From Good to Bad: The 5 Worst Costume Changes in the History of Comics

Comic books have been around for over 80 years—plenty of time for some horrible superhero costume changes. Batman (thankfully) has kept his classic look, with mild variations over the years, but not everyone else is as lucky. Iron Man, Superman, Sub-Mariner, and Wonder Woman have made some horrible fashion decisions over the years. Let’s take a look at some of the fashion faux pas, the reasoning behind them, and how quickly the superhero (or heroine) ditched their new rags.

Iron Man and the Iron Patriot

One can look at this wardrobe change in two different ways: Is it  an over the top-paint job for Iron Man or is it a horrible costume change for the Green Goblin? Norman Osborn, the former Green Goblin, is the person who is actually inside this suit that is a confiscated copy of Iron Man’s armor adorned with a new paint job. The Iron Patriot is slated for an appearance in next Summer’s Iron Man 3, so get used to this look.

Namor: The Sub-mariner Who Puts on a Black (Leather?) Vest and Pants

Namor is one of Marvel’s first creations, a half-Atlantean, half-human mutant who is currently a member of the X-Men. He’s also King of Atlantis and commands all the fishes in the sea. Through most of the his long history (he made his first appearance 1939’s Marvel Comics #1), Namor wore only a pair of green, scaled underwear trimmed with gold. A little skimpy and a little odd, but it works for a guy who spends most of his life underwater.

Over three decades later in Sub-Mariner #67, the brains at Marvel thought it would be a good idea to outfit the King of Atlantis in a black (leather?) vest and pants and expandable gold wings that ran from the sides of his vest to his underarms. The design gets an “A” for effort, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. While a variation of this costume is sometimes used today, Namor is most often seen walking around in the Marvel Universe topless and in a pair of green tighties.

When Wonder Woman Ditched Her Costume

The late 1960s and early 1970s were a strange time for comics. In an effort to “shake up” the view of Wonder Woman and in hopes of making her appeal to a wider female audience, DC Comics trashed her bizarrely garish normal look. I mean, if Superman doesn’t dress like that, why should Wonder Woman?

DC replaced the old costume with a rotating set of late 1960s hipster fashion in Wonder Woman #178. Wonder Woman also quit using her powers for a time, learning martial arts and infiltrating the real world as her alter-ego Diana Prince. This costume change didn’t last long, with DC Comics going back to the old look four years later in Wonder Woman #204.

Electric Superman

One of the classic, simple designs in the world of comics, a look that has been immediately recognizable over the past eight decades. In a stunt designed to sell comic books, DC Comics turned Superman into pure of electricity in the mid-1990s. Being made of electricity, Superman “needed” a new costume, something to contain all of that stray energy. I don’t even really want to talk about this anymore as I lived through it, and it was pain enough. Needless to say, the costume change didn’t stick, and Superman quickly regained his old costume and power set sometime soon.

Aunt May Becomes Golden Oldie

Spider-Man is known for a number of ridiculous costumes. It is hard to pick one among Iron Spider, Clone Saga uniform, and Cosmic Spider-Man. Aunt May, however, did a costume change in one issue of Marvel Team-Up, where she appeared as the Herald of Galactus, Golden Oldie.

Being the Herald of Galactus is normally the Silver Surfer’s job, but in this issue, Aunt May ditched her elderly garb for a skintight covering of metallic gold. Thankfully, for our eyes, this costume change didn’t last, with Aunt May losing her powers and going to die every year or two for the next several decades in the Marvel Universe.

Image Sources: cboproductions, comicmegastore, comicvine, marvelmasterworks, wikia, wikipedia

Keith Veronese has a Ph.D. in chemistry and regularly writes for Gawker Media's science site, io9. His worked has appeared on the Gawker Media sites Lifehacker, Deadspin, Kotaku, and Jezebel in addition to Paste Magazine, AMOG, So Jones, Hip Hop Press, and FormatMag. Keith also has a non-fiction book in the works, Plugged In: Comic Book Professionals Working in the Video Game Industry, which will be released by TwoMorrows Publishing later this year.

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