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Comic Book Legends Revealed #462

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COMIC LEGEND: Dave Cockrum had a rather racy protest to Ms. Marvel’s original costume.

STATUS: True

When she first debuted, Ms. Marvel had a bit of an odd costume, as it was a female version of the classic Captain Marvel outfit….

captainmarvel

only with an exposed midriff for some reason…

msmarvel1

Since we’re celebrating March MODOK Madness today, I figured I might as well show a MODOK cover…

msmarvel2

Chris Claremont had taken over Ms. Marvel soon after the book had launched and he was trying his best to make it more of an appealing book from a feminist perspective. He wanted to bring over his X-Men collaborator, Dave Cockrum, on to the title, but it was a slow going.

Cockrum, with issue #9, made the first change to the costume and at least got rid of the exposed midriff…

msmarvel3

But Cockrum was unable to take over the art duties on the title until #20. And when he did, he gave her a new costume…

msmarvel4

msmarvel5

The always informative Sean Howe, author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, has a drawing Cockrum did for Jim Shooter’s birthday (presumably in 1977) on his cool Marvel Tumblr where Cockrum expressed his displeasure with Ms. Marvel’s costume in a…unique fashion.

msmarvelprotest

In an interview in 1999′s Comic Book Artist #6 by Jon B. Cooke, Cockrum explained how hard it was for him to get a new costume for Ms. Marvel and his experiences with Stan Lee on the project…

We [Cockrum and Stan Lee] went round and round about Ms. Marvel’s costume, too. Remember she started with a female version of Captain Marvel’s costume only with an open belly, and we all bitched about that because none of us could figure a rationale for it. So they closed the belly opening, but we said, ‘No, she needs another costume.’ We hassled Stan about it for so long that he said, ‘All right! If you think you’re so smart, design a new one.’ And I must have gone through 50 designs! Some of ‘em I would xerox and try out in different colors, and Stan would go, ‘No, no, no, no! Get that out of here.” Finally I did the one with the lightning bolt and sash, and I took it to Stan who said, ‘That’s what you should have done from the start! That’s what I like: Shiny leather and tits & ass!”

That’s certainly something!

On the next page, was a Donald Duck cartoon nominated for an Academy Award…for Best Documentary?!?

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60 Comments

No one could design a costume like Cockrum. He was a treasure.

Unless I missed it, you could have a WARNING: Might not be appropriate for work before the Ms. Marvel sesction.

Unless I missed it,

You did.

How logical, Robot! Bruce Lee knew manners. Moreover, memories grow either hazy or scratchy as time passes by.

Nicole, wouldn’t it make sense that the ENTIRE site is not work appropriate? Although, I do agree that a warning should have been in place, as my children were near at the time of me looking at this…

The warning should be on the actual Ms. Marvel page too. I was looking for a racy picture in the Bruce Lee story.

I think I’ve seen that “The New Spirit” cartoon. Did it feature images of the Nazis taking over America?

Man,, I remember when I first saw the original Ms. Marvel costume. How the heck did they even get away with something like that in the ’70s. Not even Wonder Woman exposed her belly in those days (iirc).

Yeah, the original Ms Marvel oufit was really tacky. Cockrum’s version, while still quite sexy (cf Stan Lee’s comment) was much superior in terms of design. Of course, one can’t blame Cockrum for the fact that some subsequent artists decided to amp the sleaze factor and draw the bottom of Ms Marvel’s outfit as a thong…

It is kind of funny that we’re talking all about changing her costume with some nods toward feminism mentioned, because that’s a fairly sexist outfit still, especially as Cockrum draws its first appearance here. Of course, these are comic books.

@trajan23 – Well, starting in the ’90s (maybe a bit in the ’80s) nearly every superheroine with bikini-style bottoms for a costume ended up in a thong. They especially liked having them turned to the side so they look bottomless, instead.

Oh man, I’ve totally seen that Donald Duck cartoon, when a local cinema put together a night of old cartoons that have fallen out of fashion for one reason or another.

The thing I remember most about it was the repeated refrain to “pay your taxes to beat the Axis.”

In regards to later artists and female costumes; it seems like so many had very little formal art training, outside of copying comic books. Back in the 90s, it was put out, and I believe some artists admitted to it, that they used magazine photo layouts for a lot of the women, especially swimsuit and similar magazines. if you look at a lot of the poses in the comics, they mirror those of a typical swimsuit layout. Cockrum, at least, came from a more rounded background, which you see more in the guys who broke in before the 80s (but not everyone). Heck, if you look at some of their male figures, it looks like they are using bodybuilder magazines for reference. A good portion of them couldn’t draw a male or a female character in everyday clothing.

Ethan Shuser:”@trajan23 – Well, starting in the ’90s (maybe a bit in the ’80s) nearly every superheroine with bikini-style bottoms for a costume ended up in a thong. They especially liked having them turned to the side so they look bottomless, instead.”

Don’t remind me. That was definitely a low-point in comic book depictions of women. Deodato’s Wonder Woman was a particularly egregious example. Again, though, it makes you have more respect for Cockrum’s rendition of Ms Marvel, which managed to be sexy and relatively tasteful.

Jeff Nettleton:”Back in the 90s, it was put out, and I believe some artists admitted to it, that they used magazine photo layouts for a lot of the women, especially swimsuit and similar magazines. if you look at a lot of the poses in the comics, they mirror those of a typical swimsuit layout. Cockrum, at least, came from a more rounded background, which you see more in the guys who broke in before the 80s (but not everyone).”

Yeah, lack of knowledge of basic human anatomy was a real problem with a lot of the artists who emerged in the ’90s. For example ( keeping the perspective on women), one might note that a lot of ’90s artists apparently had no idea what real breasts looked like. Hence, one got the impression that most super-heroines in the ’90s had silicone implants.

great stuff as usual, mister cronin!

@Ethan: It was no more “sexist” than a number of women’s one-piece bathing suits in the 1970s.

Actually Ms. Marvel’s first costume isn’t much more revealing than Saturn Girl’s bathing-suit look. So I doubt it was a huge issue she was showing that much skin.

Kato would have obliterated both Batman and Robin, but let’s face it, that was the only real way they could end that episode. And I say bring back the Cockrum designed Carol Danvers costume.

“(of course, as some commentators might will note, that might have been due to the source material for each show – Batman comics of the 1960s tended to be a good deal more campy than a typical Green Hornet radio drama).”

That was the first thing I thought of when I saw a mention of the Batman TV show in the intro. I was a little surprised ___ had not struck yet.

@Brian- fair enough, though a little bit of bold font would help in the future

I’m not sure I can properly understand all this stuff about the Batman TV show without knowing what some guy said about it on a message board once.

Duckumentary.

@ Ethan Shuster:

I am not sure that I buy the Cockrum take on Ms. Marvel as inherently sexist.

There are three basic types of female superhero outfits: the bathing suit, the cheerleader and the unitard (or catsuit). There are better and worse versions and interpretations of each type. Some folks will argue that the unitard is the only type that isn’t sexist, but compare the more objectified images of Black Widow or Catwoman to with Kurt Schaffenberger’s Supergirl or Phil Jimenez’s Wonder Woman.

The Cockrum version of Ms. Marvel a basic bathing suit design with the standard design elements Cockum added to female superhero costuming: a sash, thigh-high boots and opera gloves. His great Phoenix design was basically the same elements in gold with a green unitard base. I am not sure that anyone would call that costume sexist.

I don’t care if I’m politically incorrect or whatever – I prefer the original Ms Marvel costume with the mid riff. Thinking the black leather, dominatrix outfit is more acceptable is laughable. My understanding is that the mid riff was reflective of the “tied-up shirt” style many fit, healthy, good looking young women were wearing back then (most commonly demonstrated by Daisy in Dukes of Hazard.) I certainly remember a lot of them. Seems curious the main complaint came from a middle-aged male. Particularly the one who also designed Storm’s costume.

re: the ‘bruce lee/burt ward’ bat-fight: cinefantastique quoted robin’s stunt double and co-stunt coordinator with hubie kearns, batman’s stunt double) victor paul who in ’94 had said that (i’m not going to run the exact quotes here), that 1.) batman and robin didn’t want to lose, bruce lee said: ‘nobody beats me’ and that a producer (unnamed) finally decide that it was a ‘Mexican standoff….nobody wins.” he(paul) also stated that if lee were to nail him during the fight;”i’ll come back with a chair on you’, stating that bruce was used to making contact “and that wasn’t right’. so take that for what you will….since it would’ve been improbable that burt would’ve done this fight for the show in the first place.

Flubba!

now that’s a sound effect

(of course, as some commentators might will note, that might have been due to the source material for each show – Batman comics of the 1960s tended to be a good deal more campy than a typical Green Hornet radio drama).

Do a Goodsearch for Count Karnstein and Adam West.

http://monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com/search/topic/topic/14587

Count Karnstein wrote :“To be totally clear, the last truly great, truly faithful superhero movie was Batman (1966)”.

More from Count Karnstein: It [the 1966 film and TV series] unashamedly, unapologetically put the real Batman on the big screen and said “This is Batman as he is in the comics. If you don’t like it, tough [expletive].”

Writing in 2008, Karnstein pointed out that for decades, the Dynamic Duo”s tales “had giant pennies and stuffed dinosaurs, was wearing caveman, zebra, and rainbow costumes, teamed up with Bat-Mite, split in two, melded with Superman, fought a living #2 pencil, drowned in giant gravy boats and menaced by giant sized water pistols, tennis rackets, and all sorts of insane absurdities long before the Batman movie or tv show were released….Dozier was bringing the characters to the screen in the manner in which they had been portrayed in the comics. Was there ever a silly, absurd, ridiculous Green Hornet comic book? If so, it’s escaped my attention for the better part of 40 years. Did we ever see a Caveman Green Hornet or a Green Hornet in a rainbox/zebra/dayglo red suit? Did we ever see Green Hornet being drowned in a giant gravy boat or being chased by aliens and dinosaurs? Was there ever an Ace the Green Hornet Dog? How about a Hornet-Mite?

No? I didn’t think so. There’s your answer. It’s literally that simple. Dozier was taking characters and putting them on the screen. Green Hornet was always played straight and serious in the comics/strips/radio, so he was done that way for tv. Batman was as absurd, silly, goofy, and ridiculous as anything else that has ever appeared in comics, and so that’s how he appeared on-screen”.

Up until about 1989, Robin(s) wore pixie boots with bare legs and golden cape. Also, the Dynamic Duo often made appearances at public functions.

http://monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com/topic/50626/Batman-1966-on-DVDBluray-Finally?page=5#.UuMqxNHnZjo
I went through some scans from the late 50?s early 60?s last night…but the choices of what to post to illustrate my point were overwhelming.

Were they straight adaptations? No (although apparently DC just put out a trade of full of stories that were adapted for episodes)- but the tone of what I saw was entirely consistent with the tone of the show. That is, when it wasn’t 100x sillier. Batman is constantly being seen in public, in daylight, accepted as if he were just another high profile public figure. This is where a HUGE part of that ‘camp’ aspect of the show comes from.

OK here we go…material taken from ten issues at random in the years during or preceding the TV show

Here’s a very typical scenario- Batman meets an alien from outer space…for an added bonus we have campy, the Schumacher beloved Bat-skates as well.

and one more for good measure- Batman & Robin pop in on a pool party in mid-day during the course of an investigation. Is the Bat-tusi sequence really any sillier than this would have looked if they’d done it in the show?

Well, I refer you to Count Karnstein’s comments and those of Max Allan Collins.

“There was a reason why that TV show was played for laughs and that is when you put actual human beings in those costumes and act out those stories, it looks stupid”, per Max Allan Collins.

http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?428475-Is-Warner-Bros-Embarrassed-by-Superhero-Tropes/page5 has Count Karnstein quotes and citations.

The Cockrum designed Ms. Marvel costume may be my favorite female costume ever. Along with the 1970s Black Widow one. Just great.

Look, Cockrum’s costume might have been a step-up from what came before it, but the only genuinely non-sexist comic book uniform I have ever seen on a female character was Frank Quitely’s Jean Grey in Grant Morisson’s New X-Men. No skirts, no bikinis, no high heels; just practical leather and kevlar, with a slightly sexy twist.

That Dave Cockrum sketch and anecdote were brilliantly funny. He was so brilliantly creative and had such a wacky, irreverent sense of humor. I still miss him.

I imagine the main issue with redesigning Carol from the red/blue into the black wasn’t so much a coverage issue as much as, like mentioned, a feminism issue: even with the stomach covered, that was still just a distaff version of Mar-Vell’s costume rather than a unique costume of Carol’s own. The new outfit, like many of Cockrum’s designs, was something wholly unique across comics and pretty groundbreaking in design.

(BTW, the single best part of this wek’s column? Imagining Stan Lee in my head saying “That’s what I like: Shiny leather and tits & ass!”…)

re: the ‘bruce lee/burt ward’ bat-fight: cinefantastique quoted robin’s stunt double and co-stunt coordinator with hubie kearns, batman’s stunt double) victor paul who in ’94 had said that (i’m not going to run the exact quotes here), that 1.) batman and robin didn’t want to lose, bruce lee said: ‘nobody beats me’ and that a producer (unnamed) finally decide that it was a ‘Mexican standoff….nobody wins.” he(paul) also stated that if lee were to nail him during the fight;”i’ll come back with a chair on you’, stating that bruce was used to making contact “and that wasn’t right’. so take that for what you will….since it would’ve been improbable that burt would’ve done this fight for the show in the first place.

Now that generally makes sense to me. I can see some requests from the actors BEFORE the script was written, just not that they had a script and changed it after the fact after a Lee protest.

I imagine the main issue with redesigning Carol from the red/blue into the black wasn’t so much a coverage issue as much as, like mentioned, a feminism issue: even with the stomach covered, that was still just a distaff version of Mar-Vell’s costume rather than a unique costume of Carol’s own. The new outfit, like many of Cockrum’s designs, was something wholly unique across comics and pretty groundbreaking in design.

I dunno, the Cockrum quote seems to indicate that the midriff thing was a major problem to him, doesn’t it? But sure, her just wearing a feminine version of the Captain Marvel costume WAS likely an issue.

(BTW, the single best part of this wek’s column? Imagining Stan Lee in my head saying “That’s what I like: Shiny leather and tits & ass!”…)

Right? Too funny.

Nu-D;”Look, Cockrum’s costume might have been a step-up from what came before it, but the only genuinely non-sexist comic book uniform I have ever seen on a female character was Frank Quitely’s Jean Grey in Grant Morisson’s New X-Men. No skirts, no bikinis, no high heels; just practical leather and kevlar, with a slightly sexy twist.”

i dunno; what about the classic Jack Kirby FF uniforms? Sue’s uniform was identical to Reed and Johnny’s. That seems pretty “non-sexist” to me.

I always read the lightning bolt as a letter “S”. When i first saw it I thought, “Oh I get it, she’s a Marvel version of Supergirl.” Just me?

I generally hate female costume designs. Yes, they are sexy, but they are even more impractical than a masked man beating up thugs while wearing a cape. Most of the designs just looks gross and exploitive.

To me, the most ridiculously sexist and exploitative costume for a mainstream comic heroine was the Supergirl costume of several years ago. I think that Jim Lee “designed” it. Basically, her entire belly was exposed and she was wearing a tiny, short skirt to add to the creepiness. DC took a 17 year old and long-established character and dressed her like a stripper. At least the current Supergirl costume is a lot closer to the classic design.

Timothy Markin

March 15, 2014 at 5:57 am

Regarding the actual adaptation aspect of the Batman TV show, there is one discrepancy in the Count Karnstein review: in 1964, Julius Schwartz took over editorship from Jack. Schiff so as to lose the aliens and Batmite and zebra Batman and all that 50s silliness and revert Batman back to his roots. This was to save Batman from cancellation. They did bring realism back to the character to a degree but after reading the 1964 and 1965 Batman and Detective issues, I saw there was still quite a bit of campy writing. We can agree that those comics were somewhat corny but the comics that William Dozier used as a template for the show didn’t include the giant typewriters and other Bill Finger tropes. (However, the giant penny from “The Penny Plunderers” in Worlds Finest #30 did hang around the Bat cave for many years, even after Denny O’Neil and Frank Robbins brought The Batman back to his pulp roots after the show’s cancellation.)

Female superhero costumes are very difficult to create. Cockrum’s design, good as it is, would still never fly in the big screen or in real life. It looks like something a Playboy Bunny might wear.

And yes, it is still not so bad when compared to the bare-midriff and skirt Supergirl costume that keeps making me wonder why Supergirl would dress like a street hooker. Or Wonder Woman’s costume, that is as exploitative as it gets (it alone is plenty reason enough for a movie Wonder Woman to fail to materialize).

I’d say a number of Kirby’s female costumes, like Sue Storm’s or Jean Grey’s (and thus Kitty Pride’s original) were non-sexist, but it’s almost beside the point, since those were not solo heroes but team members.

Anyone who thinks super heroine costumes are inherently sexist need to take a look outside and see what girls and young women are currently wearing on the street, running paths, and gymnasiums. It’s all mid-riffs, boob-tubes, mini-skirts, singlets etc. Then there’s all the spandex and leggings. Apart from office workers, who wear the old power suit, most young women hardly wear anything these days. Exploitative? Only a middle aged man might think so – maybe we should be asking the young women what they think instead of being a bunch of old farts.

This weeks edition certainly ranks among the best Legends Revealed. First, a convincing and compelling argument. Love the reasoning.

Second, a complicated story AND tits. Reminds me of my wife, who I love for both characteristics.

And third, well, such a delight to read a story and see a clip that I never knew existed. Both tickle my brain to no end.

Thanks Mr. Cronin!

“No one could design a costume like Cockrum. He was a treasure”

While I love Dave’s art, sometimes he was way off the mark when it came to costumes, especially during his run on Legion of Super Heroes.

Prime example – Cosmic Boy in a corset (as seen in this link: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5bcfpMCxb6I/ST4V1CtkY9I/AAAAAAAADfQ/TXosHz7IUf0/s400/CosmicBoy4.jpg)

Were the worst of those Legion costumes designed by Cockrum or Grell? I certainly remember the Cosmic Boy design, where they had to explain he was using his magnetic powers to hold it up.

As a one-time member of Interlac, I should remember this stuff. Oh well.

Dissident Fish

March 15, 2014 at 9:01 pm

@FuryofFirestorm — Cosmic Boy’s corset and that generation of Legion costumes were Mike Grell designs, not Dave Cockrum. Cockrum can claim the new X-men — and I’d put Nightcrawler and Phoenix up as among the best uniforms ever.

Comic-Reader Lad

March 16, 2014 at 5:37 am

As far as the Ms. Marvel costume is concerned, Marvel explained that they covered up the midriff because the color kept misregistering and the red was bleeding into the skin part. Not on the covers which were printed at a higher quality, but on the insides. I believe this was stated in the letter column around the time of the change, so it might not have had anything to do with Cockrum thinking the exposed midriff was sexist.

If you remember, he also redesigned a lot of the Legion costumes to make them more racy. Not the Cosmic Booy costume above, which was designed by Mike Grell (Grell’s costumes were equally racy for men and women. His Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, and Tyroc costumes, for example, showed more skin than usual for male characters. Not to mention his own creatiion, Warlord.).

If you look at Cockrum’s costumes for both Princess Projectra and Shadow Lass, both were redesigned to show off more skin and cleavage, so if he did object to Ms. Marvel, it does seem pretty disingenuous on his part.

Brian from Canada

March 16, 2014 at 2:33 pm

@Timothy:

While DC may have been pushing away from the campiness of the previous years, there’s still a close enough feel and sense of campiness in what remains that it truly felt like a contemporary adaptation of the comics. And, given the likelihood kids would have those comics from the year before, either from original purchase or garage sale, or from just being passed around, it would have felt the same.

Which is a huge difference from the Tim Burton Batman, which led DC to wanting to kill Bruce Wayne for the way it broke the newly established post-Crisis rules, or the Nolan Batman, which could not exist in a world where there were other superheroes.

And though Batman may have gone back to his “roots” (the original Finger ones have more campiness than often admitted), those ’66 episodes still resonate with fans today. The fact we have a comic of it is amazing — and the anticipation for the upcoming DVDs demonstrate that there are people who still love it. :-D

CRL, Princess Projectra’s backless original costume showed a lot of skin for the time (which the editors actually joked about in a letter column once).

@Pickles. It’s an interesting point. The way men and women dress is different. Women will wear a number of things that are similar to what superheroes wear. You won’t find very meny men dressing up in tights and briefs on the outside for much of anything. Maybe Olympic runners and swimmers come the closest, but even the difference between what men and women wear for gymnastics stands out. For the non-powered it would make more sense to dress more like the men and be more army gear protected, but if you’re already bullet proof, what’s the difference between tights or bare legs?

And it has changed over the years. I’ve gone to, lived, and worked on a college campus, and it used to be great when Spring would break and all the heavy jackets and sweaters went back into the closet. Nowadays even in the coldest weather women wear the tights that leave less to the imagination than the tightest jeans ever did. Nothing wrong with it, but it could be the foundation for any costume, and fashion and comfort are overriding proper fit for environment. (Young guys in northern cities have no idea how much better than have it than not so long ago).

This installment is not visible on the COMIC BOOK LEGENDS REVEALED ARCHIVES page. I’ve been checking it periodically since Friday. #461 is still the top story there.

The newest one is never in the archives. Only the old ones.

ParanoidObsessive

March 18, 2014 at 11:21 pm

It’s not the really archive page that’s the problem (the one with “history” in the URL, that your other site links to) – it’s the main category page (the one you go to when you click on the Comic Book Legends Revealed category button at the top of the article – they’re two different things).

I’ve been having the same problem for the last few weeks (I only just figured it out today).

Basically, the main category page used to update with the new article each week shortly after you posted it (which is why I had that page bookmarked). But far as I can tell, the problem is that the last few articles were posted under the “General” category instead of “Comic Book Legends Revealed” category.

Don’t know if this is a mistake or a new policy change, but it’s definitely different from how things have worked up to now.

Well, the complaint was specifically about the archive page, right?

But yes, it is true that the latest CBLR was not given a category by mistake. It has one now!

Of course it needs to be mentioned that the original Ms. Marvel Suit was mocked multiple times during the Dark Reign Era as Moonstone was wearing it as Norman’s Official Ms. Marvel.

I always thought that the sexist aspects of the costume came from the fact that being a “dolled up” derivative of CM’s suit it sent the message that Carol was both not her own hero but a second-rate knockoff of “a real MANly hero” but that between the mid-riff and the mini- skirt the eyes are constantly being drawn towards the *ahem* greater lap area.

Not saying the iconic unitard outfit is not sexist but I can see Claremont’s beef with it.

I appreciate your articles. However, since Donald Duck started as a theatrical animated cartoon property, does this legend merit inclusion? I remember when you did a special on the Green Hornet which did not actually broach any of the Green Hornet comic books. Zartan also came up once, and you admitted the ambiguity.

When did sex-y conflate with sex-ist..?

“I generally hate female costume designs. Yes, they are sexy, but they are even more impractical than a masked man beating up thugs while wearing a cape.”

Uh, yeah, exactly. ALL of these costumes are unrealistic. It’s fantasy. Why the bare midriff? For the same reason Iron Man’s armour never had any obvious joints, but rather seemed somehow flexible; because it looks cooler when drawn for a sci-fantasy adventure strip.
Someone mentioned ’70s Cosmic Boy. Why isn’t his costume sexist? And what in fact IS it then? And Hawkman?

And don’t get me started on “exploitative” or “objectifying”.
… Who is being exploited in this scenario? The fictional characters? They literally ARE objects, in the sense that they exist at all.

Oh, that Donald Duck cartoon is scary. It’s good (and interesting) to learn that he has officially adopted Della’s kids but it kinda makes me NOT want to pay taxes. They promise everlasting peace but we now know that there were more wars to follow.

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