Speaking of Cosmic … as in, cosmically BAD

Jack "King" Kirby had a very distinctive style, one that (love it or hate it) worked for the kinds of stories he told. You can tell at a glance a character that Kirby designed, and when put into one of his worlds those characters fit, no matter how ridiculous they might look in isolation. As an example, take a look at his New God, "Orion":

The guy's wearing magical flying slippers powered by hand-held vacuum cleaners, for pity's sake! Yes, it's a temporary transport device, but he wore it an awful lot.

Besides being literally harnessed to a massive metal contraption guaranteed to make him wobble like a Weeble and dressed in the ubiquitous circus trunks popular Back In The Day, the fact is, this guy rocks. When powered by Kirby's frenetic, kinetic, masterfully laid out pages, he almost jumps off the page and makes you believe someone in this ridiculous getup could actually be a bad-ass.

Contrast that with this Orion redesign from the Nineties:

On the one hand, the ironworks are gone and he's in something that looks slightly more mainstream. On the other hand, you have pointless giant metal head fins. What is he, a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado? The ginormous shoulder pads would restrict his movement even more than the harness would have, and in return you have a somewhat jarring primary blue, red, white, and yellow cacophony all mashed together.

I'm not sure if that ... thing ... hanging down from his belt is a mud flap, a loin cloth, a massively over-engineered cup, or just compensation for the fact that he's wearing a skirt, but it looks way too phallic to be taken seriously. Especially when combined with the nonsensical boots.

I've avoided talking about that face, because technically that's not really a costume part. But let's get real, that's insane. I mean, Orion has a penchant for fury and rage in battle, that's kind of his thing, but in this case he looks less like a berserker and more like someone desperately seeking a bathroom. Which may explain the huge yellow cloud of gas emanating in the background ...

Either way, this costume redesign stinks! You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask of the ol' Lone Ranger and you don't mess around with King Kirby.

(Images © DC Comics.)

18 Responses to Speaking of Cosmic … as in, cosmically BAD

  1. Worf says:

    OW! My eyes!!!! You people are trying to make me go either crazy or blind this week. First the deadpool/little pony crossover, now this monstrosity.

    Jeff, at least give us a break and discourse about how bad Powergirl’s costume is. 😉

  2. Jeff Hebert says:

    Power Girl is an option, sure. My best guess on her is that the massive stretchy unitard thong they put her in squeezed all her abdominal organs into her chest, hence the massive cleavage.

  3. punkjay says:

    I think the worst part of the 90’s remake of Orion is not the helmut (which is horrendous), But the colors. The colors are so contrast and stark it makes him really hard to look at. And why does a 90’s charactor remake have 80’s heavy metal hair? Also the “matalic” parts of his costume are too white. There should be a lot more shading.

  4. Dan says:

    I have never actually seen that 90’s redesign before, but I avoided most DC stuff back then. Personally, I always thought Orion looked like a fool, even the Kirby design. I never got “Angry Guy” from it, unless he was pissed that he couldn’t see through his helmet.

  5. Moognation says:

    I was gonna say that I thought the giant metal head fins were ailerons which Orion used to help steer himself through the cosmos.

    But, then I figured some jackhole would comment that he wouldn’t need ailerons in space because there’s no air resistance.

    Then, I would’ve called him a tool for not getting my joke (all the while kicking myself for my mental gaff!).

    He would’ve responded with a “You’re the tool!” rejoinder to which I would’ve shouted, “No, You are!”

    No doubt, that would’ve devolved into an entire series of “Nuh-uh!/Uh-huh!” back and forths, and I would’ve eventually slammed my keyboard on my desk, and punched my computer screen smashing both it, and my hand.

    Since I’m at work, such an outburst would bring unwanted attention from my coworkers and/or boss, and I’d most likely be reprimanded and sent to the company shrink.

    So, I’m choosing not to respond…

  6. Myro says:

    I’ve avoided talking about that face, because technically that’s not really a costume part. But let’s get real, that’s insane. I mean, Orion has a penchant for fury and rage in battle, that’s kind of his thing, but in this case he looks less like a berserker and more like someone desperately seeking a bathroom. Which may explain the huge yellow cloud of gas emanating in the background …

    Really? I thought urinating in space was like urinating in the pool. Try to look inconspicuous while doing it, and no one is going to notice.
    I actually have nothing to add to this that hasn’t been said. Yeah, the original costume looks kind of goofy, but Kirby had a way of making that work for him. The 90s version was super garish by contrast.
    Moognation (5): Your non-comment actually made me laugh.

  7. Corran Horn says:

    Moongnation, your comment is going into my top five comments of all time.

    Now, it is ridiculous that someone would say that these costumes are okay. No one would say that. It’s thoroughly inconceivable!!

  8. Blazing Tornado says:

    “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape”
    Design-wise, lately DC’s been tugging on Superman’s EVERYTHING but the cape. ¬_¬

  9. Reader Kate says:

    I was trying to figure out why Kirby’s Orion looked so cool, despite a costume that should have been ridiculous. I think it’s because all the doodads on his outfit look as if they DO something. You get the feeling that they perform a function, even if you’re not sure what that function is. Also, he’s wearing an expression of grim determination that’s far more intimidating that tne howling, cross-eyed loon in Photo #2.

  10. Jeff Hebert says:

    Excellent points, Reader Kate.

  11. spidercow2010 says:

    All I know is, I want all of my electronic apparatus designed by Kirby. Starting with my phone. Also Kirby cars, bikes, architecture even Samson would respect–or be too freaked out by to demolish. Why stop there? Think of it: Military forces with uniforms and armament designed by Kirby. Shock & awe, my friends, shock & awe…

  12. spidercow2010 says:

    I realize he’s not in any shape to design anything anymore, but couldn’t somebody pick up the ball? The krackly, shiny ball covered with doo-dads?

  13. Ogami Itto says:

    God the 90s were awful. I’m glad I took most of the decade off from comics and avoided horrible redesigns like that.

  14. Brad says:

    This makes me glad I only got into comics recently after all. That’s just scary horrible.

  15. Doornik1142 says:

    The thing that gets to me is the skirt armor. I hate when comic artists add skirt armor to a character who clearly doesn’t need it. Skirt armor was designed to protect the waist and crotch area on a suit of plate armor because a set of metal pants wouldn’t be flexible enough and mail pants alone would be too weak.

    Orion is from a civilization so technologically advanced that they are considered gods. I daresay they’ve got the tech to protect a man’s crotch without a set of skirt armor. Which goes back to Reader Kate’s point about everything on the classic costume looking like it actually does something.

  16. thejay says:

    What if Steve Jobs and Jack Kirby had a baby?

  17. spidercow2010 says:

    We’d all be riding flying silver surfboards by now.

  18. spidercow2010 says:

    Although the two guys reproducing would be the biggest breakthrough.