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Good Comics For Kids
Inside Good Comics For Kids

Costume Change

Robin Brenner

746560 molly super e1287859616693 300x217 Costume ChangeHalloween is tomorrow, so young men and women’s thoughts turn to costumes.  Well, my thoughts turn to costumes.  I enjoy any excuse to dress up, and Halloween is the best excuse to create and don a new persona.  I do so every year at work, and love taking the subway in full regalia (you can guess which one of the following list I’m dressing up as this year.)

Comics and manga fans know that costumes aren’t just for Halloween — they’re for fan conventions (and in my case, library conventions) and can be a wonderful way of expressing love for a character or work.  I love seeing how many of the young trick or treat-ers coming into our library Halloween celebration break out comics-related costumes.  With that in mind, I asked all our contributors here at Good Comics for Kids to chime in with examples of their favorite costumes from the world of comics.  These did not have to be superhero costumes, although those might feel like the obvious choices, but could also be outfits that make a character iconic.  Click on each image for a bigger look.

We’d love to hear what your favorite costumes are in the comments!

Detective Comics 273 150x150 Costume ChangeCharacter: Batman
Title: Detective Comics #27 (1937) – present
Artist: Bob Kane and various
There’s a reason why Batman and Spider-Man are still so beloved to this day and their costumes are one of their appeals. You can’t top the appeal of Batman. His costume is one of the most recognized designs of all-time. Plus Batman’s got all the great gadgets in his utility belt.–Mike Pawuk



Beta Ray Bill e1288448563468 150x150 Costume ChangeCharacter: Beta Ray Bill
Title: Thor #337 (Marvel 1983)
Artist: Walt Simonson
Beta Ray Bill is a unique character. Prior to his introduction in 1983, in history of Marvel Comics’ Thor issues, no one other than the Norse god of thunder was ever able to wield Thor’s mighty hammer Mjolnir. Only those noble and pure in heart could lift the hammer. His armor is a variation on the original Thor design, but given a science fiction upgrade. When I saw this back in 1983 he instantly became one of my favorite heroes and still is to this day.–Mike Pawuk


BlueBeetle e1288384705846 150x150 Costume ChangeCharacter: Blue Beetle (a.k.a. Jaime Reyes)
Title: Blue Beetle
Artist: Cully Hamner
I may annoy Blue Beetle purists out there who prefer the original costume design, but when young Jaime Reyes was taken over by an alien force to become the latest Blue Beetle, his costume reboot was as cool and dramatic as seeing a young Hispanic teenager take on a starring superhero role.  Cully Hamner is a great artist, and the black and blue geometric design of the Beetle’s costume is slick, iconic, and visually dynamic (just what a good superhero outfit should be.) I think Edna Mode would approve.–Robin Brenner

Catwoman e1288384605800 150x150 Costume ChangeCharacter: Catwoman (a.k.a. Selina Kyle)
Title: Catwoman: Dark End of the Street
Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Catwoman has always been a sexy vixen, but she, like all her superheroine sisters, has been plagued by costumes designed for ogling rather than practicality.  Cooke’s take on her costume kept the body-hugging design (and really, she wouldn’t be Catwoman if it didn’t show off her curves) but adds in goggles, an pointy eared skullcap, and combat boots.  There’s no spike heels or barely covering strips of cloth here.–Robin Brenner


swfu darth vader e1288448639108 149x150 Costume ChangeCharacter: Darth Vader
Title: Star Wars (various)
Artist: Howard Chaykin, Dave Dorman, Jan Duursema, and various
Everyone loves a man in black even if he is a Sith Lord. Dark, brooding, and threatening with a lightsaber, Darth Vader is one of the most recognizable bad guys in cinematic history and his popularity continues in comic books to this day.–Mike Pawuk



CalamityJack e1287693706340 150x150 Costume ChangeCharacter: Jack
Title: Calamity Jack
Artist: Nathan Hale
While, I love Rapunzel’s outfit, I loved Jack in His Bowler hat even more!  It spoke to the time, made him look quite dapper and well… I’m sucker for a bowler hat and that Victorian era male dress.–Esther Keller




ParakissGeorge e1288295366729 150x150 Costume ChangeCharacter: Jouji “George” Koizumi
Title: Paradise Kiss
Artist: Ai Yazawa
Someone from Paradise Kiss just had to make it on to this list.  Ai Yazawa created THE fashion manga with this series, but she also made it one of the most bittersweet teen coming-of-age romances I’ve read to date.  The brilliant young fashion designer who steals Yukari’s heart, George, with his buzzed blue hair, earrings, and waistcoats is part glam rock, part 1930s dandy, and all awesome.  No one can pull off that combination quite so smoothly.–Robin Brenner

180px hindsight1 150x134 Costume ChangeCharacter: Hindsight Lad
Title: New Warriors
Artist: Darick Robertson
As most of you know, I have a fondness for the dweeb that is Hindsight Lad.  Dressed in pajamas and wearing a football helmet with side-view mirrors attached (the better to see what you *should* have done), Carlton LaFroyge may be the goofiest unofficial member of any superhero team ever.  Sure, eventually he joins the team as a real member with a real uniform, but he never quite worked for me after that.–Eva Volin

MollyRunaways 150x150 Costume ChangeCharacter: Molly Hayes
Title: Runaways (all volumes)
Artist: Vary…. depending on the volume
I was browsing through my collection, looking to see what popped out at me and well, it was Runaways. Not all the characters have a distinctive look, but Molly has her trademark hat.  It’s always some sort of hat, and it’s always floppy and hangs over her ears.  I always know it’s Molly… and well, it helps foster her kid-like endearing quality. Sometimes, less is more.–Esther Keller


PrincessPrincess e1288379639511 150x148 Costume ChangeCharacters:The Princesses: Toru Kouno, Yuujiro Shihoudani, and Mikoto Yutaka)
Title: Princess Princess
Artist: Mikiyo Tsuda
As a very occasional gothic lolita dresser, I love the costumes the boys in Princess Princess (Digital Manga) are forced to wear. They have the best clothes, even if they hate having to wear them. Mitsukazu Mihara’s works were my first introduction to gothic lolita style and I still love her characters’ outfits.–Snow Wildsmith


RapunzelCalamityJack e1287861442103 150x150 Costume ChangeCharacter: Rapunzel
Title: Calamity Jack
Artist: Nathan Hale
Shannon and Dean Hale’s Rapunzel has always steered clear of fairy tale cliches (no filmy dresses or trailing sleeves here), but in Calamity Jack we see how Rapunzel chooses to dress herself in the big city.  Shannon Hale herself has referred to this get up as Rapunzel’s superhero outfit, and with the boots, braid lassos, dashing frock coat, and breeches, I just love it.–Robin Brenner


Sesshomaru e1288105488521 150x150 Costume ChangeCharacter: Sesshomaru
Title: InuYasha
Artist: Rumiko Takahashi
It’s almost impossible to separate great character design from great costume design with Sesshomaru, as some of the elements of his costume are, in fact, part of his body. (That large, Wayland Jennings-and-Madam boa he wears is actually fur, I think, and I’ve never successfully determined if the stripes on his face are an affection or a marking.) Sesshomaru’s robes suit him, though; they’re regal and austere, made from a white fabric that’s as stiff and icy as his demeanor. At the same time, his costume is also a little decadent (see fur boa, above), helping distinguish him from his pesky half-brother InuYasha, who prefers more of a wash-n-wear approach to dressing. Also: I love the fact that Sesshomaru’s robes never, ever get dirty.–Katherine Dacey

Story of Saiunkoku e1288379968529 150x150 Costume ChangeCharacters: Shurei Hong
Title: The Story of Saiunkoku
Artist: Kairi Yura
I’m a sucker for long, flowing historical-ish costumes, such as in works like Bride of the Water God (Dark Horse) or Time and Again (Yen Press). I just received the first volume of The Story of Saiunkoku (VIZ) to review and the sort-of Ancient China setting lends itself to beautiful costumes for both men and women. Lots of long flowing sleeves, long flowing ribbons, long flowing hair, etc.–Snow Wildsmith


SnoopyAce e1288384380165 150x150 Costume Change

Character: Snoopy as the World War One Flying Ace
Title: Peanuts
Artist: Charles Schulz
One of the reasons I adore Peanuts is that Snoopy has a rich and weird fantasy life. Though he’s pretended to be all sorts of things — a chef, a novelist, a frat boy — my favorite has always been the World War One Flying Ace. The costume is very simple, comprised of a pair of goggles, a leather flight helmet, and a scarf. Its simplicity, however, is essential to the whole conceit; Snoopy looks like a kid playing dress-up, with a few symbolic props to help him get into character.–Katherine Dacey

Amazing Fantasy 15 e1288448724782 150x150 Costume ChangeCharacter: Spider-Man
Title: Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962) – various Spider-Man titles
Artist: Steve Dikto, Todd McFarlane, John Romita, Jr., Arthur Adams, and many others
One of the best costume designs ever created, the costume is iconic, kid-friendly, and fully protects Peter Parker’s identity from anyone (until he briefly revealed his identity to the world – but now that’s been retconned).–Mike Pawuk



Wallflower Sunako school uniform e1288216570372 150x150 Costume Change

Character: Sunako
Title: The Wallflower
Artist: Tomoko Hayakawa
I don’t like Sunako’s dumpy, I-don’t-care-about-my-appearance clothes any more than her guy friends/roommates do, but I love it when she gets dressed up. She’ll go from lolita to Halloween to crazed killer and the transition is always funny. I even like her school uniform and I freaked out once at an anime convention when there was a girl cosplaying as Sunako!–Snow Wildsmith

WilliamEmma e1287863271881 150x143 Costume ChangeCharacter: William Jones
Title: Emma
Artist: Kaoru Mori
Like Esther, I have a weakness for men in Victorian dress, and William from Kaoru Mori’s series Emma is always impeccably turned out.  The visual detail and attention to historical accuracy in costume (and buildings and carriages and cutlery and…everything) is what makes Emma’s world so rich.  The emotions are what make it a great story, but the sense of being transported firmly to another time and place is what gives that romance context.–Robin Brenner

WWnewwwcostumefull e1287693484743 150x150 Costume ChangeCharacter: Wonder Woman
Title: Wonder Woman #600
Artist: Jim Lee
Why: Jim Lee caught a lot of flack from Wonder Woman purists for her new outfit, but I say bravo: the jacket is practical and classy (perfect for crime-busting-to-evening scenarios), and the tights offer coverage while still showing off the character’s great gams. Lee also earns props for ditching Wonder Woman’s sky-high red boots in favor of flats; I don’t know about you, but the furthest I’ve ever been able to run in 3″ heels is about six feet. Wonder Woman now looks like more like the late, great Florence Griffith-Joyner than a Victoria’s Secret model, which is how it should be!–Katherine Dacey

Image Credits:
Molly from Runaways: Runaways, Takeshi Miyazawa, Marvel Comics 2004
Batman from Detective Comics: Bob Kane, Detective Comics, 1937
Beta Ray Bill from Thor: Walt Simonson, Marvel Comics, 1983
Blue Beetle from Blue Beetle: Cully Hamner, DC Comics, 2006
Selina Kyle from Catwoman: The Dark End of the Street: Darwyn Cooke, DC Comics, 2002
Darth Vader from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Brian Ching, Dark Horse Comics, 2008
Jack from Calamity Jack: Nathan Hale, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2010
George from Paradise Kiss: Ai Yazawa, Tokyopop, 2002
Hindsight Lad from New Warriors: Darrick Robinson, Marvel Comics, 1993
Molly from Runaways: Jo Chen, Marvel Comics, 2003
The Princesses from Princess Princess: Mikiyo Tsuda, Digital Manga, 2006
Rapunzel from Calamity Jack: Nathan Hale, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2010
Sesshormaru from InuYasha: Rumiko Takahashi, VIZ, 2004
Snoopy from Peanuts: Charles Schulz, Fantagraphics, 1965
Spider-Man from Amazing Fantasy #15: Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Marvel Comics, 1962
Sunako from The Wallflower: Tomoko Hayakawa, Del Rey Manga, 2004
William Jones from Emma: Kaoru Mori, CMX Manga, 2009
Wonder Woman: Jim Lee, DC Comics, 2010

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Robin Brenner About Robin Brenner

Robin Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. When not tackling programs and reading advice at work, she writes features and reviews for publications including VOYA, Early Word, Library Journal, and Knowledge Quest. She has served on various awards committees, from the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards to the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards. She is the editor-in-chief of the graphic novel review website No Flying No Tights.

Comments

  1. susan norwood says:

    My students all like graphic novels. Smile, Twilight, Bone, The Runaways and various Manga titles all go over well in my classroom library. What are the top manga titles that you would recommend, given that I pay for them with my own funds? I know about the rating system, but don’t know which are the best series to have in a middle school classroom.

    • Robin Brenner says:

      Susan, first I’d suggest you take a look at our most recent columns including Lori Henderson’s All Ages Comics and Manga and Katherine Dacey’s Good Manga for Kids — both let you know the age range and feature solid reviews (Lori’s are at the finish of her weekly posts.)

      Off the top of my head, the titles that are popular and engaging for middle schoolers in my library are: Hikaru no Go, Whistle! (and various sports manga like Prince of Tennis), Cardcaptor Sakura and Magic Knight Rayearth (the new omnibus editions are a great value for both series), Fullmetal Alchemist, Anything by Nari Kusakawa (Palette of 12 Secret Colors, Two Flowers for the Dragon), Leave it to PET!, and Yotsuba&!.

      This is a great prompt for us to create a list of manga titles particularly suited to middle schools, so I’ll get the crew started working on that.

  2. Maria says:

    You’re joking, right? Catwoman, Dark End of the Street IS NOT an all ages book. It has pretty mature themes like prostitution.

    • Robin Brenner says:

      Maria, we weren’t saying Catwoman: Dark End of the Street is an all ages title. I was noting the costume, rather than the title itself.

      Here at Good Comics for Kids we cover titles that range from kids comics up through teens. In my humble opinion, Catwoman as a series is fine for teens. You are correct, though, that I would not hand it out to readers under thirteen.

  3. Maria says:

    Maybe you should put a disclaimer on that title then. Since it’s under the good comics for kids section, it’s easy to misconstrue it as such.

  4. Nathan Hale says:

    A TRUE WWI Flying Ace Snoopy costume is the goggles, hat and scarf, and nothing else. It takes real dedication.

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