Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Flash and Northstar



The flash has one of the greatest costume designs in comics.  Carmine Infantino came up with a simple, sleek uniform that looks great in motion, and it has deservedly stood the test of time.  When Wally West took over the mantle of The Flash, a few tweaks were made.  The material was shinier and the eyes where whited out, but it was still close enough to the classic design for me.  The latest revamp with the New 52 reboot was less successful in my eyes.  I don't see what adding a chin strap and a whole bunch of unnecessary seams does besides make the suit look busy.  The artists like to have the seams glow and crackle with energy when he uses his powers, but to me that usually looks messy and more like his abilities are based on electricity rather than speed.

You could tell that John Byrne was going for that sleek Silver Age type of designs with his uniforms for the members of Alpha Flight.  Their cool, simple looks were very effective and have for the most part remained unaltered over three decades later.

7 comments:

Bob Greenwade said...

That background looks like something out of a Road Runner cartoon. Is that deliberate?

Neil Robertson said...

Credit where it's due: The Barry Allen Flash costume was designed by Carmine Infantino, not Gil Kane.

I especially liked your remarks about the New-52 costume and its emphasis on lightning over the speed motif. Lightning was meant to be the metaphor for his running abilities, not the literal cause of it. But now it's as if he was bitten by a radioactive lightning bolt.

Mark said...

I was going to say the same as Neil. Kane was an awesome designer, having created Green Lantern and the Atom's costumes, but Infantino had this one.

Ross said...

Ah, Thanks for the correction, blog amended! Darn I knew that too, just wrote the entry too quickly!

Bob, yes that was by design, I wanted to see who would catch that. It's a road that has definitely seen some racing!

Bob Greenwade said...

Well, Ross, now you've done it... now I want to see Darkwing Duck and Hong Kong Phooey go up against Wile E. Coyote!

pblfsda said...

One really distinctive feature Byrne worked into the Alpha Flight costumes was a kind of medieval collar that extends to the shoulders (think Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon). It's not only on Northstar and Aurora, but Snowbird and Shaman. Even Sasquatch is frequently colored so that his shoulder and head fur are darker than his chest fur, creating a similar effect.
At the time Byrne was putting a lot of energy into doing nostalgic versions of classic Marvel characters, but he didn't get that collar motif from Kirby or Ditko. It more likely came from science fiction artists like Al Williamson or Don Heck, etc. Those short stories were still used as back-ups until 1964 or so. If he was immersed in old comics for reference/inspiration he would have seen those stories, too.

Anonymous said...

OMG! That background! I wish the road runner made a cameo! I love it!

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