Nobody ever accused Peter Parker of being fashion forward but his alter ego Spider-Man has turned plenty of heads over the years with more than a few stylin’ threads. Boasting one of the most iconic and recognizable costumes in all of comics hasn’t stopped our favorite wallcrawler from raiding the closet every now and then. But let’s not sell puny Parker short in the fashion design department. Don’t forget, he designed his classic costume all by himself. In fact, superhero chic is one of his strong suits (so to speak). New Spidey duds have been instrumental throughout Peter’s career as Spider-Man, even if he hasn’t always been the model.
Often changing with the times (or the needs of the story), Peter has never been afraid to switch things up to give himself an edge while facing seemingly insurmountable odds. Or, y’know, just because. That isn’t to say there haven’t been a few fashion faux pas over the years. Even the most fashion-conscious celebs have goofed on the red carpet once or twice. By and large, though, Spidey’s been a paragon of superhero chic. Here are 15 of his dopest threads, in no particular order.
SPOILER ALERT! Spoilers ahead for numerous stories published by Marvel Comics.
15. CLASSICS NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE
First appearing in Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, Spider-Man’s original blue and red togs are proof positive that the classics never go out of style. Boasting a bright color scheme and clean lines, perhaps the most iconic feature of Ditko’s original design is the full face mask, which lends Spider-Man an everyman quality that is often mimicked but never realized to the same degree. Literally anybody could be under Spidey’s mask, regardless of race, creed or social class.
Ditko’s design has been refined by numerous artists, all of whom have put their own stamps on the classic costume. John Romita Sr. streamlined the look further, doing away with the under-arm webbing. Todd McFarlane tweaked the classic look by exaggerating the oval eyepieces, so that they covered almost the entire front portion of the mask. In all cases, the template remained true to Ditko’s original iconic vision.
14. BACK IN BLACK
One of the most striking yet simple costumes in comics, Spider-Man’s black and white onesie first appeared in Secret Wars #8 by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck. After his classic costume was torn to shreds, Spider-Man received a new costume, later revealed to be a sentient alien called a symbiote. Upon returning to Earth, Peter returned to his old costume, after his behavior became erratic due to the symbiote’s influence. Still, for a time, the black and white costume represented a dramatic departure from Spidey’s classic look.
The costume change polarized readers, some of whom embraced the new duds wholeheartedly, while diehard traditionalist rabidly opposed them. Whatever your stance on the black costume, it heralded a marked change in Spider-Man’s depiction and led to the introduction of one of his most popular villains in Venom.
13. THE MORALES MAKEOVER
After the death of original Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales took up the fallen hero’s mantle hoping to live up to the mantra of “with great power comes great responsibility.” Initially appearing as the new Ultimate Spider-Man in the classic blue and red costume, Miles debuted in his own ongoing series in 2011 wearing new threads with a darker color scheme more in keeping with his unique power set.
While he possesses all of Peter Parker’s spider-themed powers, Miles also possesses a few additional abilities, such as “spider camouflage,” which, along with his costume’s black and red coloring, makes him virtually invisible. His distinctive costume helps distinguish him from his predecessor, allowing Miles to forge his own identity as Spider-Man, a particularly important point considering he now shares the title in the mainstream Marvel Universe with the 616 Peter Parker.
12. FASHION FORWARD
Inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead festival, Miguel O’Hara’s ominous, ultra-cool Spider-Man 2099 duds first appeared in 1992’s Amazing Spider-Man #365, in a preview by Peter David and Rick Leonardi. A nod to both Miguel’s Mexican heritage and his scientific expertise, his futuristic Spidey costume is functional as well as stylish. The suit is made of unstable molecules that resist tearing by Miguel’s claws (unlike Peter Parker, Miguel doesn’t stick to walls but climbs them using hook-like claws in his fingers and toes).
Additionally, Miguel’s costume also features a web-cape constructed from a futuristic material called Lyte Byte, allowing him to glide through the air for short distances. A different look for a different Spidey, the Spider-Man 2099 costume is a totally unique design that still manages to be iconic.
11. WEARABLE TECH
If we know anything about Tony Stark, it’s that he can’t help tinkering. During the first superhero Civil War, Stark put his singular touch on Spider-Man’s look, updating Peter Parker’s design with cutting edge wearable tech. The costume change was one of the Civil War’s most dramatic reveals and first appeared in the tie-in issue, Amazing Spider-Man #529, by J. Michael Straczynski and Ron Garney.
Its red and gold color scheme and armoring was all Stark, as were many of the costume’s advanced technological features. Among them were enhanced vision capabilities, biological sensors, advanced communications system and most notably three extra arms. The conniving Stark also built in an override feature that would allow him to shut down the suit if Peter went rogue. No slouch in the science department himself, Peter bypassed Stark’s override and gave the suit up.
10. BROWN-BAGGIN’ IT
After discovering his new black and white costume was in fact a sentient symbiote attempting to bond with its host, Peter Parker ditched his new Spidey threads with the help of the Fantastic Four. In Amazing Spider-Man #258, Peter found himself without superhero togs and was forced to use an old FF costume instead. In place of his iconic mask, he wore a simple brown paper grocery bag — much to his buddy Johnny Storm’s delight. Storm took the embarrassing episode one step further, affixing a “Kick Me” sign to Peter’s back.
Alas, this wouldn’t be the only time he was forced to don a paper bag. In Spectacular Spider-Man #256, Peter fought off Grizzly and White Rabbit as the Bombastic Bag-Man, after he was forced to abandon his Spidey persona during the “Identity Crisis” storyline. Some guys just can’t catch a break.
In 2009, as part of its Marvel Noir alternate universe, Marvel Comics introduced a pulp-influenced Spider-Man, who fought crime and corruption in New York City during the Great Depression. Created by David Hine, Fabrice Sapolsky and Carmine Di Giandomenico, Spider-Man Noir gained his abilities from a supernatural spider-bite after an arcane arachnid statue shatters.
As the Spider-Man, Peter takes on the mobster Norman Osborn, his henchmen the Enforcers and a monstrous version of the Vulture. A product of its era, this Spider-Man costume features a long black trenchcoat and fedora, full face mask plus goggles and heavy boots. A much darker take on the character, this Peter Parker wasn’t above a little gunplay in his crusade against crime and carried various pistols and even a tommy gun into battle. Now that’s noir.
8. MOLECULAR DESIGN
After Johnny Storm gave his life to prevent Annihilus from invading the Earth, the Fantastic Four invited Spider-Man to take his friend’s spot on the team in 2011’s FF #1, by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting. The position wasn’t without its perks, including a new cutting edge costume composed of the FF’s trademark unstable molecules.
Boasting a strange yet somehow stunning white and black motif, the suit allowed Spidey to switch between his regular blue and red threads and Future Foundation costume on a moment’s notice. On top of changing its appearance, Spider-Man’s FF suit could also repair itself (a handy feature, given Spidey’s track record) and never got dirty. Although Spider-Man’s time on the FF wasn’t particularly long, his tenure with the team did give us this strange but wonderful take on his costume.
7. UNIVERSAL APPEAL
The concept of Captain Universe was created by Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden and first appeared in Micronauts #8. Actually a cosmic energy force called the Uni-Power, Captain Universe possesses suitable hosts, granting them a bewildering array of powers, including Uni-Vision, energy projection, flight and superhuman strength. In Spectacular Spider-Man #158, Peter Parker gains the cosmic powers of Captain Universe during Marvel’s “Acts of Vengeance” storyline.
Now arguably the most powerful hero on the planet, Spider-Man takes on heavy hitters such as the Hulk, Magneto and the Tri-Sentinel among others. In Amazing Spider-Man #329, he appears in the traditional Captain Universe costume, with one slight change: a red web-patterned portion of his original mask takes the place of the open mouth and chin of CU’s typical cowl. It’s a small detail but it works, putting a trademark Spidey-spin on Captain Universe’s already cool-as-beans costume.
6. ELIZABETHAN COUTURE
Marvel 1602 was the brainchild of Sandman creator Neil Gaiman, who envisioned an alternate Marvel Universe that took place during Elizabethan times. In this reality, Peter Parquaugh is an apprentice to the spy Nicholas Fury. Initially, Peter possesses no superhuman abilities until the end of the limited series, when he is finally bitten by a mysterious spider after a series of amusing near-misses during the course of his adventures.
He appears as the Spider in the sequel 1602: New World, wearing his familiar webbed full face mask (sans lenses) and otherwise traditional Elizabethan garb: ruffles, waistcoat and brilliant red stockings. It’s a strange get-up to be sure, but somehow it works. The same could be said for Gaiman’s surreal superhero fairy tale, which even made an appearance during the latest Secret Wars event.
5. ARMOR ALL
Over the course of his career as Spider-Man, Peter Parker has donned at least four distinctive versions of Spider-Armor (not including Tony Stark’s Iron Spider). The first version appeared in 1993’s Web of Spider-Man #100 by Terry Kavanagh and Alex Saviuk, and was designed to provide Peter Parker with extra protection against the New Enforcers. The MK II version appeared almost two decades later in 2011, in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #656 by Dan Slott and Marcos Martin.
This much sleeker bullet-proof suit provided him added protection from the trigger-happy Massacre who had managed to shoot Peter while he was without his vaunted spider-sense. The most recent MK IV armor looks almost indistinguishable from Peter’s regular costume and debuted in 2015’s Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 4 #1 by Slott and Guiseppi Camuncoli. It boasts numerous upgrades to his offensive and defensive capabilities including enhanced web-shooters, heads-up display and hologram projection.
4. STEALTH STYLIN’
This slick, fresh-looking costume is a product of Peter Parker’s time at Horizon Labs. Like his MK III Anti-Sinister Six armor, which would debut just over a year later, Spider-Man’s stealth suit was developed with a specific function in mind. In Amazing Spider-Man #650 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, Spidey finds himself up against the Hobgoblin and his patented Lunatic Laugh.
Paralyzed by the deadly sonic attack, Peter is only saved by the intervention of his colleague Bella, who uses his MP3 player to counteract the Laugh’s effects. To this end, Peter designs a stealth suit capable of bending both sound and light around his body, effectively negating the Hobgoblin’s sonic assault. When he’s engaged its visual cloak, the spider insignia glows neon green. To counteract the Hobgoblin’s laugh in anti-sonic mode, the emblem glows neon red.
3. SINISTER STYLE
Also known as the MK III, this Anti-Sinister Six Spider-Armor debuted during the “Ends of the Earth” storyline in 2012’s Amazing Spider-Man #682 by Dan Slott and Stefano Caselli. Developed using his own genius-level intellect and the resources of the now-defunct Horizon Labs, this remarkable suit of armor was designed specifically to take on the Sinister Six, including Sandman, the Chameleon, Mysterio, the Rhino, Doc Ock and Electro.
It boasts a wide array of capabilities such as a holographic visor (rendering Mysterio’s illusions useless), flight, enhanced hearing so that he can pinpoint the Chameleon’s heartbeat, upgraded durability capable of withstanding the Rhino’s rampaging attacks and “Electro-Proofing” allowing him to withstand electrical attacks. The suit also includes Doctor Octopus’ Octo-Bot helmet, which unfortunately failed to take down its creator.
2. REILLY’S RAGS
Long before his recent return as the Jackal, Ben Reilly served for a time as Spider-Man. It was without a doubt the most confusing patch in the wall-crawler’s history. At the time, it was revealed the man we all thought was Peter Parker was in fact a clone created by the original Jackal. Ben, who thought he had been the clone, took over the heroic identity, after Peter decided to take time off to take care of his pregnant wife Mary Jane.
As Spider-Man, Ben donned a tweaked version of the original blue and red costume in 1996’s Sensational Spider-Man #0 by Dan Jurgens. Gone were the traditional webbed boots, gloves and waistband, in favor of a more streamlined design that also featured a larger black spider emblem on the chest and torso. Another notable change was moving Spidey’s iconic web-shooters to the outside of the wrist.
1. SUPERIOR STITCHING
When Doctor Octopus hijacked Peter Parker’s body and became the Superior Spider-Man, he took the opportunity to redesign the web-slinger’s iconic costume. Debuting in Amazing Spider-Man #700 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, Octavius’ costume replaced the traditional blue with black and added redesigned boots (with a separated big toe), finger claws and glass goggles that featured heads-up display.
Octavius’ initial changes were originally more cosmetic in nature but he would later upgrade the costume as his old personality reasserted itself. The new Superior Spider-Man costume featured an enlarged spider emblem, a built-in comm system to direct his nano-spiders and most notably the addition of four formidable spider-legs. After he reclaimed his body from Doc Ock, Peter mothballed the suit but brought it back temporarily during his battle with Itsy Bitsy.
What’s your favorite Spider-Man costume? Let us know in the Comments!
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