Some cosplayers are expert sewers or tailors. Some are master craftspeople. Others are really creative with odd materials. And every now and again, you find cosplayers who are also special effects makeup artists, like Elena Nerium Oleander. A quick look at her Deviant Art page is enough to make anyone’s jaw drop. A Red Skull cosplay definitely requires some good makeup work or a killer mask, but Elena takes it to another level.
Red Skull, born Johann Shmidt, had a lonely childhood and a teenage life of petty theft and crime, managing to only work menial jobs as a young adult. When working as a bellhop in a posh hotel (his best work gig to date), Shmidt attended to Adolf Hitler and was quickly recruited by Hitler, who sensed his dark nature.
Dissatisfied with Schmidt’s training, Hitler took over personally. Upon completion of that training, Hitler gave Shmidt a unique uniform and a grotesque red skull mask, making him the Red Skull. Red Skull’s became the embodiment of Nazi intimidation, so that Hitler could remain the popular leader of Germany. The Red Skull was appointed head of Nazi terrorist activities, with extended roles of espionage and sabotage. He proved extremely successful in wreaking havoc throughout Europe in the early stages of World War II. The propaganda effect was so great that the US government countered it by creating their own equivalent: Steve Rogers, aka Captain America.
The counterparts clashed in what would be a series of engagements throughout the war, ending with a final battle that left the Red Skull buried, but alive in suspended animation. He was eventually rescued in modern time by the terrorist organization, HYDRA. The Skull quickly subverted a HYDRA cell to his own ambitions of world conquest and the death of Captain America.
Red Skull first appeared in Captain America comics in 1941. Since then, he’s been adapted into other media, including animated programs, live action movies, such as Captain America: The First Avenger, videogames, merchandise, and, naturally, cosplay.
To look at Elena Nerium Oleander‘s take on Red Skull is to be both attracted and disturbed, which is to say that this cosplay and its visual presentation are perfect. The prothetic makeup is amazing, and her use of color and shading on her face and extending down neck to chest is remarkable, and really badass. The costume is spot on, and the whole look is eery, intimidating, and yet subversively sexy. Cosplay is a form of art, and all good art should push boundaries. Elena’s work certainly does, and for that we say, “Hail HYDRA.”
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