When we consider children’s books and comics, we typically think in terms of interesting characters and compelling stories. So while the focus of children’s books is not on armor, some of the tales taking place in fantasy setting, have armor that plays an important part of the story. After all, The Lord of the Rings tale would have turned out very differently if Frodo had not been wearing mithril armor when he was stabbed by the troll in Moria.
Compiled below are some famous suits of armor from children’s books, comics, and graphic novels. With San Diego Comic-Con just around the bend, these armor choices could serve as inspiration for SDCC cosplay as well.
The Witch King of Angmar
“The Lord of the Rings” series by J.R.R. Tolkien
This guy is Sauron’s right-hand man, er, wraith. If you had any doubts about his alignment, a spiky helmet is always a tipoff that someone works for the dark side. Although you can’t really see it in this photo, his gauntlets and boots are beautifully crafted. Plus, he one-handedly wields a mace the size of a naval mine!
“The Witch-king of Angmar, also known as the Lord of the Nazgûl and the Black Captain, is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth fantasy writings. In Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings, he is the chief of the Nazgûl (Ringwraiths), the chief servants of the Dark Lord Sauron. His name is not revealed in any of Tolkien’s writings, nor are the names of any of the other Nazgûl, except Khamûl.”
“Thor” by Marvel Comics
Here is actor Chris Hemsworth rockin’ Thor’s combination plate and scale armor. I’m not sure why Thor and Loki wear armor, since they appear to be indestructible (recall the beating The Hulk gave Loki in The Avengers movie). And although Edna Mode is not a fan of capes, the red cape really sets off Thor’s armor nicely.
“Thor is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Journey into Mystery #83 (Aug. 1962) and was created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby.
Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the character is based on the god Thor of Norse mythology. He has starred in several ongoing series and limited series, and has been a perennial member of the superhero team the Avengers, appearing in each volume of that series.
The 2011 film Thor, based on the character and comic, was directed by Kenneth Branagh and starred Chris Hemsworth as Thor. Hemsworth reappears as Thor in The Avengers, and Thor: The Dark World is set for release in 2013. Thor placed 14th on IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time in 2011.”
“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
Elrond is one of the senior elves left in Middle-earth, and bearer of one of the three Elven rings of power. As befits an Elf Lord, he is wearing stunningly beautiful armor. The mauve and gold colors are striking, and the gracefully curving lines convey the armor’s elvish provenance.
“Elrond Half-elven is a fictional character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in The Hobbit, and plays a supporting role in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion”.
Elrond was Lord of Rivendell, one of the mighty rulers of old that remained in Middle-earth in its Third Age. He was the son of Eärendil and Elwing, and a great-grandson of Lúthien, born in Beleriand in the First Age, making him well over 6,000 years old by the time of the events described in “The Lord of the Rings”. Elrond’s twin brother was Elros Tar-Minyatur, the first High King of Númenor.”
“Batman” by DC Comics
Flexible black armor that renders you bulletproof! What’s not to like? Plus a utility belt with all kinds of useful gadgets. And a cape that lets Batman glide. Protective, functional, and stylish!
“Batman is an ongoing comic book series featuring the DC Comics hero of the same name. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27, published in May 1939. Batman proved to be so popular that a self-titled ongoing comic book series began publication in the spring of 1940. It was first advertised in early April 1940, one month after the first appearance of his new sidekick, Robin, the Boy Wonder.
The first stories appearing in the Batman comic were written by Bill Finger and illustrated by Bob Kane, though Finger went uncredited for years thereafter. These early stories depicted a vengeful Batman, not hesitant to kill when he saw it as a necessary sacrifice. Although not canonical, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns introduced a significant evolution of the Batman’s character in his eponymous series; he became uncompromising and relentless in his struggle to revitalize Gotham. The Batman often exhibited behavior that Gotham’s elite labeled as excessively violent as well as antisocial tendencies. Miller portrayed him with an anti-heroic and near villainous characterization.”
“The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman
Three words: Talking. Polar. Bear. In gold plate armor. OK, seven words. Imagine the power and ferocity of a polar bear, encased in the protective embrace of lovingly crafted sky-iron.
‘Northern Lights’, known as ‘The Golden Compass’ in North America, is a young-adult fantasy novel by Philip Pullman, published by Scholastic UK in 1995. Set in a universe parallel to ours, it features the journey of Lyra Belacqua to the Arctic in search of her missing friend, Roger Parslow, and her imprisoned “uncle”, Lord Asriel, who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance known as “Dust”. Northern Lights is the first book of a trilogy, ‘His Dark Materials’.
King Iorek Byrnison is a male armored bear (panserbjørner in Norwegian). Like all Panserbjørner, Iorek follows a very strict code of conduct, and will not, in any situation, betray a promise he has made. He possesses incredible strength, and like many of his kind is an expert smith. He is a great friend and comrade to both Lyra Belacqua and Lee Scoresby.
During the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Northern Lights, Iorek Byrnison is found shaping metal for humans in an Arctic port town. These humans had deceived Iorek by giving him spirits, then stole his sky-iron armor while he was intoxicated: this left him no choice but to work for the humans.”
“Hellboy” by Dark Horse Comics
Admittedly, it is hard to not think about Prince Nuada’s extendable spear and his incredible fighting prowess. But his beautiful leather armor is light and flexible, and therefore better suited to his lightning fast fighting style than would be clumsy plate mail.
“Hellboy is a fictional character, a comic book superhero created by writer-artist Mike Mignola. The character first appeared in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 (Aug. 1993), and has since appeared in various eponymous miniseries, one-shots and inter-company crossovers. The character has been adapted into two live-action feature films in 2004 and 2008. Prince Nuada was the villain in the latter film.”
Prince Nuada, played by Luke Goss, appears in the Hellboy II movie. He is the son of the Elf King Balor, and brother to Princess Nuala, with whom he shares a symbiotic yin-yang relationship. He resents the diminishment of the Elf realms to the point of madness. His lust to restore the Elves’ former glory leads him to ruthlessly kills a room full of humans, as well as his father, to obtain two pieces of the magical crown that controls the unstoppable mechanical Golden Army.”
“Narnia” by C.S. Lewis
While he is not a named character in the book or movie, this minotaur is sporting some some ornate and evil-looking armor (that’s as it should be, since he’s a minion of the White Witch). Plate armor, combined with steel-tipped horns, immense strength, and feral ferocity make him an opponent to be feared.
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is a high fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published by Geoffrey Bles in 1950. It was the first published of seven novels in “The Chronicles of Narnia” (1950–1956) and it is the best known; among all the author’s books it is the most widely held in libraries.
Most of the novel is set in Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical beings that the White Witch has ruled for one hundred years of deep winter. In the frame story, four English children live in a big old country house during their World War II evacuation from London. In Narnia the siblings seem to fulfill an old prophecy, so they are soon adventuring both to save their lives and to deliver the country.”
“Iron Man” by DC Comics
Iron Man’s armor not only provides protection, but also enables him to fly, fire offensive weapons, and to receive tactical artificial intelligence. This high tech outfit is literally and figuratively the gold standard in armor.
“Iron Man is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee, developed by scripter Larry Lieber, and designed by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby. He made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963).
An American billionaire playboy, industrialist and ingenious engineer, Tony Stark suffers a severe chest injury during a kidnapping in which his captors attempt to force him to build a weapon of mass destruction. He instead creates a powered suit of armor to save his life and escape captivity. He later uses the suit and successive versions to protect the world as Iron Man. Through his corporation ― Stark Industries ― Tony has created many military weapons, some of which, along with other technological devices of his making, have been integrated into his suit, helping him fight crime.
Warriors Working With Wicked Witch of the West
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum
Although formidable in her own right, the Wicked Witch of the West has two sets of minions: those delightfully scary flying monkeys and halberd-wielding and ornately uniformed royal guard. Although the bearskin caps and leather jerkins are impressive looking, their protective value is questionable, given three of them are quickly overpowered by the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion. Still, they had to be included in this list for the sake of nostalgia, if nothing else.
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is a 1900 children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. The story chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy in the Land of Oz, after being swept away from her Kansas farm home in a cyclone.
The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American fantasy adventure film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film stars Judy Garland. Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score, and unusual characters, over the years it has become one of the best known of all films and part of American popular culture. It also featured what may be the most elaborate use of character makeups and special effects in a film up to that time.”
This article is also published in the San Diego Children’s Book Examiner.