Dressed for Action
By GEORGE GENE GUSTINES
Published: May 20, 2009 Ready to Save the Day: Tim Gunn (and Iron Man) in a version of the first cover of “Models Inc.”
THE heroes of Marvel Entertainment have foiled everything from bank robberies to alien invasions — usually with their fists. But when a young set designer is murdered during New York Fashion Week, solving the crime falls to more delicate hands.
On Aug. 26, Marvel will release the first issue of “Models Inc.,” a sartorially minded mini-series that unites some of its fashion-friendly supporting characters and pushes them into new starring roles.
The runway divas include Millicent Collins (a k a Millie the Model), Patsy Walker, also known as the superheroine Hellcat, and Mary Jane, the model-turned actress who is the sometimes wife of Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man.
The women team up to clear Millicent, who is the prime suspect in the murder of the set designer. Think of it as “Charlie’s Angels” set in the fashion world.
But what would the angels be without someone to guide them? Enter Tim Gunn of “Project Runway.” In the debut issue’s second story, Mr. Gunn becomes an action figure — jumping into Iron Man’s suit of armor to save a fashion exhibition from evildoers.
It’s certainly a departure from Mr. Gunn’s usual role as a mentor to aspiring designers, but there is a connection. Mr. Gunn said he remembered comic books with Millicent, who first appeared in 1945. She was a comic romantic figure, who worked as a model for the Hanover agency.
Mr. Gunn will grace one version of the first cover of “Models Inc.,” drawn by Phil Jimenez, a popular comic book artist who also illustrated the cover of “Amazing Spider-Man” No. 583, which paired Spidey with President Obama. A sales analysis on the Beat, the comic blog of Publishers Weekly, estimated that more than 520,000 copies of the issue were sold.
Can Mr. Gunn persuade fashionistas that these comic books are as valuable as the September issue of Vogue?
Mr. Gunn doesn’t claim to know, but he is as surprised as your average Hulk reader that he is now a Marvel action figure.
“I’m not certain of the particulars of how I’ll be portrayed, but I’m really excited about it,” Mr. Gunn said. “To say I’m a character in a comic book is wild!”