Monday, May 2, 2011

The Many Costumes of Spider-Man

The first comic book I ever owned and followed every month was Spider-Man. Starting with "Essential Amazing Spider-Man Volume 5" I have been reliving those great childhood moments all over again. While I miss the color, I can't complain about the price Marvel is charging for these multi-issue trips down memory lane.

Looking back on the wall-crawler's long and sometimes-tumultuous career, he's had a lot of costumes! Some were good moves, while others might have stumbled a bit.

Here are some of the more memorable ones:

The Original

This blue and red beauty is the one that started it all and still remains pretty much the same today. There is something iconic in the suit, and while I find it impossible to believe a high school kid could have possibly sewn something so intricate, I gladly suspend my disbelief to enjoy this costume.

The movie version kept surprisingly close to this and I appreciated that. While the X-Men ran around in black leather, Spidey got to stay in costume (and made them oodles of money for doing so).

Say what you will about the stories he's been involved in over the years, this suit is the best.

The Black Suit

I still vividly remember the day I picked up this issue from the comic book shop and sat in stunned silence. They had taken my favorite hero of all time and robbed him of not just his costume, but even the basic colors I had grown to love!

Of course, this suit had a TON of cool new abilities and opened the door for some pretty nice things. Eventually this suit would even turn out to be a bad guy itself and lead to some amazing drama before becoming Venom. Even today this suit is still a recurring part of Spidey's storylines. The "Back in Black" story arc was a great return to form for the character with the dark costume reflecting the darker change Peter himself was going through with Aunt May's injury.

The Captain Universe Suit

I love the Captain Universe costume by itself, so seeing Spidey wear it for a while was a treat. At first he just discovered an incredible boost in his powers with no explanation, but later on it was discovered that he had been given the Captain Universe power to defend Earth against an upcoming threat (hint: purple world eater).

On a side note, I would love to see Captain Universe show up again as a regular character in a comic book. For a while he was part of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but the suit and power have been AWOL lately.

The Iron Spidey

I can't throw this in as one of my favorites, but I have to give it a place here.

During the Civil War storyline Spidey's suit went through quite the upgrade by Tony Stark. The addition of actual spider legs was just the beginning of the weirdness. The subtle changes to the costumes colors to more closely resemble Iron Man didn't help things much.

I know there are very vocal folks on the internet who think this costume is a classic that deserves a comeback, but I can't say I'm one of them.

The Future Foundation Suit

With the death of Johnny Storm, the remaining members of the Fantastic Four decided to ditch the blue and white look for something a little more modern. Spider-Man--perhaps the most standard and recognizable hero in the Marvel Universe--steps in to take Johnny's place on this new team and they give him a new costume (so they can look like a team).

If there was ever anyone who needed to develop a backbone and say no when folks keep tossing him a new suit, it's Peter Parker. Unfortunately we're treated to this little black and white number. It does have a color-changing ability that is convenient, so now they can play with the design from time to time until they find something that works.

The New Armor Suit

Ignoring the one-shot armor suit that showed up in Web of Spider-Man #100, the newest costume change for Spider-Man involves a bulletproof suit that begs the question: "50 years in comics and it took you this long to think 'bulletproof'?"

Unlike the cumbersome earlier version, this armor seems to let him keep the agility he's known for while still being able to take a bigger hit than the old days. It seems like a cross between the old black costume, the Iron Spidey suit, and Ronin.

Will it last more than a dozen issues? Only time will tell. It will be interesting to see how they sell putting him back in threads after this though.

Honorable Mentions:

The Scarlet Spider

I'm going to look at the two suits Ben Reilly wore next. While I know he wasn't technically Peter Parker, he did run as Spider-Man for a bit and this Scarlet Spider costume deserves mention.

This suit remained faithful to the original concept of Spidey's costume while tweaking things a little. Of course, the blue vest is a dead giveaway that this was a creation of the 90's. Then again, during this same time X-Force was running around with vests and every new hero seemed to be considering it so we'll forgive the fault.

Ben didn't stay in this costume forever. When it was discovered (for a while anyway) that Ben was the original while Peter was the clone, he moved into a costume better suited to the role.

Ben Reilly Spider-Man

This one was a return to form. The writers had created this Clone Sage mess that left the comic book world scratching its head. In putting Ben forward as the new "real" Spider-Man they wanted to give him a look all his own while still giving a nod to the original.

Hey, at least this suit kept to the red and blue color scheme. I can't complain about this one. I thought the half-boots were a pretty cool idea, though the web shooters reminded me a bit of the old 70's TV series version of the suit.

There's even an action figure of this one out there if you're a fan.

Spider-Man 2099

Hands down my favorite Spider-Man costume, this one ends our list with a bang.

When Marvel introduced their 2099 line in the 90's, the only two titles I followed were this one and Punisher 2099. This character's origin was original enough to make him different, but similar enough to make him familiar. After the 2099's entire lineup cancellation, he dropped off the radar for years.

Spidey 2099 was last seen as a member of the Exiles (during the heyday of the title). He now resides in some alternate universe with his own Mary Jane living happily ever after. A younger version showed up in the TimeStorm 2099 miniseries, but I'm not sure it's in the same continuity


Mark G said...

Ahh ... what I find most interesting is that he used one suit for the better part of 20 years, switch it up with the black costume and then in the past 5 years, they've unveiled a new suit every year it seems. The armor suit really doesn't do it for me for the reason you mentioned: it took Peter this long to think "bulletproof?" Just seems to be lacking in creativity to me.

César Hernández-Meraz said...

The Captain Universe powers were granted him to battle Loki's Tri-sentinel, not Galactus.

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