Recently, DC Comics announced they would be “relaunching” their entire line of comics, with new number ones. Along with these new number ones, will be a line-wide redesign for every character. Many of these redesigns have already been criticized, so instead of hating on a bunch of costumes from comic books that haven’t even been published yet, I will be taking a stroll down memory lane, in the hopes of digging up redesigns that should never be forgotten. Join me, will you?

#10 – The Red Hood

Nothing, not even death, is sacred in comics. When Jason Todd was brought back as the gun totting killer, the Red Hood, his costume was simple: A domino mask, leather jacket, and the occasional “Jelly Bean” helmet. But when Grant Morrison had him appear in his second arc of Batman & Robin, the Red Hood sported a Red Pill Head, a high collared cape, and a white jumpsuit with a red skull. To put it simply, it was too complicated, and though it harkens back to previous “Red Hood’s”, it was unnecessary.

#9 – Black Canary

Dinah Lance followed in her mother’s footsteps, and became Black Canary. Her wardrobe consisted of a skin tight black one piece, fishnet stockings, and jacket, very respectable when it comes to being a female costumed adventurer. But during her tenure as a member of Justice League International, she discarded her classic ensemble in favor of a frumpy black and blue costume, with a big gaudy bird motif on the upper torso, and the requisite 1980’s headband. Thankfully, common sense eventually prevailed, and this redesign was burned like the trash it was.

#8 – Aquaman (DC Comics,

After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Aquaman’s origin, as well as the dynamic with Ocean Master, his half brother, was expanded upon. But what this series also introduced was the deep blue sea camo suit, which in theory makes sense. Really, why would you wear a scaly orange shirt, and a pair of bright green pants? Logic would dictate you’d want to blend in with your surroundings, but this is a comic book about the King of Atlantis who can communicate with fish. Logic shouldn’t enter into the equation.

#7 – U.S. Agent

John Walker took the mantle of U.S. Agent, and wore a variation of the costume worn by Steve Rogers when he was going under the alias, “The Captain”. The costume was clearly heavily inspired by that of Captain America’s, but when the writers had John Walker throw his classic U.S. Agent costume, and shield into the Hudson River, that was the beginning of the pain. When U.S. Agent joined Force Works, he wore a radically different costume, and used a energy shield. After a few more failed deviations, U.S. Agent finally returned to his classic togs.

#6 – Saturn Girl

Imra Ardeen is a telepath from Titan, a moon of Saturn, and one of the founding members of the Legion of Super-Heroes. She is a strong, self sacrificing, and heroic member of the Legion, but that doesn’t prevent her from being dressed like a cage dancer with thigh high purple boots, purple evening gown gloves, and a matching barely-there one piece bathing suit. All in all, it was a poor attempt to make Saturn Girl sexy, and in the process brought her down a few rungs in respectability.

#5 – Wonder Woman

In 1994, Mike Deodato Jr. was illustrating everyone’s favorite Amazon warrior, and soon,  something began to happen: Diana’s ass began to hang out. Thongs! Thongs everywhere! It’s the Dark Age, I tells ya! By 1995 Artemis had deposed Diana as Wonder Woman, and Diana began to wear a biker outfit, designed by Brian Bolland, and it looks like it was done so in a hurry. Though Diana was spared the indignity of having the stars and stripes riding up her crack thanks to Bolland’s redesign, her getup was not the iconic and comparably noble attire she was accustomed to.

#4 – Invisible Woman

By the 1990’s, Susan Storm had been bottling up her emotions way too long, and with the prodding of Psycho-Man, “Malice”, her hidden sadistic side, was set free. Susan had to battle her inner demon, and she eventually absorbed it. Unfortunately, this caused the “Malice” personality to influence Susan in such ways as to make her wear a glorified bathing suit, with a cut out “4” giving the fanboys a convenient boob window. Eventually this “skanky” side of Susan was exorcised, thanks to her time hopping son Franklin and Susan would eventually learn how to rationally deal with her emotions.

#3 – Vampirella

The bathing-suit-wearing, blood-drinking vixen from the Planet Draculon played hostess, and eventually leading lady in her own stories starting in the early 70’s. But by the year 2000, Manga influences were able to taint even a All-American bloodsucker like Vampirella. Only in the “Year 2000” could you give Vampirella, sorry, Vampi, more clothes, and have her turn out looking like more of a tramp.

#2 – Superman

Originally a “Imaginary Story” from 35 years prior, the Superman Red/Superman Blue tale was revisited and re-imagined in the mid-90s. But unlike the original story, this was a prolonged mess with arcing lightning to boot. The costume betrayed all that was iconic about the Man of Steel, and made him more like the Man of Currents. Even the resolution to the Electric Superman arc was convoluted, with Supes saying his unification was a reward, but then later saying it was due to the electromagnetic energies dispersing. Just be glad it’s all over.

#1 – Batman

After Bane broke Batman’s back, Jean-Paul Valley a.k.a. Azrael, took up the mantle of Batman while Bruce recovered. But Jean-Paul wasn’t content with Batman’s costume. He had to have bladed wings, a flame thrower, tons of armor, and other gadgets that would put him on the same level as War Machine. With this modification, “Azbats” was born, and so was his memorable (in all the wrong ways) costume. Designed by a pre-Marvel Joe Quesada, and first appearing in Batman #500, “Azbats” is one of those designs that is justifiably a relic of its time period. It still lives on in infamy as one of the worst costume designs, nearly 20 years later.


About Author

It is hard being a King, especially when your first name is Larry. Well, not really. In Larry’s Kingdom the re-imagining “Battlestar Galactica” is superior, “The Wire” is the greatest crime show ever, and “ROM, Spaceknight” is the hero of the realm.


  1. #10 – I don’t mean to contradict you, sir, but the Quitely Red Hood is a solid improvement because it IS a costume. The leather jacket, mask and t-shirt ensemble made Jason look like a refugee from Lightning Comics circa 1993…

    #9 – The jumpsuited Canary look is pretty awesome, honestly. It’s just not Black Canary. The bird motif, big corsair boots and headband all work together, it’s a nice color contrast, and it looked good in action. Check out any time that it’s drawn by Kevin Maguire and tell me I’m wrong… :)

    #8 – Improved costumes shouldn’t count.

    #7 – Force Works never happened.

    #6 – If you think THAT’S an innuendo-laden suit, look at what Cosmic Boy was wearing at the same time. It was the future of the 70’s, things were different then.

    #4 – It’s like June Cleaver in dominatrix garb. You either don’t want to see that, or you want to see it for all the wrong reasons.

    #3 – Flesh colored patches at the pubic bone are always a bad idea…

    • #10 – No problem.
      #9 – It’s hard for Kevin Maguire to do wrong, if this was anyone else besides Dinah, all would be okay. But you are right, it’s not Black Canary.
      #7 – Okay then. Force Works what?

    • I absolutely love the Disco Canary costume. I was kind of hoping they’d bring it back in the relaunch, just for fun.

      • Personal continuity, Force works did happen. It is one of the reasons that Herr Stark became such a tool for 20 years. He was trying to make up for Force Works.

        • ~wyntermute~ on

          I agree with Matthew’s assessments of Nos. 10 & 9, at which point I just realized I should stop reading because our (Larry & Me) opinions of ‘good costuming’ differs significantly. :D So i did, and cannot speak to nos. 7 though 1. :D But lists like these are breeding grounds for disagreement anyway… B-)

    • Storm’s leather punk outfit from the late 80s really ought to be on this list. A bad joke carried way too far, completely out of character and a lame attempt to milk a fashion statement – the outsized mohawk – that had come & gone almost ten years earlier. Stupid, stupid, stupid and made me almost stop reading the series.

  2. I totally disagree about number 8. That was a great costume redesign, in fact during Peter Davids run people were constantly asking for that costume to return

    I dont think number 7 was bad. The art was bad, but the costume was pretty decent. It removed the poor mans Captain America look, and was miles ahead of the Judge Dread look he would sport later.

    Number 1…Azbats was overly complicated, but I still like it for some reason. I admit thats purely personal though, and wont argue its placement on this list

    • Although the Azbat costume is indeed horrible, Quesada’s original Asrael costume was complicated but well-put together. Strange how the same talented creator could go from something impressive to that monstrosity.

      • To be fair, the evolution of Azbat’s costume makes sense as Jean-Paul became increasingly unstable. The original design was cool (for what and when it was) and while I hated the final incarnation of that suit, it fit with what was happening in the story.

        I agree with you, Young–the costume is horrible but well conceived.

  3. have you noticed that 7 out of 10 are DC characters (thats 70% Maths fans!) – bodes well for this “relaunch” doesn’t it….

    Have to say though, I thought the Azbat costume was F’ing Awesome at the time!!
    (but i was 12 years old!)

    • have you noticed that 7 out of 10 are DC characters (thats 70% Maths fans!) – bodes well for this “relaunch” doesn’t it….

      I think that might be more of writer’s preference. Remember armored Spider-Man? Juggernaut’s gold and blue armor? Teen Iron Man? Captain America’s battle-armor? Anything Jean Grey has ever worn that isn’t a green minidress?

      How about Betty Jo Bialoski???

  4. Near the top of my list is Kyle Rayner’s original Green Lantern costume. Not the one he copied from Hal, but the one with the big, clunky mask and the power fist glove things.

    On a completely different note, I’m hoping that the new guardians have costumes that play off of the Brightest Day stuff. I’ve had enough of the black+lantern color=costume; it’s getting too emo for me. Think of white suits with colored lanterns, accents, rings (or staves for indigo), etc. Or it could be the other way around, I don’t really care.

  5. I wish DC could stick to a great Wonder Woman. WW is just like Superman. An alien to this world of man or Earth. Why can this not continue? She is a great female warrior in a man’s world that is difficult to understand. Great stories could come from this but for some reason DC has tried to modernize her in some ways that dont make sense. Use what you got without throwing the baby out with the bath water. Yeah the thongs with WW just never made sense. I dont think she would be very comfortable with it. She would probably go naked or put on a cod piece.

  6. Aquaman’s costume really WAS an improvement, though I do feel sorry for anyone who has to draw it (and Tempest’s costume a bit later). And I enjoy the simplified version of it that Hercules, er Aquaman’s son on Brave And The Bold wears.

    • yep – Jean-Paul Valley wore the original suit for the first few issues after he took over, then added the claws, then a few issues later he brought out the full armour suit to take down bane…

  7. While I didn’t like Wonder Woman’s costume change for Wonder Woman, it would have been an okay costume for another WW related character. Not anyone in particular, but if they ever decided to expand the WW family. Comparably it isn’t much skimpier (if at all) than the main costume or anything, but it just didn’t really “feel” like proper WW to me.

  8. brainypirate on

    So glad I’m not the only one who prefers the Aquaman camo suit!

    And I agree with Matthew about Saturn Girl’s suit in the context of Cosmic Boy–and also Shadow Lass, Dawnstar, Tyroc and even Colossal Boy (remember when he had bare legs?). I admit that the latex bikini didn’t really capture her personality, but I’m not sure I’ve liked any other SG costume better.

  9. I think the original Nightwing costume should be on this list. It may not be a redesign for Nightwing, but it is for Dick Greyson (Robin to Nightwing), and by god was that first costume hideous.

    • I think the original Nightwing costume should be on this list. It may not be a redesign for Nightwing, but it is for Dick Greyson (Robin to Nightwing), and by god was that first costume hideous.

      Mileage varies on that one, as I found it to be reallly awesome when drawn by Perez (same with Jericho, actually) and less so when drawn by others. Since most of it’s existence was drawn by (I think) Jose Garcia-Lopez and Tom Grummett, people have negative associations that weren’t there in the original design but creeped in as different art styles led it off-model.

      • I think Perez was the only one who really made the Elvis collar work.

        And for all those who dislike the design of the original, remember that the guy went from speedos and booties The Bat forced him to wear for all those years for his own secret reasons that we dare not ask him about.


  10. #9 actually happened in Detective Comics, pre-Crisis. And it doesn’t belong in a list such as these, despite its unexplainable unpopularity. It was a great, beautiful, sensible costume.

    #8 was also fine and I wish it had been kept for a while at least.

    #7 reminds one of USAgent’s existence, unfortunately.

  11. I have a confession. It’s truly horrible but… I actually LIKED the “Electric Superman” look, especially the way they drew him and portrayed his powers in the JLA during the story-line that introduced Zauriel. I was weak! I am SORRY! So…very…sorry! (sob!)

  12. Dave Norwood on

    The thing with #1: Didn’t Denny O’Neil say at one point that is that the AzBat Suit was intentionally designed to be a horrid combination of everything bad about the “grim and gritty” nineties super-heroes. Bruce Wayne basically represented the passing days of noble “Silver Age”-style super-heroes where Azrael represents the ultra-violent, armor, blades, and pouches “heroes” of the “Image Age.”

    So the question is, can you call it a “Bad” costume if was intentionally created to look bad?

    • The thing with #1: Didn’t Denny O’Neil say at one point that is that the AzBat Suit was intentionally designed to be a horrid combination of everything bad about the “grim and gritty” nineties super-heroes.

      Judges Ruling: Intentionally sucking is still sucking.

  13. crazyangel93 on

    hey now some of us ladies wouldn’t mind sharing our assets with the world after all, whilst the bad guys (and readers) are looking at our behinds and busts we take our time in kick evil’s ugly ass! but yeah i do agree with sometimes dudes can make us look too trampish.

  14. #6 – wrong-oh! That sexy suit was awesome, and tell Matt Peterson that Cosmic Boy’s suit was just fine by me, too… Especially with those sideburns! The really bad legion costume re-designs were done by Gary Frank!!! All those stupid “L”‘s everywhere, and Dawnstar looked ridiculous! Where’s Mike Grell when you really need him??? I’m bringing sexyback!

    • brainypirate on

      At least Franks got rid of the briefs-and-tights look. I much prefer the jackets-and-pants template he used….

    • #6 – wrong-oh! That sexy suit was awesome, and tell Matt Peterson that Cosmic Boy’s suit was just fine by me, too…

      I don’t dislike Saturn Girl’s pinkini or Cosmic Boy’s future-corset. It’s the future, fashions are clearly different. I just felt the need to point out that her costume was one of the least naked of the LSH’s nakedest period.

  15. The 90’s was a rough time for superhero costumes. Azrael’s Batman uniform reminds me of the time when everyone thought overdesigned armor meant a better hero. The Invisible woman looks like she’s about to do a couple of striptease performances (for charity, of course). US Agent? Is the piece of cloth on his nose supposed to expand over his face and act as a rebreather for underwater missions? I feel so confused.

  16. Was I high, or did I not see Daredevil on this list? The armored Daredevil costume broke my hero and my heart. I loved Daredevil through all of the horrible Stiltman stories and through the great Miller works, but when Marvel got all crazy in the 90’s and put armor on a man without fear, I was afraid…..that Daredevil turned into a wuss.

  17. What about Magneto’s Giant “M” costume with the separate purple gloves? Or what about the Zebra Batman costume? Also, for real, Azazel’s outfit in the new X-Men: First Class movie, he looks like a lounge singer.

  18. Is Azeazel actually a character from the comics!? I just assumed he was a ‘evil twin’ rip-off of nightcrawler made up for the movie!!

    • As Larry said, he’s Nightcrawler’s father and Mystique is his mother. Makes sense if you look at him. Although, reading Azazel’s basic description on wikipedia, he sounds way more awesome than he appeared in the movie. He should have been in charge not a lackey, at least the way I read it, but I don’t really know much about Sebastian Shaw as a character either.

  19. I always say-bad idea to have any kind of telepath/mindreader (Saturne Girl, Emma Frost, Jean Grey)wearing lowcut, skimp, revealing etc. costumes, because while you’re lookin’ at them, they are scanning your brain and gettin’ pissed at what yur thinkin’

    • But it can always be used as a distraction that might occupy someone’s mind with things other than trying to keep you from finding out about their secret stash of Freakazoid! DVDs!

  20. Anoither overlooked atrocity: Donna Troy’s first post “Wonder Girl” outfit, when her origin was rewritten in the aftermath of the original “Crisis.” Her connection with Wonder Woman was severed, and she took the name “Troia” (as in “Counselor Troia” of the Starship Enterprise??? Really???) and wore a hideously overdesigned sparkly suit with tons and tons of tons of bling. Plus an “Indigo Girl” hairstyle, and I think she had a headband as well.

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