Alright, so if anyone knows anything about me, its that I am 1) way into comics and 2) way into fashion. So I was understandably excited to learn that Stephanie Brown, AKA Spoiler, AKA Robin, AKA DC’s Sexism Kitchen Sink Recipient, AKA the new Batgirl, would be retiring Cassandra Cain’s black leather fetish rags in favor of her own new cowl.
Batgirl is an internationally recognized character, a brand, a symbol, a story that means you can take on Batman’s emblems and stand up for justice no matter who you are, even if you’re JUST A GIRL. Yvonne Craig’s Barbara Gordon Batgirl is the most recognizable version, but slap a Bat-symbol on a girl in a cool costume and you’ve got yourself a new Batgirl. The simplicity of that formula and the near-universal love for the character sparked the Draw Batgirl meme that swept the blogs a few years back. Cool costume + Bat-symbol = New Batgirl.
Which brings us to Stephanie Brown’s new Bat-uniform. I am less than amazed. Where’s the “cool costume” part? The math is simple, show your work. Does this look like Batgirl, the globally recognizable character? Does it look like Stephanie Brown, the fan-favorite female heroine? No, it looks like a generic Legion of Superheroes uniform with a cowl and a Bat-symbol.
And a utility garter.
Is Cable running an accessories store now? (Shoulder pad arsenals half off this weekend only.) You know what else really works in women’s fashion? Horizontal stripes. Ask anyone. Those ribbed sections may work on Ultimate Giant Man’s costume, but unless Steph’s gone meta, I’m not seeing the logic. And the hip-tilted utility belt? That doesn’t look hot. It looks like Batgirl is trying to wear Batman’s gear instead of her own. Or she recently lost some weight. Planning some topical female-aimed storylines à la Marvel Divas, DC?
Color-wise, I get trying to include purple in the costume as a nod to Stephanie’s Spoiler days, but why the side-striping? Yvonne Craig’s shimmering purple Batgirl was gorgeous AND kicked ass. Here we’ve got purple and black (perhaps not the best color combo), and a complementary yellow that unfortunately also clashes with Steph’s blonde hair. Leave her hair in the cowl, please. This mask cutout concept worked well with Barbara’s red hair in the cartoon.
The costume doesn’t flow with any of the former Batgirl costumes. At least with the Robins, all of the costumes have a structure to them that makes them unique and maintains the branding. What works for those costumes is that they all look like The Boy Wonder, but they’re all personalized to the character under the domino mask. This new Batgirl barely has a connection to the past uniforms, and instead looks like something that came from the reject pile at Project: Rooftop.
DC, I want to like your female superhero comics more than anything. If you have a target audience for these, I am the bright red center dot. Aim better.
I don’t really like Steph (when she’s not having controversial things happen to her, she’s less fun than wallpaper paste) but you know. No girl deserves a costume with a thigh belt. Not one.
The tilted utility belt does give Steph a bit of a… manga flair, here. And unless it’s glued to her uniform in that off-kilter position, I’d worry about an errant criminal fist or hook or claw or vine getting trapped in the excess space between Bat-hip and Bat-buckle, possibly causing more serious problems for Steph than a simple fashion SNAFU.
That said, go Steph go! It’s good to see her back in action.
You killed me with the Cable reference! So true though – I mean, WTF is the purpose of that and how the hell is it staying on her thigh? BUT at least she’s not in heels and her boobs aren’t the size of Jupiter.
I actually liked Cassandra Cain’s outfit the best, but I like that they give each Bat-person their own look.
I am willing to bet that the hip-tilted belt is, at best, an attempt to draw the eye and emphasize the proportional difference between her hips and her waist–its too big to fit around the waist yet too snug to wrap all the way around the hips. I highly doubt such a detail was consciously thought through–more likely, one of those stylistic choices steeped in the social subconscious ideal of what a woman’s body looks like.
According to the artist, the belt is an homage to Han Solo. Which I think justifies anything. The rest of it, search me. I never considered eggplant a Batgirl color, even if it is Steph’s trademark.
I have to agree, the purple ribbing on the sides (Ultimate Batgirl) and the “utility garter” are awful, but at least it’s not as bad as the midriff bearing Huntress costume that Jim Lee designed during “Hush”, “let’s ignore that she’s a bad ass that wants to be taken seriously against bad guys and the mob and make her look like a crime fighting stripper…”
I’ve always liked Steph, and I think you’re spot on calling her, “DC’s Sexism Kitchen Sink Recipient” I too was hoping for something more streamlined and impressive and less generic.