Monday, September 28, 2009

Job Creation: Project Super-Runway

Amazing Spider Man #605 by Fred Van Lente and Luke Ross (2009)

Remember when we wrote about consulting and publicity for supervillains? We had mentioned just how important a villain's costume design is to his or her overall success. A villain is only as good as the evilness he is able to project upon the public. Within the context of the Batman universe, for instance, the successful villains include Joker, Two-Face, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, etc. All have thematically fitting and terrifying costumes that unequivocally demonstrate that these are guys you do not want to mess with. However, guys like the Calendar Man...well, not so much.

reprinted from

It's not that the Calendar Man doesn't have potential as a villain. Here is someone who commits gruesome murders corresponding to particular dates and holidays. Think about that. It sounds pretty lame, but it actually is quite chilling. It spreads panic around every major holiday, thus making something that was once enjoyable no longer a cause for celebration. And though it might eliminate the element of surprise, it actually creates a certain anxiety and paranoia that lasts year-round.

Still, no one is at all afraid of the Calendar Man. Why? Well, look at him. Apart from the dates, I used to dress in a similar way when I used to wander around the woods in my neighborhood and pretend to be an explorer.

And analogous to how supervillains need to look the part, the more respectable superheroes are the ones that have the most superheroic costumes too. This actually ends up being a problem for many of them. Not everyone as Martha Kent to sew costumes or a technical-savvy butler like Alfred to help out with wardrobe. Up-and-coming superheroes, in particular, who are trying to establish themselves in a world dominated by the classic ones (see the Super Young Team from Final Crisis: Dance for an example) have to worry a lot about their appearances. They need to establish a sense of security, confidence and trust. Usually, they won't achieve this desired effect with a costume quickly hobbled together using household towels and bedsheets. What's more is that these heroes usually don't have the time to work on costumes since they're out fighting crime all day.

That is why ideas like the one portrayed in last week's issue of Amazing Spider-Man are completely reasonable if not good. Big name fashion designers would start developing lines exclusively for newer heroes. Private self-employed designers would start customizing costumes for specific superheroes with whom they have contracts. And, of course, television shows flaunting this very profession would become extremely popular in comic book universes.

Television shows like "Sewn Up," in particular, might actually have a positive effect on the community. First, it encourages competition among the superhero fashion industry, which in turn breeds more production of clever and effective superhero costumes. Second, these shows would serve not only to promote the designers and entertain viewers, but also to increase awareness about the heroes (I think the models of Project Runway actually have their own show now). If you randomly heard about someone named "Most Excellent Superbat," a native of Japan whose power is "being rich," you'd likely think the worst However, if you saw him on "Sewn Up," you might suddenly find him more legitimate and trustworthy.. Of course, whether this trust is warranted is another question.

It is not such a stretch to imagine a superhero hiring a fashion designer. After all, if supervillains can hire a real estate agent to sell them abandoned warehouses and carnivals for a fee, why would heroes not be able to take advantage of the fashion trade? The only problem I can foresee is that it won't be cheap. Batman can afford a revamp to his costume, but Spider-Man can't. Perhaps this would be a market better suited to villains like the Calendar Man, who either make their money throug illegitimate means or just turn back on deals and don't pay altogether. As Spider-Man himself put it...


Unknown said...

Paging Edna Mode.

MrDave2176 said...

Depending on the universe you might see places like Joanne Fabrics or Michael's Crafts offering a do-it-yourself super-hero uniform kit.

It contains the unstable molecular fabric that you imprint with your super-power and instructions for fashioning it into a suit.

You can order goggles, gloves and various belts, buckles, pouches, and such from sports supplies stores (probably next door to the Joanne Fabrics) and you have an over-the-counter super hero uniform.

If your power doesn't destroy your clothing (like telepathy or telekinesis) you could just buy your outfit from the sports store all-up.

You could have a Craig's List for the super-set that deals in this sort of anonymous service. After all it doesn't do to have your designer know your secret identity.

A savvy designer might even feature suit-blanks that can be colored to order and accessorized to suit your needs. If the market is there there are ways to make money from it.

Erik said...

Relatively unknown, but talented designers might be eager to design a superhero costume for free, just to get their name out there. Even established designers might compete to make the costume of a very well known and popular hero. It would become a status symbol that could lead to more business from conventional clients.

ShadowBanker said...

Gregory - Yup!

MrDave -I still think there needs to be a market for one-on-one design consulting. Despite the availability you mention, I see lots of superheroes/villains with inferior costumes. It shouldn't be happening. Check out the BoneBlaster, for instance.

Erik - Definitely. I'm sure Ralph Lauren or whoever would jump at the chance to design a modernized superman outfit. It'd have a Polo crest and everything.

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