I love Halloween. It’s easily my favorite holiday. Christmas is a close second thanks to all the nostalgia (my parents do an epic warm Christmas). But there’s so much pressure on Christmas (just like New Years) that it can start to feel like obligation more than celebration and even I grow weary of the music and everything that comes with it which seems to creep into our lives earlier and earlier each year.
But Halloween never gets aggressive or greedy. It just hangs back being awesome. Go out and have the night of your life, or just hang back and eat chocolate and watch scary movies. Both are completely acceptable.
So it bums me out every year, especially the last five or so when superheroes have become so popular and mainstream to see so many lazy superhero costumes and since this is a column about women in comics we'll focus on the superheroine costumes especially. The “super sexy” versions of costumes (that were already reasonably high on the sexy to begin with) get pretty tedious too, but my beef is not with costumes that are “too sexy” my beef is with costumes that are lazy as all get out or worse, don’t make a lick of goddamn sense (and not in the good way that things sometimes don’t make sense). Here are a few that really ticked me off in my hunt this year…
So you wanna be Batman or Batgirl this year for Halloween? Did you know that all you need are jeans, heels, and a black sequined corset, some yellow construction paper, markers, glue, and a pair of shitty scissors? Don’t believe me? Well look right here doesn’t she look JUST like a Bat-hero? She could be ANY OF THEM. And if you have $29.99 you don’t even need anything except the jeans and heels. You will win all the costume contests I’m sure of it! You’ll be happy to know they also have versions of this shit show for Wonder Woman and Supergirl too!
I feel like this is a real world Elvira, dressed up as Wonder Woman for Halloween. First of all DIBS ON THAT IDEA. GREATEST HALLOWEEN THEMED SHORT STORY EVER. Secondly, is that what’s actually happening here? If they changed the name to ELVIRA GOES AS WONDER WOMAN COSTUME I would fully support this costume. I do love how the stockings, shoes, and gloves are not EVEN TRYING to be Wonder Woman. It’s like the designers were trying and then half way through just went “Ah. Fuck it.”
But at least the Elvira Wonder Woman costume made half of a try...this is basically just a long shirt with a Wonder Woman logo and it looks like half cape that has stars on it. Nevermind that Diana almost never wears a cape and certainly never wears one that looks like that. So goddamn lazy.
It’s kinda funny that in the year that we got the best designed Spider-Woman ever (SPIDER-GWEN!) we also got an influx of some of the craziest “Lady Spider Sorta” costumes ever. Some of these have been around for a while now - the one on the very end is a now classically derided ridiculous "spider-something or other" costume. I've never seen this Jessica Drew Spider-Woman version before - and it's surprisingly accurate but I'd be surprised if many would go for it as it's both not terribly flattering and most people wouldn't recognize it. The full bodysuit with the darker "Amazing Spider-Man color profile" isn't half bad actually. But these two new additons this year (the two on the far left) are simply mind boggling. The one that looks like a swimsuit with a web design...why...just why? What is the point? There's nothing spider about it except the weird spider webbed back... just...WHY? As for the one on the far left...well, if you're going as Stripper Spider-Woman it makes perfect sense...or Campy Spider-Woman maybe? Anyway, off to gouge out my eyes...be right back!
Course these Spider-Man/Spider-Woman costume/pajamas that have a hood give me hope that maybe next year we'll see at least some version of Spider-Gwen...too optimistic?
Of course us informed comic readers know that costume sites are carefully avoiding copyright/trademark issues by avoiding saying something like "Power Girl" while still trying to lead people that might want to buy a Power Girl costume to their site...but to call it "Womens Powerful Superhero Costume" I mean, you have to have big giant stupid balls to call name it that and then place it next to this picture:
One of my favorite things of all (that’s a sarcastic “favorite”) is the fact that superheroine costumes (and to a lesser degree the actual costumes that inspire them) are generally so generic and formed on the basis of “generic sexy black catsuit” that costume companies aren’t even mincing words. Here’s your “Sexy Black Zipper Catsuit” good as a base for ANY NUMBER of costumes. Good guy? Bad guy? Doesn't matter! So long as you're a chick it can all start here! I wish they weren’t right on the money with that one, but they are!
Easily my favorite aspect of the superhero costumes nightmare is when they try to come up with their own. Then you get classics like this "Deluxe Crimefighting Crusader Womens Costume." It has a strapless black bodysuit, bright yellow Batman-like half cape, giant yellow arm covers that look like lightning bolts (?) and inexplicably...cat ears?
Seriously, you see something like this and you start to feel like really, costume companies are just fucking with you. Like, they play mad libs each year to come up with costumes. Like they have a few dozen "attributes" in a hat like "lightning bolt armbands" "corset" "vinyl bodysuit" "spider web effects" "animal fur" "cat ears" etc. And then start with SEXY and then just draw five random attributes and throw it all together. That seems like the only way to explain a costume like this one.
Or maybe they have a prize each year for the most batshit crazy design (that is also sexy and generic).
What I REALLY need to know though, is if a woman buys this costume and wears it out...if someone asks her what she is...what does she actually say? Does she say, well obviously I'm a Deluxe Crimfighting Crusder? Does she say, I'm Catwoman if she had lightning powers? Does she say, I'm Batman and Catwoman's daughter with a lightning fetish...Or Lightning lady with a cat fetish?
I MUST KNOW.
Man, all of this nonsense really gives me a whole new (renewed?) respect for the fine art of cosplay. Let's end on a more upbeat note. Here are some awesome innovative takes on superhero costumes. Bonus points for a bit less emphasis on the sexy (or at least the "cheap")
Powerpuff Girls! Given that they have new life in the form of comics and animation this is newly timely (thanks to Fred in the comments for coplayer names!):
The best Wonder Woman (and Wonder Girl) dresses I’ve ever seen, plus an absolutely inspired Selina Kyle costume TO DIE FOR:
And little girls in Wonder Woman costumes that also include tutus? They make life worth living. I am seriously considering having a child just so I can have this moment. Perfection:
Costume I'd most like to see this year? Well, I've seen some cool Nimona cosplay, but I'd love to see Nimona in her "I'M A SHARK" form. I figure it's easy enough, you get the shark costume. You add little hilarious/obvious boobies inside the costume and then slap a name tag on yourself that says "Hello My Name is: Nimona" DONE. For the people that get it...greatest costume ever...for those that don't...well then you're still an awesome shark with hilarious/adorable little boobs. It's a WIN-WIN.
While Jem isn't a "traditional superhero" (though she's certainly got the duality/secret identity thing down) doing a Jem costume - also newly timely given the forthcoming 2015 movie AND comic is inspired. There will be a million Jems next year if I'm placing any bets, so get in early and do it this year. You'll look extra ahead of the curve. There is a more "accurate" Jem costume around, but it's pretty cheap looking. However this one, called Gem (for licensing/trademark reasons or for lack of spell check?) is actually pretty good. It's definitely on the skimpy/sexy side but that's pretty fitting for the Jem character - a pop star - as opposed trying to hugely UP the sexy content of an already sexy superheroine costume. Anyway, the right shoes, the right wig, accessories, and of course badass makeup and you’re there. With the right additions it captures the look and feel of the show better than the more accurate version. Plus what a great excuse to wear amazing make up. That is what Halloween is all about, right? Getting to cut loose and be a bit different than the every day? I know that's the thing I always come back to.
What about you guys? Dressing up this year? Will you be a superhero? Are you always or are you never a superhero? What are your favorite costumes? Spill.
Kelly Thompson is a freelance writer living in Manhattan. She is the author of the superhero novel THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING recently optioned to become a film, and her new novel STORYKILLER is out now. You can find Kelly all over the place, but twitter may be the easiest: @79semifinalist