Comic Clichés, Part II: Clothing and Weapons


A wide-brimmed hat and upturned trenchcoat collar creates a force field of near-total darkness that completely obscures the hands, legs and facial features of the person wearing them, regardless of how unusual that person’s appearance might be. No one else in the story will ever find it odd to encounter a person dressed in that manner, even at high noon in the middle of Central Park on a summer day.

Heroes wear their costumes underneath their civilian clothing at all times, including capes, boots and assorted utility belt paraphernalia. No explanation as to why they’re always wearing dark suits or long sleeves, even in sweltering weather, will be provided.

In the event the hero is wearing lighter clothing that precludes wearing a costume, the hero’s costume will always be within reach.

No matter where a hero goes to change into their superhero costume, there will always be sufficient room in that space for them to make a quick change, and the hero will never be caught mid-change by another person.

No one will ever find the hero’s civilian clothes and rifle through them while the hero is on duty.

Superhero costumes incorporate a variation of at least one of the primary colors (red, yellow, blue) into their design. Green is acceptable option, but green and purple together are reserved for super-villain ensembles.

Villains that make use of a particular gimmick or pursue a certain obsession will use costume colors and designs that suggest said gimmicks or obsessions. For instance, a villain who uses extreme cold as his modus operandi will use plenty of light blues and jagged, icicle-like lines in his outfit.

Every female superhero wears a costume that includes at least two of the following:

  • six-inch stiletto heels
  • a laced-up-the-front corset
  • material so tight and form-fitting that it clings to every pore of her body
  • a thong so far up her tuckus it gives her spleen a regular flossing
  • practically nothing covering her midriff
  • a ridiculously elaborate headpiece
  • lots and lots of leather.

Whenever a hero makes a radical change to his/her costume, it can be safely assumed it’s a temporary situation if the hero is popular enough to have an action figure or cartoon based on the old look.

Heroes with powers that cause them to increase in size will always wear shirts that rip away in the most aesthetically pleasing fashion, but pants and underwear that thoughtfully do not. Said pants will always be the same color.

Whenever a character’s powers involves altering his/her body in some way — stretching, turning invisible, etc. — a suitable explanation involving special fabrics or a “my-power-even-affects-my clothes” force field around their bodies will be provided.

No setting is so filthy as to cause a hero’s costume to look dirty. Even the whitest costume will still look spick-and-span after a three-hour battle through the rancid sewers of a major city.

No matter how constricting or cumbersome the costume, it will not impede the hero’s acrobatic abilities or fighting skills in the slightest.

All domino masks, regardless of design, fit snugly on a superhero’s face, with no visible string holding them in place. No mention will ever be made of the negative effects on a hero’s peripheral vision that this type of mask might cause, or the uselessness of such a mask in keeping one’s identity secret.

Masked superheroes and villains, while kicking back in their civilian identities, will ever have to explain the odd tan lines around their eyes or cheeks that develop because of their daytime adventures.

Capes never get caught in doors or impede a hero’s abilities in a fight. No fighting thug will ever seize upon the idea of grabbing the hero’s cape to either (i) yank him off his feet or (ii) throw the cape over his head.

When a hero sits on the rooftop, his/her cape will always billow out over the edge in the most aesthetically pleasing fashion. When this happens, the cape will appear to look at least twice as long as the hero’s height (five times, if the hero is drawn by Todd McFarlane).

Characters never get too cold or too hot. Those who wear the skimpiest outfits never get frostbite, just as characters in the heaviest, most protected outfits never show the ill effects of heat stroke during the summer.

Regardless of how many times a hero may change the design of his/her costume, the public will always accept that it is the exact same person underneath, sometimes even recognizing them at first glance.

Costumes that are ripped in battle will rip in such a way that neither the hero’s secret identity nor his/her sense of modesty is ever compromised.

Vigilante heroes who work nights and use white or bright primary colors in their costume color schemes never have a problem blending into the shadows.

No matter how cumbersome, a hero’s weapons and accessories are always within reach when it comes time to change into costume.

Reloading ammunition or jammed-up guns are never a problem for ordnance-heavy heroes.

Whenever a hero relies on a massive arsenal of crimefighting equipment — more often than not customized with his/her personal logo — no attempt is ever made to explain how (i) he/she can afford all this ordnance without someone’s accountant or the IRS getting suspicious or (ii) where he/she found the time and the talent to become an expert blacksmith, tailor, gunsmith, chemist, electrical engineer, etc.

All machine guns create a “budda-budda-budda” sound effect.

All heroes are clever enough to allay the suspicions of any shipping manager or warehouse distributor who might wonder why a private citizen would order so many arrows, gas grenades, body armor pieces, etc.

Whenever a villain shoots an invulnerable hero, the bullets will ricochet, but never into a crowd of onlookers.

Heroes who use guns rarely have to reload, and are never seen carrying extra ammunition.

When shot at, the hero assumes the legs akimbo, fists-on-hip stance and allow the bullets to hit squarely on the chest. When it becomes obvious to the villain that bullets have no effect, he will then throw his weapon at the hero. The hero will compound this lapse of logic by ducking out of the way (see episodes of the 1950s Superman TV show for examples).

All heroes who are not invulnerable will be able to dodge bullets, even at close range. In those cases where taking a bullet is essential to the script, the hero will always wear a bulletproof vest or armor of some type that does not diminish the definition of his muscles or her chest measurements.

If a villain manages to shoot a hero with a laser weapon, it merely stuns or weakens the hero, even if mere seconds before the very same laser was able to disintegrate a brick wall.

Recoil is an irrelevant factor in the superhero universe. Even the wispiest of superheroines can fire a weapon several times her size and not worry about flying backwards from the shot.


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