Strange Comic Trends: Fishnets Times Two
The history of fishnets in the medium of comics is an often bizarre one, and can be traced to their popularity and perception in fashion. In their earliest days, they were often associated with activities that were considered scandalous, not even necessarily through prostitution, but simply as part of a forbidden dress code. When the character of Black Canary was first introduced, she was shown sporting the form of hosiery, not particularly effective in crimefighting, but also speaking to the influences of her character, that of a femme fatale, who could dish out a punch to those that mistook her appearance for something else. For a long time Black Canary was the only character that ever wore them. Black stockings were common enough at one point in the medium through romance comics, but these were often shown as a sequence of bluish Ben Day dots as opposed to a true black. It was hard to show female hosiery in any detail and so artists tended to stay away from it. Zatanna came along and her most common costume featured fishnets, even when she sported various other versions. Incidentally so too did Black Canary wear other versions of a costume and had even done away with the fishnets after the Birds of Prey reboot of the character in the 1990s.
At some point though fishnets became part of popular fashion, or at least gained the respect that they could be worn without a stigma attached to them. Instead of a forbidden accessory they now represent edginess or being a little bit different from the pack. Even then though, it is a rarity to see any comic characters wearing them. They are still common enough on Black Canary and Zatanna, and two Grimm Fairy Tales characters also wear them often (The Queen of Spades and Liesel Van Helsing). Strangely in recent years they have also been a common enough accessory of Veronica Lodge at Archie Comics, but this week’s double release of two character from two different companies wearing fishnets on covers might be the first time that it has happened in comic book history (especially considering the numerous variant covers with Liesel all wearing the same). Although they have been around since the 1940s, they have never really caught on as a stylistic element of most characters’ costumes, and so seeing them twice on the same release day is truly an anomaly.