Thursday

Marvel Girl Illustrated

I have my own ideas about how some things “actually” looked in the Original Marvel Universe, despite the way they were often portrayed in the comics themselves. Just as earlier events could be shaped, and sometimes completely changed, by later stories, some visual details can be likewise subject to revision, even when this involves a certain amount of speculation. My only real criterion is that there be some decent reason for making the change.

A prime example of this can be seen in the way I view the costumes of the original team of X-Men, who wore essentially three different versions during their initial run of 66 issues. My interpretation of these costumes will be modeled below by the lovely Jean Grey, a.k.a. Marvel Girl.

As I explained on my other blog, I believe, first off, that the X-Men’s original uniforms were always yellow and black, not yellow and blue. While their costumes may have seemed blue in the early issues, the true color scheme was made clear later on, both when Kitty Pryde adopted one of the original uniforms as she first joined the team, and later in the pages of The New Mutants. See also the flashbacks to the team’s early days presented in Uncanny X-Men #138, drawn by John Byrne and Terry Austin.

Based largely on the way the uniforms appeared in Uncanny X-Men #1, and taking into account the way they looked on Kitty and the members of the New Mutants, particularly in the striking paintings done by Bill Sienkiewicz for that title, I see their original uniforms “actually” looking like this:



The main change is making her belt red from the start, with the X in a white circle. The all-yellow version in the comics struck me as lazy design work. It looks weak, and since the yellow belts never appeared again, I feel they’re best retconned out of existence. The “dark yellow” of their boots is another coloring oddity best dispensed with. In their very first issue, it seems pretty clear the boots are black with a yellow cuff. This changed gradually due primarily to lazy inking.

In Uncanny X-Men #27, the team adopted new uniforms, which they made a big deal out of, despite the fact that they were virtually indistinguishable from the previous version. See the panel below, taken from a copy of the original comic.



Note that Marvel Girl says, “I was getting tired of all that yellow in the old ones.” However, these really have just as much yellow, except that the belts are now red, as indicated by Iceman’s comment. This suggests to me that a more radical change was intended, but was not carried through on for whatever reason. Perhaps since it was not stated what color the uniforms were supposed to be, the colorist (who is uncredited) just continued to make them yellow, changing only the belt.

Since this was the mid-1960s, I believe the costumes were “actually” a bold black-and-white design, which was quite fashionable at that time. So when I look at that scene, I see it this way:



In fact, I take it a step further and refine the design a bit, using aspects of the way Arthur Adams drew the uniforms of the New Mutants. Plus, the X of the belt now appears in a yellow circle for the first time. So, in my visualization of the Original Marvel Universe, Jean’s costume looked like this during this period:



I think this is a much bolder design and a nice transition from the training uniforms to their individual costumes.

Finally, in Uncanny X-Men #39, the team received new costumes that were designed by Ross Andru. As noted by Professor Xavier, the X-Men had proven themselves in combat many times, and were now more a team of individual heroes rather than students. As such, each of them received a unique costume. Marvel Girl displays her self-confidence by choosing to do her adventuring in a stylish mini-skirt:



Although certain artists chose to depict the X-Men in their original uniforms again during some guest-appearances the team made in other titles, I maintain that Marvel Girl wore this costume until she retired from the team at the beginning of Uncanny X-Men #94.

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