A project by Michael Lee Lunsford – of Supernnormal Step webcomic fame – that sees some of our favourite women superheroes dressed in non-revealing costumes has been causing a splash on the internet today.

SupergirlAll illustrations from Michael Lee Lunsford’s tumblr here. 

Point of this: An exercise in character design, attempting to clothe the heroines nearly all the way and not making them painted-on, while still keeping the look of their original costumes in some way. Hopefully keeping them looking as iconic as the originally were. Just showing what can be done with a costume breaking outside the barrier of the norm.

NOT the point of this: some moral code I’m trying to push on you.

ZatannaJudging by the reaction on my own Twitter and Facebook, the overall response is incredibly positive and the negative responses somewhat revealing in themselves. There’s criticism that all the women are wearing trousers for example, or look frumpy, with fellow Beat writer Steve Morris noting that he was somewhat initially taken back by the fact that these women are drawn with realistic body shapes – not something superhero comic readers are perhaps used to.

Other negative comments followed the predictable paths of, “but superhero men are half naked too!”, “they look like men in drag!”, “prudes!”, and the ever popular, “TWILIGHT!!”. Criticising superhero outfits is, of course, a favourite past time of all superhero comics fans, but when it comes to the women characters such criticism can skate worryingly close to the sexist edge (if not outright flying right over it).

elekraSo it’s easy to see why Lunsford is keen to point out that he is not pushing a moral code here. Let’s remember too, that women who like these outfits are not out on a crusade to ban all bare legs and boobs from superhero comics (Vampirella’s famous costume for example was designed by the wonderful and feminist Trina Robbins). But it is nice to see that these characters remain as iconic and powerful without all having to bare skin. Just as all superhero men should not have to sport the Namor speedo look. (Although actually, another illustrator has done almost exactly that to further illustrate this very point!)

VampirellaI really love these, and it’s heartening to see the positive reactions. In my own world, superheroes would have more than one outfit because while some days we all feel like sex kittens, other days we just want to wear our pyjamas and veg out while reluctantly saving the world. And who wants to wear the same thing every day? Stick to a colour scheme to be recognisable, but work that capsule wardrobe folk. Lunsford is now working on a series called Super-Casuals, starting with Spider-Man.

Some of these characters of course have had (or currently have) equally non-revealing outfits. I think what sets these illustrations apart though is that realism in body shapes that Stephen spotted, and the fact that these also look like everyday wear for everyday women. I would totally wear that Supergirl outfit (minus the cape!).

(And wouldn’t these be great for real all-ages comics that aren’t just for kids but are suitable for them too?!)

Wonder Woman Psylocke
Power Girl Black Canary

Source: Tumblr via Geek Native


  1. Nothing wrong with these at all—except: it is the superhero world, after all, so I’d wish Supergirl’s and Wonder Woman’s trousers were tighter and sleeker looking. Somehow I don’t mind the real-cloth look on Power Girl. But for PG and Supergirl, why the mediaeval-looking tunic-look, ie, the fabric coming to mid-thigh? Again, it’s a period look and not one that says sleek, fast, superhero.

  2. I like all of these designs, but some of the coloring on the pants just strikes me as a bit “off” (Supergirl & Wonder Woman). If they were more in color uniformity with the costumes/uniforms I’m all in on all of them. Power Girl’s design is a VAST improvement over what she has typically been shown in.

  3. I love that he re-designed the looks. Great fun! Skirts over pants are making a comeback in the Spring Collections in Paris this year, so this is trendy even if I remember the 90s too well to get excited. Hurray for the return of Zatanna’s hat!

    The figures have unfashionably short legs and long torsos, especially Zatanna. Shorter than average adult women, much less superheroes and fashion models. That may be causing some of the negative reactions. Zatanna’s limb vs torso proportions are literally the same as Peter Dinklage’s.

    The short legs and long torsos are accentuated by the low belt placement. Especially the optical illusion belt formed by Zatanna’s untucked shirt.

  4. I like these outfits and wouldn’t mind seeing super-heroines dressing like this more often. I do agree with DublDownDrew about the coloring on the pants for Supergirl and Wonder Woman though.

  5. I like the idea of more sensibly-dressed superheroines in theory, but these redesigns aren’t doing it for me: not only the coloring choices but the designs themselves all feel very medieval/renaissance fair-esque to me, not at all appropriate for the sleek modernism inherent to superheroes.

    Also, in my heart of hearts I do really think stuff like this is pretty puritanical and prudish. I’m all for more realistic portrayals of the female anatomy and a greater diversity of body types, but I don’t see the harm in sexy, exciting and iconic costumes at all. Y’all wouldn’t want your favorite female heroines fight crime in burqas, now would you?

  6. Love the idea, but some imprivements can be made. Wonder Woman looks like she’s wearing slacks under her armor. Why not just go with the full armor look?

    Love Power Girl and Elektra!!

  7. Ah no! Let’s not with the burqa argument D:

    The idea isn’t that all women characters need to be covered up, just that the opposite isn’t true either. Costumes can be sexy without being revealing, women can be iconic without flashing their boobs. Characters who revel in cheesecake, like Vampirella and Catwoman, would be that much more iconic if their look wasn’t the norm after all.

    Heidi – love that image! Someone on my facebook also pointed out that most martial arts practitioners favour more roomy clothing. In order to be more deadly :D

  8. I remember when the Scarlet Witch’s bathing suit-and-cape garb was the ultimate in “revealing” costumes. Then along came Vampirella, and SW looked like a Victorian prude.

  9. “In my own world, superheroes would have more than one outfit because while some days we all feel like sex kittens, other days we just want to wear our pyjamas and veg out while reluctantly saving the world.”

    Yeah! Superpowered man and child characters should get bigger wardrobes too! :D

    …and some days it’s warm out, some days it’s cold out, some days you wear one outfit because another equally appropriate outfit of yours is in your dirty laundry bin…

  10. Wonder Woman, Zatanna and Supergirl just look like they are wearing Old Navy broken-in khaki’s rather than superhero gear. Black Canary looks more like she’s going snowboarding with Shaun White.

    I do like Elektra’s and Psylocke’s though.

  11. I really like the idea of superheroes (men, too) having different outfits. Honestly, who wears the same clothes every day? A lot of these concepts are too busy for my tastes. I’m in agreement with full coverage, but having a lot of extra loincloths and tunics and whatnot are just giving opponents something to grab (of course, the same could be said about capes). I very much agree with leggings, but Wonder Woman is clearly wearing Steve Trevor’s uniform pants, and that just sends the wrong message.

  12. The only one of these I really like is Power Girl which I think would work well in her book.But most of the rest are just their normal costume with a leotard underneath or have weird proportion problems around the waist.And I think Zatanna has had that look before with a different colored shirt and tighter pants.

  13. ..one of the main reasons that superheroes – female AND male – originated in such skimpy costumes is that, simply, it was easier to draw the human form essentially naked, and then just add the suggestion of clothing with a line or two for the shorts and boots, a scoop at the neckline (some more scooped than others) et volia: superhero. (why so many capes, then? no idea!)

    Reason the second? Target audience, ie teenaged boys.

  14. The Elektra redesign is pretty much ready to go, I think. The Zatanna one needs further refining, but I am definitely ready to see Zatanna look less like the magician’s assistant and more like the magician.

  15. Power Girl looked like she was wearing assassin robes similar to Ezio at first glance; all of them look good though.

  16. This is bull ish. Why don’t you just draw burqas on them there bud? They all look dumb and you’re dumb for drawing these. Wonder woman has khakis on. KHAKIS. This is so stupid.

    May the fat nerd defenders come at me, this is dumb and deep down you know it.

  17. I kinda like them as an alternate outfit – – I like the idea of them as ‘cold-weather’, or ‘I WAS gonna veg out and read a book tonight, BUT… ‘ outfits.


  18. I love these, but I really have an issue with the ugly khaki trousers that Wonder Woman is wearing. I mean, it would be just so nice if she could have black tights or leggings instead. Those trousers are ughhhhh-layyyyyy!!

    However everything else is nice and I really appreciate this effort!! You don’t need to be a 38-20-38 in skin-tight, clevage-revealing clothes to be a superhero!! (Not that a superhero couldn’t/shouldn’t dress that way if that is what she chose for herself!)

  19. What’s odd is that as an attempt to have these characters “fully” clothed, you resort to suggesting the originals are “naked.” The mere implication that arises is that this, while an attempt to promote a more sex-negative feminist viewpoint , is nothing more than slut shaming. This is somewhat counter productive to many with a more “sex-positive” viewpoint.

    There is this odd divide between what is appropriate and what isn’t that changes from area to area, culture to culture, and religion to religion.

    While many of you find these women wearing these clothes “acceptable” or “tasteful”, imagine how others from more stricter societies view them. If you want to go to the burqa extreme, we can actually see gradations of “acceptability” as we approach it. There are some women in the arab world that choose not to wear a hijab and dress similar to these women (then again there are some that dress in a fashion that makes las vegas look prudish). There are women who would find these clothes not “loose” enough. There are woman who think they should at least wear a hijab. There are women who think that they should wear the hijab and limit themselves to darker colors only, there are some that think the hijab and only back are appropriate, there are some that think a black half niqaab (covers the mouth, not the eyes) is only appropriate, there are women that think that a full niqaab (think ninja) in black is appropriate…there are some that would gloves should be required so no skin is exposed.

    Now imagine how many of these women look at other women not at the same level in their continuum. Save for your extremes (full nude or fully covered) there is always a level that dresses unacceptably and “slutty” and there is always a level that is too prudish or conservative.

    What’s concerning is how many people believe their view is the only correct one, regardless of where they lie on this continuum. You say “at least its not a burqa” or “what’s next, a burqa?” suggesting a divide between the perceived “slutiness” of the originals and “prudeness” of these replacements…but somehow we have both sides agreeing that a burqa is inherently wrong for being at one end of this continuum. But oddly people cannot agree on where to draw the line of appropriateness. Which really brings up the question that this entire post has been trying to get at:

    Who are any of you to decide what is appropriate?

  20. I’ll say it. They look awful, and this looks like an obvious example to allow people who have never truly appreciated superheroes to accept them in “more respectable” attire. Because hey, geek is hot, superheroes have movies now, and people want to jump in on the fun. The thing is, comic book fans would *love* to share their appreciation of these characters, (and give one half a minute at your local comic shop, and you’ll find out how terribly true this is).

    But this isn’t the way to do it. Sacrifice our beautiful characters and culture for this?

    Even the term “fully clothed” is an insult (despite the artists statement about not trying to push any moral code)-it all suggests that (as previously stated) the originals are somehow shameful, that Power Girl and Zatanna should “cover up”, These characters themselves are all strong female leads. Why shame them? Because thats all that this is doing.

    I don’t believe the artist when he says this isn’t about a moral code.. if he were NOT lying, then why are these all women, and all forcing them to cover themselves? If it’s just about putting characters in clothing, what about Namor? Where is “fully clothed” Namor, or fully clothed Kamandi? or fully clothed Ben Grimm? or full-clothed Hulk?

    Geeks are getting played by fake feminists who may not exactly realize how much body shame they are peddling. If a person doesn’t “like” the way superhero comic book costumes look, that’s a perfectly acceptable answer. It just means you were never going to appreciate comics anyway. Not being a comics fan isn’t a crime. It just means it’s not your scene.
    But don’t pretend that shaming women and hiding the human form does anything to raise feminist cred with comics fans. It’s a fakeout, and this is really about shame.

    Plus, let me tell you about Wonder Woman for a second: She’s the most powerful and beautiful woman on the planet and she doesn’t have to wear a pair of pilking trousers.

    I guess that’s it.

  21. I’m a little disappointed. The heroines look like regular people dressed up in cosplay.
    The art is good and the costume design is good as well.
    But let’s face it. Wonder Woman is roughly 6 feet tall.
    An Amazon princes. This Wonder Woman doesn’t come near that.

    I think that the artist should of taken some fitness models and applied those proportions to his art. I think it would of come out even better.

  22. MattComix says:
    (…)Zatanna(…)wearing Old Navy broken-in khaki’s

    I’m not sure you understand what Old Navy sells or what khakis are.

  23. But they are essentially naked, or have you not noticed the trend of comic book artists tracing or referencing porn and then hacking in lines to make clothes? Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Powergirl are indestructible, so maybe they don’t need to cover their legs and arms. Black Canary isn’t, Elektra isn’t. So why aren’t they wearing body armor? Batman wears body armor, Nightwing wears body armor, Red Hood wears body armor, male characters who are just regular guys or whose powers do not make them indestructible wear body armor. So why don’t women who are in the same situation? Hell, even Batgirl never did until Steph Brown put on the costume.

    The answer, whether you like it or not, is because its’ harder for neckbeards to fap to body armor.

  24. Re: Ms. Solanas’ comments– I would say that there could be an element of “shame” here, but there’s also an element of “modesty,” which is related but not quite the same thing.

    As with most things, the perception depends on whose ox is gored. Some feminists see extreme exposure of female characters– which they claim, rightly or wrongly, to be greater than that of male characters– to be disempowering. It’s assumed that female fantasy-characters must act like the majority of real women, which means that super-exposed costumes would go against a biological (or cultural, if you like) imperative of feminine modesty.

    In contrast, VS argues that to cover up is to give in to shame. This is partly true, but it ignores the role of modesty in culture. Whether the standards of realism should dominate fantasy characters is something I’ve railed against more than once.


  25. A not-naked Wonder Woman just looks weird to me, but that’s my problem so I guess I’ll get over it. Objectively, these are all good… except Supergirl.

    Supergirl has body image issues. She doesn’t necessarily have an eating disorder, but she’s obviously wasting away and has been very sick. Her body language is guarded, like a burn victim’s would. Maybe there are horrible scars under there. Bare midriff mainstream Supergirl is too much, but this is also too much.

  26. I think another opposite to “fully-clothed” would be “partially clothed”. And quite a few comic women would fit that bill. In fact even the “partially” is at times a bit of a stretch.

    A little shame is not such a bad thing. A steady diet of adult content – both overt and subtle – has deadened people’s souls. And led to a culture that looks at characters and people in terms of body parts instead of whole human beings. Anyone who dares to suggest this attitude is in excess is condemned as a prude by the “open minded” free spirits out there. I may not like every outfit – but good for you, Mr. Lunsford, for daring to try something different.

  27. They all look very much overdressed, IMO. Too many layers of clothing. It’s nice that the artist has done away with humongous boobs and playboy poses, but this seems to have gone to the other extreme. These outfits, coupled with the ‘regular’ bodies, seriously take away the ‘wow’ factor. I imagine if Powergirl decided to cover up for a change, she would look something like:
    like this:

  28. Like the overall theme, though as mentioned before, color and proportion seem off. Beige pants are not a replacement for skin tone from exposed legs – pick a color that works with the ensemble. Over all, proportions seem a little off, and I don’t mean in terms of comic book standard (particularly on Zatana, with a torso that’s about a head longer than her legs – look at where her crotch falls – which isn’t helped by pinstripe bell-bottoms. Just keep imagining what sort of noise they’ll make when she’s running). I actually have less problem with Z in fishnets, because it’s not intended to be a uniform worn by someone raring for a fight (ie: designed for superheroing), but an iconic ensemble for her role as a stage magician. It’s a retro theatrical costume. I remember when the new 52 started, I showed a pic of traditional Zatana vs New 52 Zatana to my gf (who doesn’t read comics), and asked her what she thought the powers of the 2 characters were: she immediately picked old Z as a magician, and new Z she wondered if she was some sort of crazy club girl, or a villain. As for Diana in pants…as long as they work with the scheme, I’m down with it, though I will say: I grew up with Wonder Woman, from before Lynda Carter, up to the present, and the vibe I have almost always had off of her was dignity (the exceptions being when the artists really play up the t&a – wearing shorts is one thing, wearing a french-cut up to her armpits and buttfloss is quite another).

  29. I absolutely love the new outfits. they seem a lot more useful than some of the original ones.
    And to the burka argument: there is a pretty cool heroine out there “the burka avenger” produced and set in Pakistan. She hides her identity behind the burka and fights with books and pens (she is a school teacher the rest of the time). so don´t just assume a comic character with a burka can´t be a superhero too.

  30. But you’ve left the most impractical thing of all – the long hair. Long hair gets caught in stuff like bag straps and the backs of chairs, never mind its hazards whilst doing martial arts and using weapons. This redesign is about what people say on the web, not what would work. And, whilst some may disagree, I think loose fabric flapping about is also the last thing you’d want when doing sports / fighting. It plain and simple gets in the way. By all means more actual body armour, though, that makes way more sense than bare bellies.

  31. thank you thank you! I am doing a superhero project with the kids at school and am trying REALLY hard to present good role models to the girls. I desperately want the children to aspire to some superhero character traits…but not their overtly sexual dress sense…not very practical either. these beautiful pictures are how powerful woman should be presented to the next generation. save the sexy spandex for the grown up little boys ;-)

  32. Most of the costumes are great but would a little cleavege no so bad don’t get my wrong comic books show a little too much and need to learn moderation in dressing their females in revealing clothes but this isn’t the 1800s the heroines should be able to show some skin

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