View Full Version : October Dawn: History of the superhero costume

07-09-2011, 10:16 PM
I've been inspired to work on an idea for a superhero setting that I am calling October Dawn because of the prediction regarding October 21, 2011, that I am using in this setting. Because I like to give my settings a feeling of history, I worked out the history of the superhero costume in this setting. I'd be interested if there were any comments, thoughts, or suggestions regarding this:

Part of a supers setting is the costumes. But in this universe, people are ambivalent about how they feel about superhero costumes. Some think they are really neat. Others think they are ridiculous. In some areas, superhero costumes are even illegal, or specific types of costume might be illegal.

The tradition of wearing costumes started with the Golden Guys in the 1930s. Ratman was the first costume-wearing superhero, donning a brown bodysuit and mask in 1936 to fight crime. By 1944, there were dozens of caped crusaders crusading all around the world. After the end of the War, there was less for the caped crusaders to do, and many of them retired their capes, especially the heroines. (In the 1940s, more than half the caped crusaders were women, but after 1946, less than 20% were.)

By the mid-1950s there were very few caped crusaders still operating. Ratman continued a crusade against organized crime until 1960. And that was the end.

If you don't count Vietnam. About this time, costumed heroes showed up in southeast Asia.

Then suddenly (to American eyes), Miss Terrific showed up in 1966, wearing a tight swimsuit-style costume with amazing cleavage, very ironic for a woman who was fighting against male chauvenism. She was soon followed by the Superchicks, a group of teenagers who decided it was a good idea to put on masks and swimsuits and fight evil. Other heroines like Draculina, Wondrous Woman, and Ratwoman soon followed. They heyday of the super chicks was in the 1970s, and after 1980s they began to dwindle in number. Many of them went south to Latin America.

In reaction to the superchicks, many cities passed ordinances prohibiting such attire, and arresting those they could catch wearing it. Many of those laws are still on the books, although not likely to be enforced because nobody wants to crack down on the plague of cosplay.

The Superchicks inspired a number of Black activists, who decided that the Golden Guy style costumes were more appropriate for bringing justice to the Black world. Many called them the Silver Guys, and occassionally this inspired them to take names like Silver Hawk.

Meanwhile, in Latin America, many men and women were taking on the Zorro tradition, donning masks and capes and renaissance attire to do battle against whom they believed were evil doers. Unfortunately, the situation in Latin America is so complicated that it is often hard to know who the good guys actually are. There are a lot of Robin Hood type heroes in the Amazon rainforest. Many Latin American countries make dressing up in this sort of attire illegal, however whether or not these laws are enforced depends on who is currently in charge and what side they believe the Zorro is on.

In post-colonial Africa, a few guys have tried the Golden Guy tradition, but that sometimes strikes people of smacking too much as cultural imperialism. So African heroes have tended to wear traditional garb. Heroines have often adopted the Superchicks approach of stylized swimsuits because of the heat and because traditional African female attire is often impractical for fighting crime.

The 90s were another era where the need for superheroes was receeding. Latin American countries were finding peace, crime in American cities was dropping, and Indochina was settling down and ending their warfare. A few Russians adopted Golden Guy personas to fight crime and evil. Russian superheroines usually adopt Golden Gal costumes, or occassionally Superchick costumes. There are a number who dress in variations of Starwoman's costume. Superheroes were still common in Africa.

Then in 2001, the War on Terror started. This opened up chaos in the middle eastern countries, leading to violence, corruption, and a few Golden Guys (and Gals) arose, and eventually the Dancers arose, flauting the puritanical shieks by donning belly dancer attire to fight evil. This is a very dangerous occupation. If found in America, anti superchick or anti zorro laws might be used against them.

Meanwhile, the drug war and political conflicts in Latin America started to heat up, bringing back the Zorros. Superchicks are back in cities that threated to regress into barbarism. More Golden Guys are coming up in Russia.

---------- Post added at 10:16 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:14 PM ----------

Oh, wait, I forgot to mention Bangladesh.