Guest Post by Trish Heinrich
We have all seen it. The superhero woman with the outfit that barely covers her ample bosom and bottom, her well-muscled legs encased in thigh high boots with towering heels.
“How does she fight in that thing?” is usually the first question, closely followed by, “Why can’t men draw women heroes with some clothes on and wearing a sensible pair of shoes?”
At least, that’s my first thought.
I write superhero novels, and right from the start I was determined that my non-powered female hero would NEVER wear heels or a bikini when fighting crime.
But then came the question: So, what would she wear? And what would it be made out of?
My novels are set in the past on an alternate earth, and so I didn’t want to go down the Iron Man route with a nanobot-created suit. Nor did I want the weird rubber get-up that Batman is often shown in.
So, I decided that I was going to go a little old school.
That’s where I hit a bit of a snag. I had no idea what a good kind of body armor would be. It had to be flexible enough for her to move, but also protect her from most injuries. I was willing to go a little futuristic here, after all, I’m crafting fiction not a research paper. But how far and with what exactly?
After hours on the internet, I found what I was looking for.
In World War II, DuPont created a ballistic nylon for flak jackets. It wouldn’t stop a bullet, but it was incredibly strong and tough enough to protect the wearer from the shrapnel of a battle field. This fabric is very stiff, heavy and a bit bulky. I thought it would be perfect for my male heroes’ suits, but not for my main character, Alice. I envisioned something for her that was more along the lines of what Batgirl wore or Kate Beckinsale in the Underworld movie.
That’s when I discovered that back in the day (way back) there was a way to layer water hardened leather and other fabrics to create a very hard to penetrate textile that also provided good range of motion.
I was ecstatic and decided to have my tech person in the novels (an amazing young woman by the name of Rose) construct a suit for Alice that used all of this. Rose constructs a suit that has ballistic nylon sewn between two pieces of layered, hardened leather, providing Alice with the ability to move and fight, while also giving her a type of body armor. This is the first version of the Serpent suit that Alice wears in book one, Serpent’s Return.
But then comes the sequel.
In doing my research, I discovered that the person we have to thank for Kevlar is a woman by the name of Stephanie Kwolek. She was a scientist at DuPont who was researching how to make better tires so that cars would be more fuel efficient when she ended up inventing the fiber Kevlar. In fact, a new science sprung up from the discovery: polymer chemistry.
I give a nod to this amazing woman in the third book, Steel’s Fate, when Rose mentions that a friend at DuPont helped her figure out a new lining for Alice’s suit. Now, instead of a layer of ballistic nylon sewn between two pieces of thick leather armor, we have Kevlar. Of course, it’s not as flexible as the ballistic nylon, so Alice’s current suit has the Kevlar in the most vital places: the chest and stomach, her back, and on her thighs and upper arms. Even her cohort Marco now has a vest reinforced with Kevlar plates for added protection.
In later books, I hope to explore more technology and have some fun with things like nanobots, but for now, I’m enjoying the challenge of coming up with solutions to the problems that superheroes face without all the fancy tech heroes enjoy these days.
Thanks for reading. And if you enjoyed this little sneak peek, you can find The Vigilantes: The Rise of Heroes series on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.Follow us online: