He put the “Bumble” in “Bumble Bee”

The Forties and Fifties weren't all bad in terms of super-hero costume design; sometimes they were downright terrible, as proven by The Red Bee:


Let's ignore the guy's pathetic "powers" -- he keeps a bee in a box on his belt buckle and no, I'm not kidding -- and focus just on the costume which is, frankly, horrible enough to stop criminals dead in their tracks all by itself. Which is lucky because, come on, otherwise he'd have to rely on the bee and clearly that's not gonna work.

The first problem is that The Red Bee has broken Cardinal Rule Number One of the Male Super Hero Costume -- he's wearing pink. Now I'm as fashion-forward a progressive fellow as you're likely to meet, but not in a super-hero costume. Honestly, can you name even one super-hero who's achieved prominence wearing pink? Can you imagine Batman jogging out in a set of pink bat-ears, or The Pink Lantern? And no, the Pink Panther doesn't count, because for one thing he used to pitch insulation and for another thing I'm not even sure he's a guy. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Worse than the mere fact of wearing pink, of course, is that he's wearing pink that clashes with the red in his outfit. While I'm sympathetic to Robin Williams' point in "Good Morning Viet Nam" that "It's a war, uniforms should clash!" I don't think it applies to super-heroes.

But let's say for a moment that you're the kind of guy who can carry off a pink outfit successfully, and let's further pretend that the pink you choose doesn't clash with your other colors, and that you name yourself The Red Bee instead of the Pink Bee and no one complains. Even with all that, you don't put pink on puffy see-through sleeves! That's just wrong. I tell you, if I were that bee stuck in his belt buckle (does he have air holes or what?!) the first thing I'd do when the cry of "Release the Bee!" went out would be to sting this poorly dressed schmuck right in the eyeball for crimes against fashion.

Shockingly the outfit gets worse and worse the lower you go, with the awful red-and-yellow striped leggings and the blue boots. What kind of crack is he smoking that his world is populated a) by red bees and b) by red bees with stripes of yellow? Did they run out of black ink when they were building bees on his planet? And why blue for the boots? That just makes no sense. Maybe there was a law in the Forties that decreed that any super-hero had to have red, yellow, blue, and black in their costumes or they'd get a stiff fine or something. It's the only explanation that makes sense.

Finally, and nothing against the Golden Age here, but who decided that those masks could hide anyone's identity? Seriously. "Is that Bob?! I can't tell because of that paper-thin, inch-wide strip of cloth across his eyebrows, because like any right-thinking American I depend on eyebrow recognition to know who's who!"

Luckily The Red Bee figured all that out and made a costume so sphincter-clinchingly bad that surely no one is ever going to even see his face, much less recognize him.

13 Responses to He put the “Bumble” in “Bumble Bee”

  1. William A. Peterson says:

    Hey! It wasn’t just ONE Bee…
    It was a whole Swarm of Trained Bees!
    Okay, it was still pretty lame…

  2. Dean says:

    All this talk about the bee (or bees) in his belt buckle made me look more closely at the belt he’s wearing – and it doesn’t appear to even HAVE a buckle, let alone one big enough to keep a swarm of bees in…

  3. J says:

    IMO the outfit would not be that bad if the pink sleeves were removed and the color of the boots were changed to black. The red and yellow stripes are a bit of an eye sore. He could still use those two colors, just change the pattern.

  4. Rendu says:

    RE: Male super-heroes with pink costumes- The Legion of Super-Heroes was co-founded by Cosmic Boy (doubly-handicapped by a pink costume and a “50s sci-fi” name), and he worked out just fine. Even worse, the Golden Age hero Firebrand had a sheer pink shirt with poofy sleeves. (I am NOT making this up! see http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Rod_Reilly_(New_Earth) )

  5. Al says:

    It says in his status box that he was single. I’m guessing he stayed like that for a long, LONG time.

  6. Jeff Hebert says:

    @Rendu: I never thought of Cosmic Boy’s costume as pink for some reason. I had it more in the peachy family, or maybe a salmon or something. Firebrand was pretty cool, but he didn’t have red and yellow horizontally striped stripes to contend with. Plus, note that his outfit looked better on the female Firebrand who took his place in All-Star Squadron. I’m just sayin’, they’re wearin’ girl clothes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  7. Jeff Hebert says:

    @Dean: It’s not the size of a man’s buckle, it’s the frenzy of his swarm. Or something.

  8. Niall Mor says:

    It’s not just the costume, it’s the pose too! He loves the nightlife, he loves to boogie!

  9. Rendu says:

    @Jeff Hebert:
    1. Is peach or salmon really an improvement over pink?
    2. Yes, some costumes work better on certain genders. It works both ways. Many (many!) years ago, I was at a con where Chris Claremont was talking about doing a modern-day version of the Marvel WWII-era Invaders, including Union Jack (http://marvel.com/universe/Union_Jack_(Montgomery_Falsworth)). Being Chris Claremont, he considered making the new version female. Her real name would be “Jacqueline”, you see, so she could be “Union Jaq”. The idea was shelved when he had to admit that the classic Union Jack costume just wouldn’t work on a female torso.

  10. J says:

    Personally I think peach and salmon are an improvement over pink. I wouldn’t wear those colors either but IMO peach and salmon are closer to the orange family.

  11. Kalkin says:

    Wanda Maximoff wore pink on her thighs some time ago. She made relatively successful color (although I have to admit her costume did suck due to the weird headgear, whatever tiara-hat-modern art-contraption that was).

    Anyway, I had a thought about those bright rainbow colors many superheroes are wearing. Maybe its purpose is to disable bad guys. Think about it: Gangsters are locked in a tight melee with a hero and all they can see is a mess of bright colors. That should disorient them and maybe even give them a vision impairing migraine. I know from personal experience, how large blind spots migraine can cause so I know, how great a handicap it’d be. Maybe that’s why so many gangsters are so easily taken down by lightly armed heroes.

  12. Jadebrain_Prime says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think before the 1920’s, pink was a man’s color…

    Not that it matters, ’cause this was probably made after the 1920’s.

  13. Fishpants says:

    I think they used those little masks because they seemed to work so well for old-timey escaped bank robbers. You know, when the striped clothes and big bags with dollar signs didn’t give them away.

    Maybe this should be a character contest. Come up with a badass male superhero with pink as a main color in the costume. Can it be done?