Monday, February 19, 2007

Gender Reassignment Challenge: Star Sapphire to Mandarin Garnet

In the gender reversal challenge, I take a very ladylike superheroine costume and redesign it for the male figure, keeping as many of the original elements as possible without making the guy version look like he's in drag. This time, I decided to tackle a supervillainess instead: the notorious Star Sapphire. The Star Sapphire most folks are familiar with is the Silver Age version, who first appeared in a very tasteful outfit designed by Gil Kane.


The girly elements: the color scheme, exposed thighs, and a freakin' tiara.

She's had a goofy assymetrical space-amazon get-up in the 80's and 90's. We shan't speak of it again. But her latest ensemble certainly got tongues wagging!


Yipes. Dominatrix whore much, Star Sapphire? I don't know who's precisely to blame for this. But I'll wag my thick, hairy finger at Ethan VanSciver because to be honest, his art always bugged me. It's basically Brian Bolland minus several years of "life drawing" classes. (And the floating GL insignia he always draws in front of Hal Jordan's chest looks ridiculous.)

The new version's girly elements: big dangly earrings, high heels, and copious boobery (both anatomical and otherwise).

For my male version of Star Sapphire, I first decided I'd have to change the name. "Star Sapphire" is too feminine. I knew I wanted to stick with a gemstone, and something both evocative and plausible for a Silver Age comic. (That's why my first idea -- "Blood Diamond" -- went by the wayside. Too "Image" and also it's a relatively new term, and a politcal term instead of a gemological one. After a little research on gemology, I came up with "Red Emerald." That's one of the names for bixbite, a rare, violet-red stone. I wasn't completely taken with it. It's clumsy and fakey-sounding, and it doesn't scream "supervillain" so much as it does "male stripper." Or a really gay fishing guide! But then I discovered the mandarin garnet! Now, "mandarin" is a great villain name! And "garnet" sounds marginally manlier than "sapphire." Although I recall in "Return to Oz" that Auntie Em's sister is named "Garnet." And before you get all huffy and lecturing, science nerds, I know there is such a thing as a mandarin sapphire. The problem is (according to all the images I've found) the color is washed-out in comparison to the magnificent mandarin garnet. And since the garnet's color is still reddish, it's not too great a change from the pink/magenta of Star Sapphire.

So here's my idea for the Silver Age and modern "Mandarin Garnet":


Er, that's the modern one on the left. And yeah, I kind of over-inked him. Oops.

For the Silver Age version (Carl Ferris!) I changed the tiara into a circlet. To allude to the "bare thighs" thing, I altered the boots, so there's a space between the red on his tights and the red on his calves. And to match the boots, I changed the gloves a little. Since Mandarin Garnet is a guy (no, really!) he can get away with more exposure on the chest. It's very "ballroom dance champion" but I think it works.

Since the current Star Sapphire's costume is already so skimpy, I felt like I could get away with bare thighs on the male version without it looking too girly. To balance out the exposed skin on the thighs, I exposed even more skin on the torso. And yet I covered the nipples, for the more sensitive among my readers. I brought the "tiara" down on his forehead (like I did with the Scarlet Warlock) and I extruded the upper edges into kick-ass devil horns. And since it's modern, he can get away with long hair. And chest fur! RAWK 'N' ROLL!!!

Previous Gender Reassignment Challenges:
Next week: Moral Realignment Challenge: Nightwing and Gizmo!


Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Nice costumes, Wolverine would kick his ass though 'cuz Wolverine always kicks everyone's ass.

Anonymous said...

The Silver-Age variant is spot-on. It wouldn't raise an eyebrow if it were slipped in among a bunch of legit golden- and silver-age costume designs. Solid design too!

The other design, I think, would work very well in a '70s book--to my eyes as well or better than a modern one (folks have gotten way too uptight about exposed man-flesh in comix these days). It's got some Cockrum flair, as well as evoking certain demonic anime characters.

I came back from a comic-con yesterday with a stack of old Epic magazines that I skimmed in a single sitting. I admit it may be coloring my judgement. Go easy.


Phillip said...

I like the Silver Age one best. I'm not too familiar with Dave Cockrum, was he the one who designed stuff like Tyroc's space stripper outfit? 'Coz in that case, your modern Mandarin Garnet would fit in fine.

Both pictures of Star Sapphire include something that your redesign omits- Green Lantern! I know it's not on your schedule of upcoming reassignments, but how's about working up a female "Golden Beacon", or some such?

Marcos said...

Phillip: Dave Cockrum did the original visual design for Wolverine, Storm, and Nightcrawler. Tyroc and the other super-revealing Legion costumes of his era were, I believe, due to Mike Grell.

BB: Dig the Garnet, but what happened to the promised Snowbird->Snowbeast entry?

Captcha: dbhkelwd. Apparently blogger's gone Welsh...

Anonymous said...

Now I'm just embarassed. Grell's Legion costumes are what I was referring to, although I seemed to have picked up the notion that Cockrum designed them. Feh.

That said, I can still see some Cockrum flair in that BB design.

Jeremy Rizza said...

Jon: That's just a given, isn't it? Although I prefer to think that Herbie Popnecker would wipe the floor with Wolverine. Or at least bop him with that there lollipop.

Phillip and Chawunky (YOU were anonymous?): I hadn't even considered that the "modern" costume would be at home in the 70's, but you're absolutely right! He looks like he's about to square off against Shang-Chi!

Mark J.: Twist my arm, why don't you? YEEOWW! Alright, alright, I'll post my "Snowbeast" design two Mondays from now. If you'll recall, I had called it off last year because I didn't think it was enough of a challenge. Snowbird's costume isn't very gender-specific, other than the tiara and the bosom-hugging design on her completely-covered torso. But after I read your comment I went back to it and found a new interpretation that I think strikes a balance between just slapping the original on a guy and going way too far afield from Byrne's design. I think you'll like it.

Anonymous said...

mmmmm, Mandarin Garnet! I always order that at the China Palace. Oh, sorry, all that exposed male skin (I like!) discombobulated me. Excellent work, BB. I look forward to your next gender reassignment.

Anonymous said...

Excellent work- the modern version creeps me out a bit, but then, so does the lady's version, so kudos.

Love the silver-age version is probably my favourite of the four versions. Love his boot-glove-matching, and the man-cleavage. :3