Top Five Month (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far) concludes with a look at the brilliant costume design work of John Romita Sr. Romita was SUCH an excellent costume designer that almost all of the prominent costumes that he designed are STILL being used today, while most other costumes get changed over the years. Here are his top five costumes that he designed (or co-designed)!
One thing you will notice on this list is that Romita goes for simple 9 times out of 10, but simple is often the most memorable. In the case of this Brother Voodoo costume, perhaps it is a bit TOO simple, but still, this is a memorable costume that was used pretty much constantly for decades.
A bit more elaborate than other Romita designs, the Prowler costume is a striking design that, again, has never been changed (it has been slightly upgraded over the years, but only slightly). Who could do any better?
The Shocker’s costume is interesting – it’s a great costume (and, again, is still in use today) but it really doesn’t SAY “Shocker,” does it? I mean, it certainly is a logical costume once you know what his deal is (he vibrates stuff, so he has a padded costume to protect himself), but it’s interesting that you would never get “oh, this guy must vibrate stuff!” from looking at the design.
As I mentioned before, something you will see a lot of with Romita is simple designs. He is definitely a follower of the Ron Frenz Rule of Costume Design. Romita designed the Firestar outfit for the Spider-Man cartoon of the time, and even though this one actually WAS changed (Darick Robertson changed it during his New Warriors run), it has since returned to Romita’s design.
I’m torn on the Rhino. On the one hand, it’s an awesome look that, once again, really has never been improved upon over the decades he’s been around. On the other hand, would a different artist really have gone much differently from Romita had someone else designed it? If you think so, then bump the costume up a few more notches…
This is one of those designs where I think the awesome Romita costume is the main thing keeping the character around over the years (through at least two incarnations of the character).
This is the first one on the list where Romita’s design was not the original design. Romita re-designed Black Widow’s costume when she was about to star in Amazing Adventures. He made it sleek and, naturally, very simple – yet memorable. This was another one where it was re-designed over the years (including one version during the Crossing that violated the Frenz Rule) but ultimately returned to the Romita design.
This is a cool design, but I think that later redesigns of the Ms. Marvel costume probably actually improved on the Romita design and it seems kind of weird putting a design in the top five when it isn’t even the best design for that particular character (the Cockrum design is tops, I would say).
Falcon is interesting because I honestly don’t know when Romita came aboard, design-wise. I know he did the red costume (and later, the red costume with wings, which is the one that is basically still used today), but I am unsure if he or Gene Colan designed the original green costume. Colan drew it first, but I would not be surprised if Romita designed it, but it was early enough that I could see it coming before Romita was the go-to “design everyone’s costume” guy.
In any event, just the red Falcon costume alone merits an inclusion on the top five, I think, as it is a great design that, like I said, is still basically used today.
One of the most famous costumes out there, but likely more because the CHARACTER is so famous. In addition, I don’t know if I wouldn’t rate John Byrne’s Wolverine costume over this one. Still, it’s a great design and, again, with slight adjustments it is still in use today.
This is a tricky one because Marv Wolfman designed the costume initially and Romita just tweaked Wolfman’s original design. The helmet was there and the idea of a star pattern was there. Romita added the trim on the pants, reduced the star pattern from five to three and added the distinct star on the helmet. Enough to call it a Romita co-design? I think so, hence its inclusion here, as it is a really cool costume.
Now we’re just getting into iconic territory. Decades later, no one touches Romita’s design (streamlined it a bit, yes, but change it? No). Just a brilliant costume. One of those costumes that takes a character and makes him/her stand out so much.
Like Bullseye, we’re just talking iconic right here. The costume is practically more famous than the character itself!!!
Okay, that’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!
That’s it for Top Five Month! Hope you enjoyed it! Hopefully I won’t wait multiple years between installments next time around!