You would think it’d be easy for a superhero to look good. Throw together a cape, some boots, a mask and a snazzy chest emblem and you’re in business, right? Not so fast — as some unfortunate fashion choices over the years have shown, it can be a lot trickier than it appears. Come with me now as we stroll through the Super-Costume Hall of Shame, and take a look at some of the most hideous spandex atrocities to ever grace the printed page.
WONDER MAN: It’s a bad sign when even your best costume isn’t that good. And that one’s just a sleeveless t-shirt… However, Simon Williams had had some truly horrific costumes, including his first one, a green and red Christmasy number complete with little fleur-de-lis flourishes around the torso.
That’s what happens when you let Nazi war criminals dress you, I guess. Much later, Simon decided his new movie-star life (in the pages of WEST COAST AVENGERS) necessitated a new, flashier suit, and came back with this ensemble, which looks kinda like a box of Crayolas threw up.
After a steady stream of complaints, Simon was soon back to the muscle shirt.
THE LISTENER: In an attempt to make the 1940s aviator characters the Blackhawks more up-to-date and popular, DC Comics converted them to superheroes in the late ’60s, saddling them with some of the worst superhero names and costumes ever thought up. Of these new super-chumps, by far the worst was poor Chuck, who was designated the teams surveillance expert entitled “the Listener,” and given what looked like a set of fuzzy jammies with pink ears printed on them.
Man, how do you even show up for the team meetings looking like that? Thankfully, this only lasted less than a year.
He’s a big chicken. ‘Nuff said.
ANGAR THE SCREAMER: I suppose there must be some segment of the population that finds hippies intimidating, but personally, I never saw Angar here as a really scary villain.
If you want to be technical, you probably can’t even really call this a costume, since he probably would wear the same thing to run down to the market to pick up a six-pack and some lozenges (all that screaming must play havoc with your throat). This relatively obscure DAREDEVIL villain was killed off a few years ago, a now-permanent fashion victim.
SCARLET SPIDER: It’s hard to look tough when you’re wearing a hoodie. Why Peter Parker’s clone felt a blue hooded sweatshirt would be the best way to go for his new look is beyond me.
The costume also suffered from the unfortunate 1990s costumed trend of including buttoned pouches on every costume. And at least Spidey has things to carry around, web-fluid and like that. What was Cyclops carrying around in all those pockets in the ’90s? Triscuits?
HOURMAN II: When the original Hourman was thought lost in limbo with the rest of the Justice Society in the late ’80s, Rex Tyler’s son did the honorable thing and decided to carry on in his father’s place as the new Hourman.
Unfortunately, he decided to put aside his father’s costume and instead come up with his own design, resulting in this purple-and-red monstrosity, with a giant clock face and enormous bootflaps. It wasn’t too long before wiser heads prevailed and Rick Tyler was sporting his father’s old Hourman uniform. Good call, Rick.
EARTH-2 ROBIN: As good as the grown-up Earth-2 Robin’s final costume was, his first version was just as awful.
Combining the worst elements of both the Batman and Robin costumes, Dick Grayson was sporting gray tights and blue gloves and boots, with a yellow cape with a scalloped collar, a domino mask and terrible “R” logo superimposed over the original Bat-emblem. It looked like Alfred got both costumes mixed up in the wash.
DAREDEVIL: The other trend to strike superhero costumes in the 1990s was armor and shoulder pads, and naturally, when you’re an acrobat leaping around highrises from a thin wire, you want to be wearing as much bulky armor as possible, which was why Daredevil’s ’90s costume change made so much sense. Oh, wait. Never mind.
Adding insult to injury, not only was DD wearing an armored suit, he was wearing a really ugly armored suit. It’s admittedly an old joke, but this really did look like a costume that had been put together by a blind man…
SUB-MARINER: Anybody who thinks that anyone can look good in black leather only needs to look at Prince Namor’s 1970s getup.
The vest-with-no-shirt look is always questionable, and giant bat-wings just confuse the issue, quite frankly. Add in cut-out ankle flaps to let Namor’s little foot wings stick out, and, well, this just isn’t a good look for anyone.
SUPERMAN: Ah yes, the “electric Superman” era. A short-lived sales gimmick that involved Superman’s powers changing to a purely energy-based version, this was just bad.
White and light blue just don’t look assertive or powerful, and the new “electrified” s-shield lacked any strength. And the crownless headpiece lacked both function and style. Just a bad look all the way around. You know you’ve made a bad costume choice when SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE says you look like a “gay ice dancer.” Who says there’s no such thing as bad publicity?
If we are going to talk Wonder Man, you have to include that George Perez designed suit, from the lead-in to the Ultron story (can’t remember the exact issue number, but Shooter was the writer and it was pre-Korvac). That was ugly. The Hourman wasn’t so bad, design wise, but the color choice was definitely questionable. Meanwhile, what about Captain Ultra? That was the king of ugly.