Thumbnail: Medusa has the Most Amazing Hair in Comics
Hair often plays a defining role in the presentation of female characters in superhero comics, from Jean Grey’s foreshadowing flame-red hair, to Storm’s hair-centric transformation into a street-fighting badass. In this is probably because women are expected to have more hair options; it may also owe something to how these characters are often designed to look like supermodels, with very similar facial design, so that their hair is the easiest way to tell them apart. Put Emma Frost and Dazzler in the same costume (as Chris Bachalo has done) and you may have no idea who's who.
This can be a little problematic, but it actually also gives Marvel a strange way to set its prospective next big-budget franchise apart --- because if there's one thing Jack Kirby taught us, it's that Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans, has amazing hair.
It’s her defining physical trait because it’s her power set – she has complete control over each hair, and grows it out to huge, room-dwarfing dimensions, making her more imposing in both the throne-room and in battle. It's also a strong visual identifier that sets her apart.
The sheer volume of Medusa’s hair is unearthly, and quietly underlines the Inhuman concept even when she’s not the focus of a panel. It floats and flits around, unencumbered by the gravity which affects every other Marvel character. Natural forces have no affect on her. She may sometimes still be drawn with the same face as other female characters, but that wandering hair identifies her as something positively uncanny.
In Skottie Young's cover above, her hair makes her stand out even among the strange cast of FF --- even next to a woman in a Thing suit. She's got human features, but her hair spirals unsettlingly upwards. Medusa is a gift to comic artists, giving them free reign to attempt strangest and stunning compositions, and cementing her place as one of the most weirdly authentic aliens in the Marvel universe.
In a future where Marvel want to emphasize the Inhumans as their new outsiders-of-choice, it's Medusa's hair that proves them to be the publisher's most valuable asset.
Thumbnail is a new recurring feature on ComicsAlliance in which we invite our writers to reflect on comic book details that deserve a little extra attention, whether it’s a favorite character, an artistic choice, or a striking composition.