Bad Costumes For Major Super-Heroes
DC unveiled new looks for Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, with the general consensus being that they are not successful new looks. Some people like them, but there is not a single one that everyone can come to a consensus is a good costume. Well, everyone has already dissected these costumes so we decided to instead of jumping on the bandwagon and trashing these new looks, we’d look at some of the all-time worst costumes in comics. These are not in order, and are limited to one per character. Coincidentally, these are also only Marvel and DC, just because more history means more chances to have an embarrassing costume. They are also limited to costumes that stuck around for a little bit, which keeps a lot of Silver Age Batman costumes off the list.
Alan Scott/Green Lantern Mobility Armor: The most recent entry on this list. Paralyzed by the amount of willpower it took to control the Starheart, the malevolent force that provided the power for his ring and lantern. It had driven him insane and directed him to try and destroy the world by controlling many of his teammates. Afterwards, Alan Scott was paralyzed by a terrorist named Scythe and the willpower needed to control the Starheart prevented him from using his power to walk, until he used that power to create a suit of armor to give himself mobility. The faulty logic aside, the design of the armor is atrocious, and impractical, especially considering that a perfectly great suit of armor had already been designed by Alex Ross for Kingdom Come and used by Alan Scott until he was driven insane by the Starheart.
Electric Superman: In the 1990s, characters were getting redesigns all of the time. When Superman gets one it becomes a big deal, and with this one, he even got a new set of powers that were electrically based, depending upon who was writing the story he was appearing in. The worst part of this costume is that it simply doesn’t read as Superman and took away everything iconic about the character. Add to that the multiple lines directing your eye towards his crotch, and you have the makings of a really bad costume. Before being discarded, the character actually split into two beings, one red and one blue, doubling the atrocious nature of this costume.
NOTE: This is one of the few costumes on this list to get an action figure as part of the Kenner JLA line in the late 1990s.
Wonder Man (West Coast Avengers): In the 1980s, the West Coast Avengers got their own regular series, drawn by Al Milgrom who after a year, redesigned Wonder Man’s costume from a very well-designed red and black motif that returned and stuck around in one form or another until the present day. This version took the jet-belt he wore and converted it to a jet-pack that rendered sitting comfortably in a chair impossible and used the red/green color scheme of his original silver age costume to create a design that lacked any charm. Thankfully, this costume was only around for about a year, but did get immortalized in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, proving that even a great artist like José Luis García-López couldn’t make it look good.
Wonder Woman (bike shorts): There was something about the 1990s that made for bad costume design. Maybe it was the crashing market that made publishers desperate to draw new readers or the overriding desire to make comics more edgy and gitty to appeal to a perceived changing demographic. After killing Superman and crippling Batman, Wonder Woman was next with Diana losing the title to another Amazon named Artemis while Diana fought evile in a pair bike shorts and a bolero jacket, which remained open to reveal a black bra, meaning she had more revealed than when she wore a costume that was essentially wore a one piece bathing suit.
Daredevil (Ninja Armor): Another 1990s design that was meant to envoke the character’s Ninja style trainign, but almost immediately attention was drawn to the metal plate on the costume. The ambient noise from those plates theoretically getting in the way of the character’s power that makes up for his lack of sight, namely his enhanced hearing. Anyone who’s slept under a metal roof can also tell you that with enhanced hearing, in the rain, he can’t hear anything in that costume.
NOTE: This costume was also featured on an action figure in a 1994 repaint of Toy Biz’s Marvel Super Heroes line.
Hawkeye (Circus Costume): In 1972, Clint Barton discarded the Goliath identity he had assumed and returned to his original identity as Hawkeye. Instead of returning to his original costume, he donned a costume that featured an ever-so-stylish headband and bared more skin than a character should wear in Manhattan in the winter. Topping it off was a skirt. It can be called something else, but it looks like a mini-skirt. This costume lasted little more than a year, but affected the archer so badly that after getting rid of it he quit the Avengers for a time.
Thor (90’s midriff): Oh, the 1990s. Thor had always had long blonde hair but this costume, designed by Mike Deodato Jr. extends that hair to lengths measured in feet. It adds a chain to Mjolnir, because it was the 1990s and chains were cool, just look at Spawn. Thor got shoulder pads, like most heroes in the 1990s, crazy straps around his thighs that served no purpose and bared his midriff because why not? Thankfully, shortly after this costume was fully adopted, Thor vanished battling Onslaught and when he returned, Marvel forgot all about it.
Cosmic Boy (70’s costume): When people think of some of the most embarrassing moments for the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Mike Grell era gets referred to as the “Naked Legion” partly because of this outfit for Cosmic Boy which defied logic for how it stayed on. It bares just way too much skin and a lack of reason other than taking away everything pink on his older costume and not replacing it with anything else seems to have been the aesthetic. It stuck around a lot longer than it probably should have, but given that he was on a team with over 20 other characters, the various costume redesigns apparently overlooked him until Keith Giffen became the regular artist on the book.
Spider-Man/Scarlet Spider: One of the low points for Spider-Man has to be the Clone Saga, which saw a cloned Peter Parker start adventuring under the name of the Scarlet Spider, before taking over as Spider-Man in a much better designed costume than this. This version was meant to have been fashioned by the character using a tattered sweatshirt and bulkier web shooters that were now visible on the outside of the costume. While the character did eventually adopt a much better costume, this one still remains a black mark on the legacy of one of comics’ most popular characters ever,
Invisible Woman (cheesecake window costume): Again with the 1990s, which leads me to remind you of George Santayana’s famous quote, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Female characters in the 1990s were almost universally treated as cheesecake, and one of the strongest female characters, the Invisible Woman started baring a lot more skin, including cut-outs to expose her navel and a cleavage window shaped like a four. Impractical bands around her upper arms and thighs make for a baffling and inexplicable design. It’s just a case of taking a character that spent the 1980s growing out of a horrible stereotype and shoehorning her into another one. A bad costume is one thing, but a bad costume that damages a character’s reputation is another.
I’m certain that some of the choices may have people that disagree with them, but if you do, please explain why in the comments. In the near future we will have an article on the best costumes in comics, and it will probably be in two parts, because we love to focus on the good rather than the bad.