Barbara Gordon, aka the OG Batgirl, just got a fresh set of threads, the kind that come with a new creative team looking to carve their names into the Batgirl legacy.
Before you cry havoc and let slip the dogs of criticism, let’s think: why not have a new costume? New is better, everyone knows that. Plus a lady doesn’t like to lean on one wardrobe choice for too long, after all. MTV got the scoop on the uniform and was kind enough to share it with the whole interweb. Here endeth the lily-gilding.
Check it out:
Batgirl’s New Costume
So that’s that. Here’s what the new writers of the book had to say about artist Babs Tarr’s redesign of the classic suit: “Barbara is forced to make a new costume for herself when her old one becomes unavailable,” writer Cameron Stewart told MTV. “The new one is something she’s able to make herself, shopping at the various boutique and vintage stores in Burnside. It also reflects her youth and style.”
If you’re wondering why Barbara Gordon is sifting through thrift store bins, well, that looks like the direction the new creative team is taking. Instead of the “got-it-together” woman who lead the Birds of Prey and created the Oracle network, it looks like comic fans might be saddled with a young hipster version of Barbara Gordon. For instance:
“And that’s where we kick off our run – introducing this part of the city known for expensive coffee, fixie bikes, vintage shops and breakout bands,” writer Brendan Fletcher said. “Barbara allows herself to be immersed in youth culture for the first time, exploring the social side of life in Burnside.”
As for her personality, artist Babs Tarr said, “I am excited to bring some flirt, fun, and fashion to the title! I don’t think you see a lot of that in mainstream comics and I am excited to bring that to the table. Who doesn’t love a sassy super hero?”
If they’re going for a young fun Batgirl, then why bring Barbara Gordon back at all? Stephanie Brown, the most recent Batgirl before the controversial decision to uncripple Barbara, was a teenage, Buffy-esque, quip-throwing flirt machine. Why change Barbara into something she’s not? Who knows. Because hipsters, I guess. Be prepared for Barbara to develop a sudden interest in vinyl, mustachioed young men, and free-trade 100% green energy-efficient gluten-free mochaccinos. I don’t even know if that’s how you spell mochaccinos (mochachinos?), but I don’t have the required fucks to give to go look it up. Alright, let’s get back to that costume, shall we?
While I’ve plenty of snark to spread around, I’m going to be honest – I like a lot of the costume. The first thing that jumps out to me as a smart choice is the idea to de-emphasize the traditional tremendously boobalicious decolletage that is often the center of the superheroine’s usual getup.
I’m definitely for a more realistically armored torso piece that isn’t nipple-tight. I mean, I don’t want to throw spandex out of the comic book universe entirely, but there are guys who don’t wear spandex and it’s time some of the female characters got the same opportunity. Batgirl is obviously a great choice for stiffer armor – Wonder Woman might still be bulletproof in a millimeter of lycra, but Barbara Gordon sure isn’t. Giving her some of the thick material that Batman and Robin wear only makes sense.
I also like the short sassy cape with the snaps – the buttons add a nice military-chic look to the already Rocketeerish jacket, and the ability to disconnect the cape is a cool detail. Keeping the purple coloring adds a nice classic touch as well. The gloves synergize well with the cape snaps and the overall “fighter-pilot” vibe they’re cultivating. I also am really digging on the jaunty, low-slung pouch with the gunslinger tilt. Normally I’m not a big believer in the Jim Lee school of MOAR POUCHES, but Bat-characters have special dispensation in that regard. They gotta pull radiation-proof inflatable rafts out of somewhere, after all.
As much as I rage against the potential hipster future of the Dominoed Daredoll, I’m onboard with the “found costume” look. Of course, it doesn’t really make any sense for Barbara Gordon, considering her deep connections with all the heavy hitters and equipment-vendors of the DC Universe. I have to once again say how much better the thrift store aesthetic would work with a scraping-along-on-her-own character like Stephanie Brown. I’m going to try to stop referring to Stephanie Brown, but they’re really making it difficult. However, the kludged-together uniform reminds me of Rosy Higgin’s awesome entry into a fan Spider-Man redesign contest that I always loved. It has that same “desperate youngster” vibe:
I also enjoyed the theme song that came along with the redesign. Yeah, that’s right – a lot of the new direction for Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl lies on the shoulders of a musical muse. During the interview with MTV, Fletcher said, “Then I played him a piece of music and said, ‘Now, imagine her running across rooftops to THIS” and we both knew that we had our Batgirl! It’s really the perfect title for us to finally collaborate on as co-writers.'” Here’s that (pretty rad) song, to get a feel for the new Batgirl’s juice.
Here it is. I’m going to keep my criticisms to general aesthetics and functionality over “tradition” or “nerdboy rage.”
That’s right, I’m leading with the most controversial stance – fuck these boots, seriously. Ugh. Those are literally the boots that Kick-Ass wears. They look better at the end of lady-legs, of course, but these boots are just sloppy and clunky and terrible. They are too short, first of all. They need to be at least knee-high. They don’t have to be heels – I’m not trying to sexy her up – but if you look at the aesthetics of the costume, there’s a huge gap in the middle of her body that is just monotone purple. The belt tries to break it up, but it’s way too thin. A lot of superheroes have run into this problem since ditching the “over-underpants.” There’s a reason those underpants were there – to connect some of the colors from the top and the bottom. Or else you just get a big run of one color from insignia to shins. Observe:
See that big bland zone inside the green box? See how most of their body is covered with nothing interesting? That’s what the new Batgirl costume has. I’m not suggesting she wear the underwear of old, but I am saying that higher boots = less of that Null Zone where nothing interesting is going on. The zone shrinks dramatically with the careful use of tall-ass boots. Plus it’s a nice throwback to the fact that, you know, Batgirl is a superhero.
That problem dovetails nicely with the next problem: the pants stripe that comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere:
The black stripe starts in yellow boots and ends in purple jacket. It has no cohesive flow through the costume. It’s like, “Fuckin’, put a stripe in there man. Kids love stripes.” Now, I’m being needlessly harsh about pants stripes, but it’s only because it’s funny. I don’t actually care about pants stripes. However, honestly, it could use some flow. If the stripe continued up into her jacket and added some black to her jacket, it would go a long way toward spreading the colors all across the uniform. Alright, here’s the next thing that ain’t no good. It’s the hood.
This is where a functionality complaint comes in – what’s holding that cowl on? Enthusiasm?Batgirl is flipping and tumbling and fisticuffing her way through the douchier parts of Gotham. That cowl is sitting on hair. Glue is a non-starter. Hairclips sure aren’t going to hold it in place. There’s no strap. Hell even if it was super tight it doesn’t wrap around her head far enough to get traction, so it would just shoot off the top of her dome like a rubber band. Any thug with quick hands could just yank it off, assuming it already isn’t sitting on top of First Gotham Bank after an over-enthusiastic cartwheel.
It would only take a few minor fixes to make the current costume work. Here’s my first shot at it, combining all the things I just whined about:
The cowl is now connected by the neck in a more traditional way, and you could easily see Babs wearing some kind of shirt-piece that attaches to the hood under the jacket. I also brought the black stripe up onto the jacket, which also serves to break up some of that middle Null Zone I mentioned earlier. Instead of a formless strip of purple, there’s some shape and dynamism to it. Now, I don’t quite have the Photoshop acumen to create big boots from whole cloth, but if you imagine cyberpunky yellow boots starting about six inches below the bottom of the frame you’ll have a good idea of what that would look like.
Here’s another quick fix that might make the costume a little more fitting: