She-Hulk fashion designer Luke Jacobson is a deep-cut Marvel cameo

She-Hulk fashion designer Luke Jacobson is a deep-cut Marvel cameo

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It may seem like every episode of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, be it a TV episode or movie, contains something that makes fans go “Oooh, Easter egg!” But in its fifth episode, She-Hulk: Lawyer may well have become the crowned monarch of Marvel Comics deep cuts.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a brave new world. The MCU just referenced: Dakota North.

[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for She-Hulk episode 5.]

Image: Marvel Studios

She-Hulk Episode 5 learns the sartorial problems of a woman who can grow two feet tall and several hundred pounds of muscle at will. But luckily, Jen’s bestie/paralegal is already working on a solution, tracking down the secretive fashion designer Luke Jacobson – played by The stewardess‘s Griffin Matthews – who designs battle gear only for superheroes. But with a little persuasion, he agrees to take on the challenge of creating a transitional wardrobe for Jen. Not a “transition” from summer to fall, or day to night, but Jen to She-Hulk.

The answer to the question “Who designs and produces all these superhero outfits?” is one that comic book creators have often answered in creative ways. In Gotham City in the 2000s there was… the tailor, a neutral player who dressed both hero and villain. In Marvel Comics, the Wasp is both a founding member of the Avengers and an internationally renowned fashion designer who also creates superhero clothes for her friends. And the mutant culture has its own exclusive top designer, the four-armed Jumbo carnation.

But Luke Jacobson? It’s a trait of the little known Dakota North.

As Keith Silva wrote in a 2018 article for the Comics Journal: “Say Dakota North was an outlier is a disservice to outliers.” The first issue of the series was published in June 1986 and the fifth and final installment came eight months later. Written by Martha Thomases and drawn by Tony Salmons, both essentially newcomers to comic book making, it’s a concept so unique in scope and bizarre in tone that the only place it went was in (glorious, fascinating) flames. . Dakota North wasn’t even in the Marvel Comics universe, though his lead role, Dakota, would eventually appear in in-universe comics alongside characters like Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Power Pack.

Who is Dakota North? She is the leather jacket-wearing, quip, motorcycling, butt-kicking, take-no-shit head and sole operational associate of, as Silva puts it, an “international private security firm specializing in crime cases within the fashion industry.” And Luke Jacobson was her first case.

Who is Luke Jacobson?

Luke Jacobson, a well-built man with a shoulder-length blond mane, tears a red scarf from a mannequin.  “The woman of my dreams is afraid of nothing and no one.  She is strong.  She's free.  She's like Dakota North!

Image: Martha Thomases, Tony Salmons/Marvel Comics

Well, he is a fashion designer who unknowingly becomes entangled in a complicated business intrigue that is threatened with violence. He is a dead bell for Fabio, is generally useless and dances to Donna Summer. He also constantly proposes marriage and expresses his love for Dakota – despite, or perhaps in an editorial sense, because from what you’ve probably already gathered: he would definitely be gay.

Writer Martha Thomases told Silva that Jacobson was based on “my friend, the fashion designer David Freelander, who died of AIDS in 1987. I would have liked the character to be gay and HIV+ too, but [Marvel editor Larry Hama] said that wasn’t why people read comics. I suspect if the series had continued, we would have gone there.”

Image:

“Fire Island,” huh?
Image: Martha Thomases, Tony Salmons/Marvel Comics

Thomases may have been hopeful, but Marvel Comics’ history of completely banning or otherwise downplaying queer characters would pass for quite a few years longer.

Out of only five songs from Dakota North, Luke appeared in only three, and never made it into the main Marvel universe. Will be She-Hulk: Lawyer incarnation inspire comic book writers to set that right? Dear, I hope so.

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