Making the Grade: The Costumes of Flash’s Rogues Gallery

Captain Boomerang
A garish get-up, to be sure, but it makes sense when you realize Captain Boomerang started out as a corporate mascot for a toy company’s new line of boomerangs. Wait, no, it doesn’t. Okay, maybe the aviator’s scarf ties in with the flying toy thing, and the hat speaks to the captain’s (unearned) military status. But shin pads? A skimpy little skirt? Glove fins? Sash? Tights? The hell? I hear “Captain Boomerang” and expect to see Paul Hogan in a bomber jacket, not a guy who looks like he rolled in some Smurfs on his way to the rumble. C-

Mirror Master
The thing you have to understand about the costumes worn by Flash’s gallery of rogues is that they basically come in two flavors: “aggressively generic” and “oh God, my retinas.” Mirror Master definitely belongs in the former. Seriously, just look at him: without peeking at the dialogue, could anyone figure out who he is or what his special gimmick is supposed to be? I mean, sure, he gets points for not stitching highly impractical reflective surfaces all over his chest, but come on, now. You want to see Mirror Master done right, check out the Justice League: Doom DVD for a semi-transparent rendition. Very cool. C

Heat Wave
Another believer in the Bulk Barn Theory of Generic Super-Villain Costuming. Heat Wave’s modus operandi is he can make things super hot with his heat gun, so at least he has the good sense to sheathe himself in a… um, “specially insulated asbestos costume,” according to this issue of Who’s WhoRiiiiiight. Jolly decent of him to give Flash one less villain to worry about in his old age, don’t you think? I might be able to admire the kind of devil-may-care attitude that would allow a man to clothe himself in a lethal substance, if not for the fact it makes him look like a combat-ready baked potato. D

The Top
Must… focus… on …. ludicrous… striped… body… stocking… and… domino… mask… Can’t… give… in… to… temptation… to… make… cheap… shot… about…  name. You know, something like, “Hey, Top, where’s Bottom? Is he running late? Should we wait for him or should we just get right down to business? Hey, are you always called ‘The Top’ or do you and Bottom switch positions on weekends?” Damn. Well, I tried. Come on, you just know someone in the Justice League made the same crack after sharing a few beers in the Watchtower. D-

Captain Cold
Finally, a costume worthy to be worn by someone who can give Flash a serious run (ha!) for his money. Instantly obvious what his shtick is? Check. Subdued and tasteful color scheme? Check. Highly practical attire given the villain’s M.O. and propensity for hanging out in and/or creating polar environments? Check. Even the glasses, similar to those used by folks in the Arctic to prevent snow blindness, impart that look of mystery and menace while also being highly practical in his line of work. Clearly, the standard by which all other super-villain costumes must be measured. A+

Annnnd then there’s the Trickster. To be fair, he doesn’t have much choice about going with the color-blind jester look — anyone using practical jokes as their gimmick and demonstrating a flair for fashion is begging for a visit from Gotham’s happiest style maven, if you get my drift. And a guy named James Jesse embarking on a career of wearing flying shoes and throwing whoopee cushions at a man who runs at the speed of light isn’t exactly aching to blend into the background. So should we judge his costume for its crimes against optic nerves or should we take into account it’s supposed to attract attention? Shag it. The Trickster could attract attention wearing nothing but a top hat and a feathered boa and still look presentable. This is just ludicrous. D

Pied Piper
Polka dots. Hypnotic music. Polka dots. Hypnotic music. Yeah, I don’t get it, either. As much as I might question the need for, say, the Riddler to sport question marks all over his ensemble, you have to admire the dedication to a theme that kind of wardrobe choice would suggest. Looking at the Pied Piper sans his trademark instruments, I’d have no clue he was a fiendish flutist. Member of an Irish clown troupe, perhaps. You want a classic musical villain costume choice? The Fiddler, tails and spats, enough said. C-

Rainbow Raider
First question: I wonder how many times in a day the Rainbow Raider says the phrase, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”…? His story: he’s a brilliant artist who was born color-blind, so his dad invented a pair of special goggles to help him see colors. When he found out his eyewear could also emit light beams, create constructs out of light and control other people’s emotions, he embarked on a life of art- and color-themed crime. So not only is he traipsing around in an outfit begging for a cease-and-desist order from GLAAD, his super-villain weapon is something his dad whipped up in their basement to help him see all the pretty colors. Lame! D

Gorilla Grodd
Ha! A super-villain who fights Flash buck naked! Take that, Comics Code Authority! Sure, he’s a gorilla and gorillas don’t, as a rule, wear clothes. But this is a talking gorilla and as far as I’m concerned, talking = self-awareness = ability to comprehend one’s place in the cosmic order = concept of humility = cover up your damn vine and coconuts already. It’s funny how gorillas and humans share 98% of their DNA but that 2% is just enough to make it perfectly okay for Grodd to scamper about au naturel next to the Charles Atlas and Sea Monkey ads. Meanwhile, poor Jack Kirby had to draw underwear lines on all his Silver Surfer figures, because God forbid the kiddies think that alien metallic Christ figure flying around on a giant surfboard is doing it naked. NOT APPLICABLE



One response to “Making the Grade: The Costumes of Flash’s Rogues Gallery

  1. In my opinion, Rainbow Raider’s costume isn’t lame.

    Also, you forgot Abra-Kadabra, but I’m not sure if he counts here.

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