Those who travel through the Marvel Universe's Ten Realms of Asgard must not only be of hardy stock, they must also armor both their bodies and spirit. Aldrif Odinsdotter, the title character of Marvel's "Angela: Asgard's Assassin," certainly meets the initial requirement, having recently discovered that her parents are the Asgardian king Odin and his wife Freyja. Before that, she was already a proven warrior with an unbreakable spirit, having been raised by the angelic warriors of the realm of Heven and worked as a wandering mercenary.
Angela wore some armor in the many clashes she's found herself in over the years, but in Issue #3, by writers Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett and artists Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans, she donned a new set of winged battle togs worthy of her grand nature as a warrior of two realms. CBR News spoke with Jimenez about crafting Angela's new look, his sense of her as a character, and his philosophy on costume redesigns.
CBR News: Before we get into the details of Angela's new costume, I'd like to talk about your sense of the character. Which of her physical, mental and emotional qualities do you want to make sure you capture when you depict her on the page?
Phil Jimenez: Angela's physicality, her heritage, her stoicism and her skill set are important qualities to capture on the page, I think. She's a very internal character, which can be tough from an acting standpoint, so any time she gets to smile or snarl, I'm happy. The ribbons, which convey her emotions the way a puppy's tail does, have been really fun to use, especially when they give her emotional state away.
You've done a lot of design work both for DC and Marvel, so I assume it's something you enjoy, but what is it about coming up with looks for new characters and tweaking the looks of established ones that's so appealing?
I tend to design characters from the "inside" out; that is to say, I try to figure out who the character is, where they come from, and what sort of costumes came before them. For example, in the pre-52 DC Universe, it's a clearly established tradition that superheroes have been wearing garish costumes (with masks and capes) for decades; it's a tradition that's been normalized in that universe. Same with the Marvel Universe, so when I'm designing a character I try to think not only about their age, gender and personality, but the worlds they exist in and what makes sense for that character to wear or not wear based on the precedent set in that world.
I also tend to use a lot of fashion in my design; you can certainly see those sensibilities in my designs for Donna Troy, the young Kraven, and others. The trouble I find is that those references might not always be apparent to other artists drawing them, and invariably subtle things in those costumes -- the cut of a neckline, the sling of a belt, the kind of boots -- get lost along the way. This has happened to me a lot, and typically it makes me wary about designing overly complicated costumes. Not in this case, however!
Typically, I'm not designing for cosplayers and filmmakers, I'm designing for the character in the printed world, in the universe they live in -- although cosplay and Hollywood have definitely become considerations in the design process (Marvel Studios in particular seems to be doing a fantastic job of translating these costumes into "real life," and I'm awed by their efforts).
How much freedom were you given in coming up with the way Siriana of the Aesir's bridal dress appears when it's worn by Angela?
I actually asked a lot of questions to the team about what this costume should be and why, what Angela would wear, what Angela thought about sex and sexualization, her people and culture, etc. I took a lot of pre-existing material and started to play with it, trying to make an Angela that was both impressive and "operatic." Someone who would own a room when she walked into it, and someone who would literally shine off the page (I desperately wanted her armor to be silver and white because I knew how that would look on paper and on screen; she would gleam among a troop of heroes dressed in dark blues and blacks.
I was given quite a bit of freedom and did a lot of design work, trying to figure the costume out. The only thing I really had to keep were her facial tattoos and her ribbons. I realize the final look was over the top, but I thought it totally appropriate for the character as I understood her. I knew it was going to be "a lot of look," but I also knew Angela is "a lot of character." And I also knew that if folks hated it, it could change down the line. It didn't have to be permanent.
My first impressions upon seeing Angela's new duds were that they definitely play up the fierceness of the character.
Angela is a big character. She's an Asgardian goddess, she's an angel. Angela isn't Daredevil or Black Widow -- she's not a street fighter or a girl from a small-town fighting local crime. She's the sister of Thor and Loki of Asgard, and she's fighting dark elves and demons and the Warriors Three. She's traversing dimensions on her quest to protect her sister from their parents Odin and Freyja with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Everything about her screams operatic, big, over the top.
More than anything, I wanted that character to have a majesty to her. I wanted her in white and silver armor. I wanted the big mane of hair. I wanted the wings, because they give her such an impressive scope when she's surrounded by other characters. I wanted hints of Asgard and Heven, and even anime -- I wanted her to look like she belonged in that universe but was like no one we'd seen in that universe before. I wanted her to look otherworldly, which is what she is.
I enjoy how the costume is sort of a blend of her two cultures, the armored warriors of Asgard and the winged angels of Heven. One of the biggest ways it does that, of course, is by giving her wings, but besides giving her a connection to the culture that raised her, what else do Angela's wings bring out in the character?
Ironically, I asked if I could give her wings because I felt that the wings gave her that majesty I was talking about earlier. The costume needed "something," and the wings were it. It's a nice touch, especially since they're made of metal. They are not delicate angel wings but the hard, razor-sharp wings of an assassin.
You did keep a couple elements from Angela's previous costume like her helmet, which is still fairly similar, and as you mentioned, she still has the long flowing ribbons.
There are actually a lot of elements from the previous costume in this one -- they're just modified. We covered up much of her skin, gave her a new headdress, rethought her battle skirt. But much of the armor is similar to the previous incarnation. Colored in golds, it's more obvious.
How does it feel drawing this costume in action? And what's it like drawing a character whose look you created interacting with world famous characters like Thor, Loki and the Guardians of the Galaxy?
I think she looks great in action. She looks like she can go toe to toe with Thor, which I love. I just can't wait to draw the Angela/Rocket Raccoon mini we've all been clamoring for.
I know Angela's costume is a radical change, and some people loved it and some didn't. I love costumes in superhero comics, especially big, over-the-top costumes you can really play with in cosmic settings. This costume is certainly no more absurd than the last one, which was essentially a space bikini with thigh-high boots, but it makes a statement about the character, her background and the universe she inhabits.
Time will tell if it's a statement readers respond to. In this day and age of "practical," "film-ready" costumes, so many fans and friends I know worry about how a costume will translate into the movies (which drives me bonkers; let the costumers and producers and actors worry about that, it's their job), I took great pleasure in going a little old school with this armor, and designing something so outlandish, and yet so appropriate, for the character on the printed page. And I bet it would look sickening if it ended up on the big screen in a Thor or Guardians sequel.