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Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Defense of the Star Sapphire Costume (Sort Of)

Recently, on AIM, Ragnell and I got into a discussion about one of our favorite topics: Carol Ferris's costume. See, Ragnell HATES the costume. I on the other hand find it simply hilarious. But also, I actually think it provides an interesting insight into the character*.

(* Of course, this doesn't mean the creators INTENDED such insight, but well, the best part of being a comics fan is trying to make sense of the unexplainable.)

Now before you think I have absolutely no taste (which is probably true, but not in this case) I freely acknowledge that the costume is probably the ugliest thing in the universe. But in a weird way, I think it suits.

The thing that I've always liked about the variations of the Green Lantern costume is the way it reflects the owners' personal tastes and personalities. Hal's is default, which makes sense as for all his ego, he IS a military man and understands the power of the uniform. John's costume is less flashy, more sober and dignified, which reflects his gravitas. Arisia looks like a little girl trying (and failing) to be sexy. Kyle's first costume was a kid's idea for a superhero costume, while his second, designed after he had a better grasp of what the Corps actually was and whose footsteps he was following, reflected a more traditional design, but with a hint of non-conformity in the collar. Guy's is a drastic contrast from the spandex of his colleagues in a way that probably ought to have its own post.

In the same way, I think that the Star Sapphire costume reflects Carol Ferris. That seems a bit ridiculous, since Carol, in her civilian life is a fashionable, well-dressed, dignified business woman. But I think that's part of the point.

When Carol and Hal were first working together, in the Silver Age, he would pursue her bordering on the edge of sexual harassment. She, however, could never really pursue him back for many reasons, including her own personality and her position as his boss. She WANTED him, of course, but it couldn't happen.

(It's a fairly decent reflection of the problems facing women who have high positions in the business world, where it can feel like the only way to get respect as a professional is to essentially sacrifice any appearance of femininity or sexuality. The "frigid bitch female boss" caricature is prevalent for a reason. I find it interesting that the older I get, the more I sympathize and understand Carol's position in those comics. I find it depressing that in thirty or forty years, the situation is still so recognizable.)

Then came the Star Sapphire which opened the relationship to new levels, in entertainingly kinky ways. At least until the mess with the Predator, and all, but that's a tangent.

I think it's fairly important however to note that the Star Sapphire has always had kind of a freeing element to it. Carol, as the Star Sapphire, got to have power and use it, while still embracing her sexuality at the same time. This got ruined once the Predator stuff kicked in, but that element is still applicable now, I think.

Her costume was admittedly more tasteful then, but there's some additional pressure now. It's always hard to pinpoint DC's timeline, but the Star Sapphire storyline began pretty early in Hal's run, and we know that he's been Green Lantern for more than ten years by now. Carol's still a business-woman, with all the pressure that entails, married and then divorced, and she's definitely pushing past forty.

She's also been stuck in a mundane life after playing with aliens and near infinite power. That's got to be rough too.

So, really, it's not that surprising that now that she's once more a Star Sapphire, she's found herself in a costume like that. Think about it. Some of the most buttoned up, repressed people end up being kinky as hell once you get them behind closed doors, and Carol's had twenty years of repression and trying to meet the expectations of everyone else.

The costume is hideous, weird, alien and revealing. It's about as far from a repressed business woman's attire as you can get. Even the ugliness makes a nice contrast to Carol's normal, tasteful attire. And the thigh high boots, and nonsensical collar and other ridiculous design elements...well, you definitely can't say they're DOWNPLAYING sexuality.

So basically, since I read it in the sense of it reflecting Carol's personal hang-ups that I may or may not be projecting a little out of over-identification, I kind of like it.

Of course, the problem with my theory is that the costume seems to be the default for all new Star Sapphires. At the very least, it seems to pop up a lot in crowd scenes. But I can fanwank two possible explanations, I suppose. 1) they're following Carol, or 2) it's the Zamaron's design.

And actually, it works for me as a Zamaron design as well. That at least would explain the weirdness (aliens) and it reminds me of some quote I read once and can't remember where.

It basically argued that any woman could look attractive in pretty, flattering clothes, but it took a truly beautiful woman to look good wearing a potato sack.

If a guy (or gal) is in love/lust with you when you're wearing something THAT awful, then you can believe his/her feelings are real.

And then of course, you can explain it away as it fitting so well with Carol's own hang-ups that she won't (or can't) change it.

So yeah, I don't deny that the Star Sapphire costume is utterly, patently stupid-looking and hideous, but it actually does work for me.

Besides, it's fucking hilarious. :-P


  • At November 29, 2009 9:58 AM, Blogger SallyP said…'s just so PINK! But nevertheless, I'm pretty sure that Hal would find it to be mesmerizing.

    Perhaps the Star Sapphire's costumes represent different aspects of "love". You've got the sexual ones, of Carol and Fatality, contrasted with the more restrained one of Miri for example.

    That's a good point about Carol feeling a tad frustrated however. In order to get any sort of respect or to be able to wield any sort of authority, she had to tamp down any overt displays of femininity as a female boss. Hal of course, was free to misbehave as much as he liked. And get away with it, because he's just so bloody charming.

    And I like the idea of the Green Lanterns personalities dictating the forms of their costumes as well.

  • At November 29, 2009 10:19 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    There's the added bonus of distracting Hal. Seeing as he has an attention span of a newt.

  • At November 29, 2009 2:03 PM, Anonymous Michael Rawdon said…

    The costume is "probably the ugliest thing in the universe"? Worse than the Witchblade 'costume'? Well, okay, it's practically the Witchblade outfit but in pink, so maybe you're right.

  • At November 29, 2009 2:23 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    It's the ugliest thing in the DC Universe at least?

  • At December 01, 2009 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What I want is some sane explanation for the Star Sapphires' gender discrimination. I mean, I suppose Miss Bloss might be a male of "her" species, but I doubt that was the intent.

    The "Secret of the Star Sapphire" arc suggested that the gem's intelligence is sex-obsessed. Perhaps that has something to do with the costume design?

    -- Jack of Spades, who likes Miri's costume better too

  • At December 04, 2009 8:35 AM, Blogger Martin Gray said…

    Wonderful piece, very smart! I have a soft spot for Carol's Silver Age look, so demure.

    Remember the Gil Kane high-hatted monstrosity? I think she was wearing that when she sliced up poor Katma Tui. I've packed in with the GL books - have they had Carol confront that act? Last I saw, in Blackest Night #1, Geoff Johns glosses right over the incident.

  • At September 22, 2010 5:14 PM, Anonymous Sildenafil said…

    I think people always have their way to wearing for example I like to wear just with my t-shirt without anything else over me when I'm at home.

  • At October 08, 2010 1:44 PM, Anonymous Viagra said…

    This is perfect because I read a passage referred to Green Lantern, that's perfect because he wears the best costume.


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