Spider-Woman has fought crime in some variation of painted-on, breast-accentuating red spandex for 36 years now. But she’s finally throwing the old duds out for something slightly more modest.
Like Power Girl on the D.C. Comics side, Spider-Woman’s form-flattering outfit led to her being a go-to character for artists that wanted to do sexed up portrayals, and that has at times made it difficult to take the character seriously even as writers such as Brian Michael Bendis tried to tell darker and more serious stories with her.
A recent cover by famous European erotic artist Milo Manara caused some controversy, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Looking through Marvel’s back catalog, any given Spider-Woman image has about a 50 percent chance of being juvenile wank material, similar to these Hawkeye fantasy sequences but without any irony.
The new costume that will spin out of the current Spider-Verse event and premiere in March’s Spider-Woman 5 isn’t prudish. It’s still form-fitting, and in fact a lot of the added modesty seems to be more the result of the artist’s style than the design. You could just as easily do an exploitative butt-shot with her wearing the costume’s tight leather pants and I’m sure some artists will.
But the jacket and less garish colors tend to fit Spider-Woman’s role better than the old outfit. Spider-Woman spends a lot of her time serving as a private detective and a spy and the costume is meant to kick off a storyline that will bring back a “street-level” approach to the character. The new costume also makes a lot more sense for Spider-Woman if she ever moves to live-action.
Marvel claims the design is not a result of backlash about the Manara cover.
“We started planning this last May or so,” said Spider-Woman editor Nick Lowe in a press release. “[Series writer] Dennis [Hopeless] and I were hatching what the book would be and one of the first things I wanted to do was change her costume [both] because I don’t love that costume and she hasn’t really had an alternative to it! At least not for any long stretch of time.”
The new costume is also being featured in Gameloft’s Spider-Man Unlimited mobile game. But, PSA from someone who has tried it, don’t play that just to have a distant shot at seeing it. It’s a decent game hiding under some of the worst freemium gaming features every foisted upon the unwise consumer. An energy system that limits how long you play, paid power-ups, random draws for new characters, it’s got it all like some kind of freemium Katamari of suck.