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Cosplaying for a living

Cara Nicole, aka AZ Powergirl, has what some people might consider a dream job: she's a professional cosplayer. While a lot of cosplayers at conventions like Comic-Con or Chrunchyroll dress up as superheroes and villains just for the fun of it, she's one of the lucky people who actually make money transforming into their favorite characters. 

Cara started cosplaying for fun to help support charity groups back in 2010. A year later she started doing it professionally, landing a job with Marvel to appear at its San Diego Comic Con booth.

Here she is as Ms. Marvel. Roy Thomas and Archie Goodwin originally created Carol Danvers as a supporting character to Captain Marvel, also known as Mar-Vell. But Marvel felt the need to create a female superhero who represented the modern liberated women of the 1970s. 

By 1977, after she gained her superpowers thanks to the perfect synthesis of her human DNA with Mar-Vell's Kree DNA, Danvers had her very own solo issue written by Gerry Conway and drawn by John Buscema.

Click through the gallery to see more of Cara's Marvel transformations and find out more about the world of professional cosplay.

Published:Caption:Photo:Alfred Trujillo
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Black Widow

Natalia Alianovna Romanova, best known as Black Widow, debuted in the comic Tales of Suspense #52 in 1964. The book was written by Stan Lee and Don Rico, and the penciller was Don Heck.

In her first appearances, Black Widow's actually a villain, a Russian spy forced to join the "Red Room" facility to save the life of the man who raised her. As part of this program, she was enhanced, and that's why she has a long lifespan and a prolonged youthful appearance.

According to CNET sister site Comic Vine, Black Widow appears in 3,105 issues.

Published:Caption:Photo:Alvin Johnson
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Marvel Cinematic Universe

Black Widow made it into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2010, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2.  

Cara's version reminds us of the look Black Widow had for Winter Soldier, Vol. 1: The Longest Winter. Nicole makes her own costumes and also repurposes materials and accessories from other characters she's portrayed.

For Cara, it's important to identify with the character she's cosplaying. She says "the women of Marvel definitely embody a lot of the characteristics that real women in our society have," and that helps her connect with them.

As a professional cosplayer, Cara travels around the country appearing at comics conventions, but she models for prints and calendars, or just to inspire other artists.

Published:Caption:Photo:Alvin Johnson
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Gamora

Cara dressed as Gamora, Thanos' daughter. He saved her after the Zen Whoberi population was exterminated by the Universal Church of Truth for refusing to convert to their religion.

Also known as the deadliest woman in the galaxy, Gamora joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the first installment of Guardians of the Galaxy. According to Comic Vine, she's been part of 732 issues.

Published:Caption:Photo:Alfred Trujillo
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Ms. Marvel

Roy Thomas and Archie Goodwin originally created Carol Danvers as a supporting character to Captain Marvel, also known as Mar-Vell. But Marvel felt the need to create a female superhero who represented the modern liberated women of the 1970s. 

By 1977, after she gained her superpowers thanks to the perfect synthesis of her human DNA with Mar-Vell's Kree DNA, Danvers had her very own solo issue written by Gerry Conway and drawn by John Buscema.

Published:Caption:Photo:Alvin Johnson
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More Ms. Marvel

Cara's version of Ms. Marvel evokes the costume of Ms. Marvel Vol. 2 #1 , which came out in 2006. Ms. Marvel took over the Captain Marvel name after Avengers vs. X-Men.

Carol Danvers has been in 3,430 issues.

Published:Caption:Photo:Alvin Johnson
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She-Hulk

Jennifer Walters is Bruce Banner's cousin. She turned green after Bruce gave her a blood transfusion using his own blood to save her life.

She-Hulk was created by Stan Lee and illustrated by John Buscema, and her origin story and first appearance are in the book The Savage She-Hulk #1.

She is been part of 2,558 issues according to Comic Vine.

Published:Caption:Photo:Alvin Johnson
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Wanda Maximoff

Wanda Marya Maximoff, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, is the Scarlet Witch and she has the power to alter probability and warp reality. We first met her in issue #4 of The X-Men titled The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

Scarlet Witch started as an evil character in Magneto's team but just a year later became a hero in the Avengers #16.

Published:Caption:Photo:Eric Fiallos
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Scarlet Witch

Wanda joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe during the film Avengers: Age of Ultron, where we also met her twin brother Quicksilver.

Cara shows off a comic-inspired Scarlet Witch with her traditional red bodysuit and cape, instead of the red leather coat we see on Elizabeth Olsen's version.

Published:Caption:Photo:Bald Pirate
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Black Cat

Cara's favorite Marvel female character is Black Cat (Felicia Hardy). The Cat's agility and stealth come from her past as a cat burglar, a family trade, but she can also give her enemies bad luck. 

According to Comic Vine, she's in 1,064 issues, but she hasn't made an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Cara's been fascinated by Felicia Hardy since she was a kid and read a lot of her comics. "She is always beautiful and larger than life and very exciting," she says.

It's hard for Cara to pick one of her own favorite cosplay creations characters because she feels like she's not good enough and is always working to overcome that attitude. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Alvin Johnson
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Felicia Hardy

Black Cat first appeared back in 1979 in The Amazing Spider-Man #194. She was created by the writer Marv Wolfman and illustrated by Keith Pollard.

She's an antihero who's been romantically involved with Spider-Man, but she's only interested in the superhero and not in Peter Parker. If you're curious about their love affair, this article sums things up.

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Elektra

Elektra Natchios was part of the Daredevil books created by Frank Miller. She first appeared in 1981 in Daredevil #168, but she was on the cover of The Comics Journal #58 that came out a few months before.

Here, Cara shows us a very traditional Elektra armed with her sai.

Published:Caption:Photo:Alvin Johnson
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Emma Frost

Emma Frost comes from a very wealthy family and has telepathic powers. She was created by Chris Claremont and artist/co-writer John Byrne.

She first showed up in Uncanny X-Men #129 (1980). 

Published:Caption:Photo:Alvin Johnson
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Spider Gwen

Cara got ahead of the curve and cosplayed as Spider Gwen a year before the character became popular. 

Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker's first love, made her first appearance in 1965 in The Amazing Spider-Man issue 31. Stacy was created by Stan Lee and Steven Ditko.

According to Comic Vine she shows up in 1,216 issues.

Published:Caption:Photo:Alvin Johnson
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Punisher

Here is Cara's gender-bend cosplay of Punisher, also known as Frank Castle.

Punisher first showed up The Amazing Spider-Man #129 and was created by Gerry Conway, artists John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru. But Stan Lee was the one that baptized him as the Punisher.

Published:Caption:Photo:Alvin Johnson
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