Monday, July 10, 2017

The Clothes Make The Crimefighter

Many of us know that, because he wears his costume underneath his regular clothing, Peter Parker is ready to go into action as the amazing Spider-Man wherever he happens to be when the need arises to foil a crime or confront his foe(s). To ditch his "civvies," all he needs to do is to web them up and stash the webbed bundle out of sight, typically somewhere on a rooftop or in a crevice; when the danger has passed, he retrieves his clothes and resumes his problem-filled life as Peter. Of course,  one of those problems will be the stench he's going to be giving off because he's now wearing a sweat-soaked costume underneath his clothes--so unless he hits the shower, people are likely going to give Peter a wide berth, whether it's his co-workers, his friends, or whoever he's dating at the time. (Everyone, that is, except Aunt May, who'll probably just roll her eyes and conclude that Peter still isn't able to take care of himself.)

And then there's Daredevil, who needs to stash his clothes at a moment's notice but doesn't have a method of concealing them in some nook until he can swing back for them. Does he just ditch his work suit and eat the cost each time he has to change to DD? What about his I.D.? His wallet? His watch? How can he safely tuck away his civvies while he swings off to fight crime?

Ponder that, as we slip into another

Marvel Trivia Question

What accessory did Daredevil once use to keep his street clothes safe?

When he was first starting out, Daredevil seemed to give little thought to simply stowing his clothes and shoes in plain sight on some rooftop, though let's hope he at least had the good sense to scout out a few roofs in various parts of the city to make sure they didn't get any civilian traffic.

The problem here is that he didn't really have the luxury of spontaneity in responding to an emergency, having to take the time to locate a suitable rooftop--nor did he have much choice in leaving his clothes and personal items exposed to the elements (or, for that matter, pigeons). No lawyer is going to want to keep a court appointment or return to his office in a soiled suit.

His first solution was, shall we say, ill-considered:

Out of curiosity, I did some supplemental reading on wrinkle-free suits, which were either packed a certain way or woven from specific fabrics like wool or polyester or cashmere, but later evolved thanks to techniques which involve twisting the suits' yarn extremely tight.  If this were the 1960s, we probably wouldn't have felt comfortable crunching a suit into a ball shape, but let's assume DD's sense of touch lets him fold and pack like a pro. That still leaves the problem of where to stash his improvised little travel pack, though he could always stuff it inside his leotard and just claim he was putting on a few pounds. (Please, I'm joking.)

Finally, he gets serious about this problem and comes up with an idea that seems to take care of the situation--letting him go into action almost immediately while allowing him to always have his civilian attire at hand. Unfortunately, it takes "ill-considered" to an entirely new level.

GREAT idea, DD! This way, whenever you're knocked unconscious, your enemies just has to rifle through your pack and discover who you are, where you live, where you work, and, it goes without saying, what brand of suits you prefer to wear--and by the way, thanks for the watch, the cash, and the credit cards, pal! You'll have the dubious distinction of being the first super-hero to have to live down the embarrassment of being mugged.

It only takes two issues for the assembled minds at Marvel to huddle together and see this accessory as an impediment at best and a liability at worst. Soon enough, DD sees the danger of his personal effects falling into the wrong hands when, in his first encounter with the villain known as Killgrave, a crowd is turned against him and he nearly pays for his oversight.  (Though you'll notice it's played down as an issue to hamper his performance.)

A few panels later, DD seems all too glad to toss his suit aside (maybe even on the nearest flagpole) in the pursuit of his target. He even looks a little lighter on his feet, doesn't he?

Matt Murdock may be a little tardy to court from now on, but think of all the men's wear salesmen in New York he'll make happy as a regular customer, eh?


dbutler16 said...

Maybe DD should have just invented a reversible superhero costume. Navy blue suit on the outside and Daredevil costume when you flip it around.

Colin Jones said...

How are all those super-heroes (and villains) so darn good at creating such elaborate costumes ? I can barely manage to sew on a button !

George Chambers said...

There was quite a bit of experimentation going on in DD's early days, wasn't there? As well as the hood, there was the radio antennae built into DD's horns and of course all the gadgetry that was briefly part of DD's billy club: the tape recorder, the anti-Purple Man-plastic sheet, the mortar(!), the boom mike, and the adorable little telescopic shield that protected about half of DD's face. Stan blamed Wally Wood for much of this, as I recall, and after Wood's departure the gadgetry was left as Tony Stark's domain.

Comicsfan said...

Colin, perhaps a reality check on that subject is to attend a comics convention and note how home-made costumes really turn out. (Though some reflect quite a bit of work put into them!)

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