Friday, July 08, 2016

Spandex Versus Armor

There are two schools of thought when it comes to super-hero outfits: form and function. This is also known as the dreaded Spandex versus Armor debate. This may not be a major debate for most comics; if it becomes an issue for your romance comic it's an obvious cue that divorce is not going to be an option. However, for comics with a little bit of action this can be a serious issue.

[For the purposes of this discussion, "Spandex" means "any outfit made of a material tight enough to reveal anatomical details, usually made of (but not limited to) Spandex". This also includes futuristic materials that are render the wearer invulnerable if the material happens to be skin-tight. "Armor" means "any bulky outfit designed to protect the wearer from harm"; this can include any suit of medieval armor, powered armor, or even modern military armor.)

There are a number of issues to consider here, and they are all going to come down to some interesting political debates. Putting those aside for a moment, some characters prefer Spandex, others armor; it depends on a small number of factors. Generally, if the character has some degree of invulnerability (that is, he's tougher than most armors), odds are good that he's going to prefer Spandex. Characters that prefer stealth or mobility will generally also prefer Spandex. This is also the choice for those who like to flaunt their bodies; being a hero leading an active lifestyle does have its advantages.

On the other hand, characters espousing knightly ideals or those that are all-too-aware of their mortality are going to prefer armor. Armor is also the choice of the tech-based character as it allows them to show off more of their technology as well protect it. Characters with military or police origins also prefer armor, recognizing that it not only provides armor but also because it engenders respect. Armor is also used by those with handicaps in order to provide mobility. For those with a secret identity to protect, a good suit of armor obscures physical features as well as facial ones, making it harder to identify the character.

You also need to decide on which side of the objectification war you are on. Putting a woman in Spandex is treated as demeaning to the character; the character does not exist past her physical attributes. Putting a female in a Spandex outfit is tantamount in some circles to reducing her to just her physical appearances, and is a way to diminish any other value she may have. Even if you don't see it that way, be aware that some people do.

There is, of course, a third option which seems to be forgotten: clothing. Usually used by Asia or Arabian characters, the character wears actual clothing. This can be as simple as a pair of jeans and a hoodie all the way to something out of the Arabian Knights. This can also include characters that go around in military dress, specifically camouflage or dress uniforms. Although usually used to accentuate the character's origins, it also allows an outfit that isn't Spandex or armor.

Regardless of which mode you choose, make sure that it represents the character well, and fits within the theme of your comic. Definitely have fun, but make sure that the outfit fits.

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