcloakx

wear a symbiote suit. that work right it can change clothes for you. that will work right guys?

Posted by Eyz

 Usually, you won't have a costume that is practical and that would look good/iconic enough. And vis-versa.

Posted by EnSabahNurX

I say a very flexible nanofiber with leather accents(used like padding) and maybe segment the nanofiber around joints and add spandex for flexibility but spandex should blend with nanofiber XD lmao 


Oh and  head to toe leather is way too heavy and constricting, you're gonna end up breathing heavy and die after a short jog

But i say if u can rock the jeans and a tee then do it I would XD
Posted by Radread

  I get how the costumes reflected the times and work. I,however have hoped that Superboy would go back to a regular costume again of some type and ditch the black shirt and jeans.
Posted by NightFang

 I like Gail Simone's and Nick Spencer's answers. 

Posted by ltbrd

@Pokeysteve:
So wait, Wonder Woman having pants isn't practical because they could split when she kicks but wearing a leotard is? There is a reason why gymnasts use a resin spray to keep their leotard in place......because it wouldn't stay in place otherwise.

 

Under that logic Bruce, Dick (as Nightwing and Batman) and Tim (as Robin and Red Robin) should have been ripping their pants all the time, especially Dick as he's more of an acrobatic fighter than both Bruce and TIm. Yet they don't and they wear pants.

Posted by dorsk188

I have to say the X-Men during Morrison's run were pretty well done.  Bold broad colors, iconic, but clearly made from practical materials (except Emma).  The protection usually came from overcoats and jackets, while the shirts were clearly more comfortable (except Emma).  Basically it was biker gear with bright accents (except Emma).


It was an impressive accomplishment considering that most X-Men had a unique, realistic look, but everyone still seemed to be part of the team (except Emma).
Posted by ltbrd


The "unstable molecule" costumes of the Fantastic Four are the best idea for a costume because even though it looks like spandex its far more durable.

 

But I think the costume of the hero (or villain for that matter) has to be based around the idea of a secret identity. The X-Men and Fantastic Four don't have secret identities so they have no need to wear a costume underneath normal clothing and can fight without a costume. This could apply to some members of the Justice Society too because you never see the majority of them working normal jobs anymore.

 

So if you don't care about having a dual life I'd say go with something a bit more durable like kevlar and/or leather in the same vein as Grant Morrison's X-Men run.

 

If you want to keep a secret identity and job than you almost need to go with spandex to wear under normal clothing....such as Superman and Spider-Man. I wouldn't put Batman into this category because he generally only goes out at night or at least a planned time so he could go back to the cave or keep a spare at Wayne Enterprises (more along the lines of the Nolan films).

 

DC characters just need to convince Hal Jordan to let Bruce, Steel, Mr. Terrific and the other genius heroes get some specs on his power ring in order to duplicate the energy costume creation the Green Lanterns get to have. Than they can costumize the devices to belt buckles and such for guys like Superman. Batman would still need to go back to the cave to get his utility belt and gadgets though.

Posted by -Eclipse-

Think is, I don't see most superhero costumes as actually being made of spandex. Just looking at the art, it doesn't make sense to me that it's spandex. Like, when you see a hero get beat up, usually their costume gets ripped. When that happens, you can see quite clearly that it is made out of some kind of fabric, not stretch, super-tight rubber. Spider-man is an example, his costume is clearly not made out of spandex.

Posted by NickyFingaz

underpants...or no underpants?

Posted by oldgum

Modrox's 


X-Factor # 216



Posted by G-Man
@NickyFingaz: Underpants with spandex could give you 'pantie' lines. But if you get a tear in that area during a fight...could be a little embarrassing. 
Staff
Posted by triangle

jeans and a T-shirt cause its cheap to replace, you don't stick out in public, you don't seem like a total weird-o, unless youre 9ft tall green & emit gamma. another plus to Jeans and a T-shirt is you can change looks everyday, plaids, solids, strips, poka dot, aztec print, button ups, glasses, head phones...a real man or woman of the people. i like this alot.   

Posted by queenfrost_
@Harlekin said:
" Superboy went from looking like a superhero to looking like Superman's biggest fan. "
Posted by TDK_1997

I think the same as Matt Fraction

Posted by zmanm407
@darkcloakx said:
" wear a symbiote suit. that work right it can change clothes for you. that will work right guys? "
Posted by MonsterObsessor

Look at Cole MacGrath and Alex Mercer's costumes. They're cool.

Posted by Harlekin

Matt Fraction has the best answer to the question. First time I heard him talk, he sounds like he has some charisma.


They hit a point on the Jean and a T-Shirt things. A) Where's the fun in that B) It's boring.

Go chainmail it's been working for Cap since 1941.
Posted by sgoodwi
@Pokeysteve: that is a great add..........too cool
Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Let's see, maybe a break down would work here. Spandex unfortunately in a way implies either silliness or sexual orientation confusion nowadays but in a way is exceedingly comfortable.  Leather implies sexual perversion most likely, or orientation confusion depending on how much a fan of the Village People you are.  On the other hand its real hard to maneuver in leather due to its durability.   Jeans/t-shirt implies the practical and pragmatic since its simple and easy to wear or take off.  Problem with the jeans and t-shirt is that its become so ubiquitous now that it makes one hardly stand out.  I say go the way Gail said...all buff.  No better way than to scare/confuse the villain!

Posted by ssejllenrad

Iron man's costume is the most practical.

Edited by Xenozoic Shaman

I was thinking it before I watched the video, and right away Gail Simone backed me up.  Nude.  Quite practical, allows for movement, and shocks some foes giving you an advantage.  You can always tattoo a logo on.

Posted by InnerVenom123
@zmanm407 said:
" @darkcloakx said:
" wear a symbiote suit. that work right it can change clothes for you. that will work right guys? "
"
Posted by Doctor!!!!!

just Wear aT-shirt and a leather jacket, thats all you need!... or a nice formal suit!

Posted by weaponmaster

Spandex was invented in 1959. There are several superheroes that predate the invention of spandex, so superhero costumes did not start out mainly being spandex.
Posted by Xenozoic Shaman

I had forgotten about Phoenix Jones, but I like his armored costume approach. 

Posted by antiterra

All in all, I'd say X-Factor are hands down the best dressers in the superhero community - no surprises there, they are the coolest cats on the block, after all.

Most of their clothes look like casual wear tweaked to give them that super-team vibe. You probably wouldn't go to work dressed like Monet or Shatterstar, but neither would you look ridiculous, boring or all pervert-like.

Edited by Zaiyan

Capes are dumb when u think about a fight, I like the one where Herc owns that superman clone

Posted by Rhi
@Xenozoic Shaman said:
"I was thinking it before I watched the video, and right away Gail Simone backed me up.  Nude.  Quite practical, allows for movement, and shocks some foes giving you an advantage.  You can always tattoo a logo on.  *cue jokes about movement* "

 Yeah but maybe not ALL the costume people should be going nude. I don't EVER want to see Blob in the nude. Never, ever!
Posted by ltbrd

@-Eclipse-:
You've got a point there because during Road to Civil War arc Peter told Stark that his costume was made out of cloth.

 

This is probably the case for most "spandex" costumes but the term stuck because of how they were described back in the 40's and 50's as Superman's costume was styled after the spandex suits circus acrobats and muscle men wore.

Posted by Silkcuts

I Like button up shirt, dress pants and trench coat

Posted by greenenvy

I am  a fan of the revealing  or bathing type costumes like wonder woman wore. Are those still practical or  for others it is  used? Its boring to have jeans and a shirt what the hell they might as well where what we wear if that is the case for now on.  When is it enough that we will miss the traditional costumes? 

Posted by longas91
@antiterra: haha agree.
Posted by Knight_

I don't think it can be considered a costume if you are wearing jeans and a t-shirt, by that logic I am wearing a costume every day...and yes I do have super powers. :-P

Posted by slvrwolfang

You should ask the cosplayers, they know what's practical

Posted by ArtisticNeedham

Practicality I would have to go with Matt Fraction's answer, but from a design standpoint, it would depend on the powers I guess.  If your Superboy you can get away with jeans and a t-shirt since you are invincible and can fly and are super fast.  But if you Spider-Man, maybe you want more protective armor since you aren't bullet proof.  But Spider-Man is fast enough to dodge bullets, plus his Spider-Sense.  So spandex works best for him because of least resistance.  Batman has no powers, neither does Punisher, so body armor is best for them.I think the X-Men shouldn't have had no costumes in the movies, just regular clothing since they are regular humans with an eXtra power.  My characters, Monkey Boy, Corn Dog, and Almighty Dollar,
Monkey Boy his body is his costume, Corn Dog's skin is like the Thing's where its density is increased to a protective level, and Almighty Dollar wears spandex.

Corn Dog
Monkey Boy versus Almighty Dollar
Posted by Xenozoic Shaman
@Rhi said:
" @Xenozoic Shaman said:
"I was thinking it before I watched the video, and right away Gail Simone backed me up.  Nude.  Quite practical, allows for movement, and shocks some foes giving you an advantage.  You can always tattoo a logo on.  *cue jokes about movement* "
 Yeah but maybe not ALL the costume people should be going nude. I don't EVER want to see Blob in the nude. Never, ever! "
Ack!!  Okay, unless we can transfer the powers of a sasquatch to him, and make all visible sightings blurry, I take back my suggestion.  *shudder*
Posted by maxicere

KA - ZAR costume

Posted by TheSentry

Puffy yellow shirt and silver headband

Posted by The Poet

I think the first one is perfect: Nude! now thats what I'm talking about!

Moderator
Posted by fbdarkangel
@The Poet said:
" I think the first one is perfect: Nude! now thats what I'm talking about! "
*facepalm*
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