Top 10 Spider-Man Costumes
In 1962 Spider-Man swung into the comic book scene and took the world by storm. In a time when superheroes were grown men (Superman, Batman, you get the point), this awkward teenager fought his way to the top and become one of the most popular superheroes of all time. Through the decades his belief that “With great power there must also come great responsibility” has kept him busy. As the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man he has fought a variety of villains. Sometimes the challenges he faced were more than his spidey powers could handle and required him to create special costumes. At one point, an alien symbiote disguised itself as a costume and tried to take over his body. Peter Parker has even been cloned on more than one occasion. These clones have tried to separate themselves from the original and designed their own costumes. With over 50 years of fighting crime under his web, it can be nice to change things up. The following are my 10 favorite Spider-Man costumes that Peter Parker (and his clones) have worn over the years.
10. Insulated Spider-Man
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #425
Electro gave himself a power boost and Spider-Man needed a little more protection if he was going to take him down. Peter created an insulated suit that would help absorb the heat from Electro’s much more powerful electric blast. This was a cleaner look than the rubber air-mattress he used to fight Electro in Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #66. This well padded costume did not lose the agile appearance that is key to Spider-Man’s fighting style.
9. Cosmic Spider-Man
First Appearance: Spectacular Spider-Man #158 (Powers) & Amazing Spider-Man # 329 (Costume)
Spider-Man has fought among the big boys for years. He has stood up to and defeated the Firelord (Amazing Spider-Man 269-270) and The Juggernaut (Amazing Spider-Man (229-230) but he is nowhere near as powerful as the Hulk, Thor, Thing, or Silver Surfer. However, in 1989 Spider-Man was granted Cosmic Powers when Captain Universe joined with him, and Cosmic Spider-Man became one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe. The suit looked like Captain Universe, with a Spider-Man mouthpiece but this costume easily translated the raw power our webslinger now possessed.
8. Ends of the Earth Armor
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #682
Peter Parker once again designs a suit of armor to help him battle a group of enemies possessing different powers. During the Ends of the Earth storyline, Spider-Man must battle the famous Sinister Six. To aid him, he built an advance battle suit that not only increased his strength but also made him immune to Electo’s energy bolts, allowed him to stand up to Rhino’s punches, audio sensors to recognize the Chameleon through his different disguises and visual sensors to spot Mysterio’s illusions or Sandman’s minute particle movements. No Spidey Costume would be complete without web-shooters and these not only had more storage space but also could release the old reliable formula or a new magnetic webbing.
7. Ben Reilly as Spider-Man
First Appearance: Sensational Spider-Man #0
When Ben Reilly showed up into Peter Parker’s world in 1993, fans and writers did not know what was going on. Who was the real Peter Parker? Who would continue the role of Spider-Man? How long can they drag this storyline out? Ben Reilly finally took up the mantle of Spider-Man in the 1996 issue of Sensational Spider-Man #0. When the Peter Parker I had been following for almost two decades was no longer Spider-Man, I stopped reading his comics on a regular basis. Despite not wanting to spend the money to follow Ben Reilly’s adventures, I had to admit the man had style. The costume was similar enough to the original costume to be instantly identifiable but still added a lot of its own flair. The large web-shooters worn on the outside are a nice reference to his old Scarlet Spider identity. Enlarging the amount of blue and making the gloves multicolor allowed for a fresh look without sacrificing the iconic image completely. Expanding the features of the original design allowed the large black spider symbol stretching across the entire torso to flow naturally.
6. Armored Spider
First Appearance: Web of Spider-Man #100
This costume was specially created by Peter to help him defeat the New Enforcers. The armor was only used once but this versatile armor protected him from the different powers of the New Enforcers; Plan Man’s deadly spores, Dragon Man’s extreme heat bursts, Eel’s electric charge, and Thermite’s varying temperature blasts. When I first saw this costume, I hated it! It looked bulky, ugly, and plain. However, over the years it started to grow on me. Now the Armored Spider has a special place in Spider-Man history. This suit would only be worn in one issue but it would also be the first of many specially designed armored spider costume. This costume makes up for the awkward silver medieval knight/hockey goalie design from 1993 through nostalgia. Spider-Man looks like an armored war machine ready for battle and this armor fought its way into this position.
5. Bombastic Bag-Man
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #258
This may be the shortest lived costume in Peter Parker’s wardrobe selection but it was Fantastic and well deserving of its high ranking. After the Secret Wars, Peter was using the alien symbiote as his main costume. So in the 1984 issue of Amazing Spider-Man 258, when he discovered it was a living alien and Mr. Fantastic separate Peter from the symbiote, Peter was left only wearing his skivvies. His good friend Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch, was kind enough to lend Peter one of his old Fantastic Four costumes. Being a good friend he also gave Peter a paper back to hide his secret identity and called him the Bombastic Bag-Man. Spider-Man would take on this identity once more when he had a million dollar bounty placed on his head for a murder he did not commit. Of course that time he ditched the FF uniform and just wore a pair of orange pants. Spider-Man is my all time favorite superhero. One of the reasons I enjoy his comics is because of the fun humor. This costume embraces that humor and brings in the playful teasing amongst friends.
4. Scarlet Spider
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #149 (Ben/Clone) Web of Spider-Man #118 (Costume)
The number 4 spot goes to Ben Reilly, the clone of Peter Parker. Ben’s first appearance would be in the 1975 issue of Amazing Spider-Man 149. Created by the Jackal to punish Spider-Man over the death of Gwen Stacy. Readers though the clone had been killed and disposed of in a smokestack, when the storyline concluded. However, In 1993 Marvel brought the clone back to add an interesting twist into Spider-Man’s life. Who was the real Peter Parker? The name, Scarlet Spider, and costume were meant to be over-dramatic, ridiculous and short lived but overwhelming positive reaction from fans caused the storyline to continue for much longer than they planned. The solid scarlet spidey tights worn under a blue cut off jacket, with oversized web-shooters and belt resonated with fans. This is one of the few costumes that was able to add texture to the tight spandex suit favored by our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. For its ability to add dimensions and so many new features, yet still be recognizably a Spidey suit, this costume makes the list.
3. Iron Spider
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man # 529
The Iron Spider suit, designed by Tony Stark, is the most Amazing, Spectacular Spider-Man costume ever imagined. It probably would have taken the number one position if not for the history associated with the top two spots. This suit drew a lot of inspiration from the appearance of Iron Man’s red and gold armor. Beyond looks, it also packed quite a punch and augmented Peter’s already impressive spider like powers. The armor had the ability for short-range gliding, increased his strength, resistant to heat and small caliber bullets, stealth mode that made him almost invisible, filters to protect against airborne poisons, and three retractable spider legs called waldoes. To help Spider-Man search out crime the suit came with; police scanners, GPS communication system, and infrared/ultraviolet visual sensors. To top all of these crime fighting gadgets, the suit could instantly switch between the style of Spider-Man’s old costumes or his normal street clothes. Of course, like many Spider-Man costumes that seem too good to be true, there was a down side. Tony Stark was using the suit to monitor Peter and study his Spider-Sense. When Spider-Man switched sides during the Marvel Civil War, Stark immobilized the costume. Luckily Peter was a genius before he was bitten by a radioactive spider and was able to override Tony’s programming. For style and power, the Iron Spider suit securely cemented itself into the number three ranking.
2. Alien Symbiote
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man # 252 (costume) & Secret Wars # 8 (symbiote origin)
The most famous costume Spider-Man ever wore, outside his signature red and blue clothing, is the Alien Symbiote suit. Even before we found out its true origins, fans loved Spider-Man’s new look. This would be the first time Peter Parker would have a dramatic change made to his standard costume. The all black design with a large white spider splashed across the front and back helped bring out a more menacing appearance. Peter loved this suit because of its unlimited supply of webbing (no longer had to worry about his web cartridges running out), ability to transform into civilian clothes (no more hiding his outfits between quick changes), and capability to repair itself (saved Peter a lot of money). However, it also turned out to be an alien symbiote feeding off him, so he was forced to ditch his new digs. The symbiote would then bond with Eddie Brock and become one of Spider-Man’s greatest enemies, Venom. It would later spawn and create Carnage, another major villain in the Spider-Man storyline. After the trauma Venom caused Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, Peter would rarely wear a black costumes again. When Spider-Man does wear a black outfit it usually means he is in a darker mood and crossing lines he normally wouldn’t. On rare occasions he has used its dark coloring for a strategic reason.
1. Red and Blue Spider-Man Costume
First Appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15
It is hard to beat a classic. Spider-Man’s original costume has been fine tuned over the years but at its roots the basic design has remained the same. When a Hero has been able to stick with the same costume for over 60 years, you know it has to be a winner. The red and blue (originally black) color pattern helps his image pop off the printed comic book page or the big screen. What could be a very bland design and color scheme is heightened by the web pattern layered on top of the red. Large eye lenses help bring a bit of terror to a kid friendly costumes, which plays in nicely to the friend or menace public imaging crisis Peter Parker has constantly battled over the years. The webbing under his arms would slowly shrink, until it finally disappeared. However, every now and then it will make a reappearance. The black spider on his chest would undergo some of the most dramatic changes over the years but remained a key symbol on his costume.
Reading way too many Spider-Man comics.