Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: The Best Superhero Costumes

November 4, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Wolverine Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

A couple of weeks ago we discussed Scariest Comic Book Moments Here’s what some of you had to say:

WlNBACK “When a big dog knocked down Calvin and stole Hobbes.”

D2Kvirus: “The panel in The Walking Dead #83 where you see Carl missing a chunk of his face after it was taken off with an errant bullet as as horrifying as it was pure “Holy shit…””

StinkFinger: “I alluded to it in last weeks column. Since we’re doing specific scenes, here goes…

Death Of The Family. Joker at his most psychotic. Batman is making his way through Arkham. It’s absolute madness. All kinds of terrible things happening.

And then he steps into a long, dark hallway. At the end, he sees a light. It’s getting closer. What is it??

It’s a horse. On fire. Completely engulfed in flames, galloping towards him at full speed.


disqus_cGBSHJQv4v: “What the Joke did to Barbara, shooting her point blank, stripping her and taking pictures of her bleeding naked body turning her into a paraplegic and then having these crazed midgets strip the Commissioner put a dog collar and other bondage gear on him, whip him, force him into a roller coaster and go through a tunnel where the Joker put up giant sized enlargements of his daughter’s plight in an attempt to break him.

The Joker blackmailing Jason’s mother, then after she hands Jason over, he beats the snot out of Jason with a crowbar while she watches and then turns on her, leaving them locked on a warehouse with a bomb. And briefly getting diplomatic immunity as an ambassador for Qurac.”

Richard C: “– “You know this is the private chapel of the Grenier Family?” –”

mongolianch0p: “all of joker (2008) was far scarier than killing joke”

El Atomico: “Broken record, I know, but Killing Joke, especially the scene you mentioned.”

Excollector: “Hellblazer with the first sight of Astra haunting John was pretty scary. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House had a scene Batman and Gordon believing that the Joker had just driven a pencil into a nurse’s eye that was tremendously scary.”

Tayo Jones: “Issue 25 of Swamp Thing. The first appearance of the Monkey King and what a horrifying appearance it was. When I first saw that monster, I was terrified and disturbed.”

Benjamin Kellog: “The first reveal of Hydra Cap in the days leading to “Secret Empire.” The concept itself isn’t unheard of in Marvel history, but the way it was executed here, not to mention the notion that a bunch of people all the way up the corporate ladder approved it to be published in this day and age without fully considering the consequences of such an action, might be an indicator of just how morally corrupt things could be behind the scenes. Thank goodness it turned out to be an “imposter,” but it still seems, to me, a grossly irresponsible concept to try and market. On a related note, anyone remember “Alt Hero” becoming the #1 download on Comixology for a hot minute? I remember hearing about the character on NPR and being absolutely horrified that that was one of the biggest things on the market at the time. Doesn’t seem like much has been done with the character since that time, I wonder what happened…”

Solomon Grundy: “Just a Pilgrim – Garden of Eden – scene where a dog, after the bad guy is shot and KO’d, starts eating his private parts. I mean the entire Just a Pilgrim series is a giant scary and odd comic, with Garth Ennis trying his best to shock and gross everyone out.

Jason Todd being beaten to death freaked me out when I was young, as did a a comic strip in the paper that was like 5 straight days or so around Halloween in the late 80’s. It was Garfield of all things, but I was 13 at the time and it was pretty freaky…..Quick internet search says it was called Garfield: Alone”

So many great comments! Big thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts!

This week we discuss…

The Best Superhero Costumes
This was supposed to run last week to coincide with Halloween but circumstances didn’t allow me to post it. Still, if you want to send me any pics of you in a superhero costume, I just might post them here.

In thinking about what makes a great superhero costume, you have to take in a few factors. First, it should be able to tell you who the hero is right away. I’ve always been a fan of simple designs. Take a look at the most iconic costumes and they all have that in common. That’s not to say complicated uniforms are trash but, especially in comics, how complex costumes come off is dependent on the artist drawing them. Some artists love the details while others will cheat here and there to make their job easier.

Does the costume inspire or make you cringe? Does the color structure work? Too many colors can make it ridiculous and contrasting colors can hurt the eyes. Is it functional? You have to think about the movie aspect as well these days. How will it look in theaters and on TV screens?

Every superhero costume has gone through evolution. Some better than others and many times we realize that you shouldn’t mess with a good thing. My personal favorites don’t quite belong in the “Best” category but it’s my column so I’m throwing them out there.

Let’s get it out of the way at the start, Squirrel Girl has the most fun costume. Done.

My personal favorite? Doctor Fate. The classic blue and gold along with a sleek helmet drew me to Fate as a kid. His popularity has been up-and-down over the years, thanks to uneven writing and never really getting center stage in big stories but his costume has kept him in contention. He even looked good on Smallville.

If I had to say a really great costume that’s highly underrated, I’d go with the original Deathlok. A soldier zombie cyborg? How is he not more popular? His look works with action AND with horror when you look at it. 

When it comes to basic, one color costumes that work, I like Black Bolt, Moon Knight, Black Widow, and Scarlet Witch. Each cool in their own way.

Others just outside the winner circle are Green Lantern, Ms. Marvel, and Rorschach. Rorschach’s has been a favorite of mine for a while. It ties in well with his name and mood of the character.

While Thor’s costume doesn’t get the love it should, it conveys his godly status and warrior spirit. Another one that doesn’t get love is Spider-Woman. While her costume pays homage to Spider-Man, the differences make it all her own.

I put Captain Marvel and Captain America in the same category. While Captain America has the iconic status on lock, they both use a basic color scheme that gives it a functional, military feel that let’s readers (and supervillains) know what they are getting into.

While Invincible has ended and doesn’t have the years the others do, his costume checks every box on the greatest list. Some may call it retro but it’s one of the best in the business.

Wolverine might have had a number of costume changes over the years, there’s one thing that ties them together: those claws. Not many characters could pull off the brown and yellow but Wolverine made it work and come off as a badass.

Another one who’s had plenty of costumes is Iron Man. Some better than others, no matter what armor he wore, you knew you were fighting Iron Man. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Flash. Simple and effective. Complex and effective? I’d go with Spawn.

When it comes to the cream of the crop, the last three names usually come down to Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. The reason is simple. Icons. Their lasting popularity and design have rightfully earned them their place in the Superhero Costume Hall of Fame. But who’s the best to you?

Comment below! I’m guessing I’ll get at least one Power Girl comment. 

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!