Comics Alliance Best of 2015: Best Character Redesign of 2015
Our judges have adjudicated; our readers have voted. We’re proud to present to you the best character redesign of 2015 — and four great runners up.
I’ve never cared for the Scarlet Witch, and even less so for her costume. Her red bikini, arm-cape thing, and goofy headband seemed like an outfit as ill-defined and vaguely thought-out as her “reality warping powers.” As with far too many superhero costumes, it felt like a placeholder, one that could be drawn well by amazing artists and drawn poorly by mediocre artists, with no real strength in the design itself.
Kevin Wada’s redesign changed all that; from the strong two-tone color scheme to a headpiece that actually looks like something a person would wear, this is a character design that demonstrates a commitment to character first and foremost. Wada’s Wanda works (say that five times fast) at heightening my interest in the character in a way the original never could. [Ziah Grace]
This is how fantastic Annie Wu is: she had one of the best redesigns of 2015 with probably the fewest changes to the costume. All the things that come to mind when we think of Black Canary are still there — the jacket, the fishnets, the form-hugging leather. With a couple of minor tweaks and a healthy injection of attitude, all of that extant stuff manages to look completely different, and Dinah Lance is completely new, and actually feels more like the real Dinah Lance than ever before.
Black Canary has always been able to kick one's teeth in, but this sneering Siouxsie Sioux of a spy-turned-punker doesn't need to look like a cheesecake model to do it. With scuffed leather and ripped fishnets, curves straightened and soft lines made hard, Wu scrawled something into Dinah Lance that empowered her, and it was thrilling to watch that transformation. There's a snarl in Black Canary now, and it completes her. [John Parker]
Perhaps I’m the only one who sees this, because I’m the sort of person who always strives to see Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis (Neville) wherever possible…. but Fiona Staples' redesign of Archie this year seemed to really draw from the levels of swoon that Lewis brought to us all in 2015.
Staples redesigned all the Archie characters for the relaunched series, but Archie was the one who surprised everyone. Long thought of as the man who didn’t deserve any of the women who wanted him, Staples decided to lean in and make him look more like a real teenager, someone who embraced aspects of One Direction, Justin Bieber, Usher — the rock star stylings that could actually make him a heartthrob. There’s a reason why Twitter started calling him “Heartchie”. [Steve Morris]
Squirrel Girl is a weird character to pin down. She’s been an Avenger, drawn in the requisite style by artists like Mike Deodato, but she’s often felt odd in those incarnations, and she’s rarely been taken seriously. She's fun, but... weird.
Enter Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and Erica Henderson. Henderson’s redesign is hands-down one of the best in recent memory, having done nothing short of redefining the character. Henderson has re-envisioned the character shorter and curvier than she used to be, injecting a much needed dose of body diversity into Marvel's books and the superhero genree. In a brilliant stroke that shows off how thoughtful she is, Henderson even worked Squirrel Girl’s tail into her civilian clothing. In a cap to that, Henderson’s keen interest in fashion continually makes Doreen Green one of the most well-dressed and stylish heroes in comics. [James Leask]
The first challenge of redesigning the Jem characters for 2015 is that they’re so tied to the 1980s. The genius of Sophie Campbell’s take is that, rather than trying to root out the 80s, she embraces it. The pop stars of today are influenced by the past, after all, and Campbell’s Holograms and Misfits keep their 80s style while being unmistakably modern.
She also allows each character their individuality, more so than the originals. Jem, a literal hologram, wears clothes limited only by imagination. Aja, the gearhead, is more punk, with metal accents like chains and zippers. Shana’s the most high fashion, displaying her interest in design. Kimber’s the most dedicated to being a rock star, and she’s queer, so her clothes mix high femme with menswear elements to create a something like a female Bowie.
In the Misfits, Pizzazz is a bratty punk in high-end tatters. Stylish Brit Jetta wears only black and white. Tough girl Roxy is always in pants, usually torn. Queer fat femme Stormer has the cutest dresses. Each character is recognizably themselves even as they fit into their band and the comic’s unified aesthetic. This is a master class in character design from Campbell. [Elle Collins]