Team uniforms have served a variety of uses throughout comic book history. They denote a group of heroes who are united for a common purpose and they signify that a hero is not alone in their journey. Sometimes uniforms have tactical uses, such as utility belts or communication badges, but sometimes they just look cool. It’s a way for readers to recognize characters in storyline crossovers, as well as crossover marketing memorabilia. If any hero has an “X” anywhere on their uniform, readers automatically assume they have some affiliation with the X-Men. Wearing head-to-toe blue with a “4” on your chest? Fantastic Four.
For many characters, especially if their comic book title has been around for decades, they have gone through multiple iterations of team uniforms as style goes through cycles. Readers started seeing these team uniforms pop up in the late ’50s and early ’60s, with titles such as The Fantastic Four, The X-Men and Challengers of the Unknown. Many of these uniforms have followed the fashion trends throughout the decades, often incorporating a certain popular color or style, to help create a more realistic experience for fans. CBR profiles some of our favorite team uniform looks throughout the years.
15. FUTURE FOUNDATION
In one of the most polarizing story arcs in their publishing history, the Fantastic Four was essentially rebooted as the Future Foundation in 2010. Veteran members Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman and the Thing were joined by Spider-Man as a group dedicated to using brains over brawn to solve the world’s problems. Future Foundation never quite found it’s footing and ended in 2014 after the Marvel NOW! relaunch.
The team uniforms resembled spacesuits with a modernized design. Black and white in colors, each member had a collection of three hexagons on the chest. One of the three hexagons would be filled in with black to signify one part of the whole. Spider-Man’s costume was basically a white version of his regular one, with no web design and a large spider on his chest. These uniforms were similar to the Fantastic Four’s regular uniforms and made allowances for each power set.
14. NEW X-MEN
New X-Men was a soft reboot in the early 2000’s of the then-second volume of the main X-Men series and included a core team of Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine and Jean Grey. Popular storylines during this time included the destruction of Genosha, the rise of Cassandra Nova as a supervillain and Jean Grey’s most recent comic book death. Despite being known for several major milestones, Morrison’s run ended just a few years later in 2014.
The uniforms, however, left a lot to be desired. In what can only be described as “hipster chic”, the tops looked like a cross between a varsity jacket and life vest. While partially staying loyal to the original team colors of blue and gold, uniformed were embossed with large gold X’s and a dark leather background. The team uniforms incorporated incoherent zippers and stripes in a much more casual look than their traditional uniforms.
Capitalizing on the orgy of team superhero books in the early ’90s, Image Comics created Gen13. It featured a loosely organized team of genetically super-powered beings composed of five teenagers and their unorthodox mentor. Famous for being sexually risque, and also depicting one of the first out bisexual characters, Rainmaker, the team included Caitlin Fairchild, Grunge, Freefall and Burnout as well.
While definitely known for its barely there uniforms (Caitlin ended half-naked every time she used her powers anyway), the team’s uniforms were a mix of street fashion and athletic wear. Roxy almost always was seen with her signature leather jacket, Grunge was usually topless so he could show off his chest tattoo and Rainmaker eventually started wearing arm braces to help focus her lightning powers. With the exception of Roxy, the rest of the team’s costumes shared a similar color scheme of greens, reds and yellows.
12. ALPHA FLIGHT
In an attempt to capitalize on the huge success of the X-Men in the late ’70s, comic book writer John Byrne created a group of Canadian-based superheroes. At first just appearing in a Wolverine backstory, the team was given their own title in 1983. The original team was made up of Guardian, Northstar and his sister Aurora, Sasquatch, Shaman and Snowbird. Future members would include Marrina, Puck and Heather Macneil, wife of the original Guardian who takes up the mantle after his death.
The uniforms Alpha Flight wore were as patriotic to Canada as Captain America’s is to the USA. Utilizing color blocking and a maple leaf imprint, the team’s original uniforms were reminiscent of Olympic jumpsuits. Eventually, they would have smaller details that helped identify the heroes individually, such as Northstar and Aurora’s starbursts and Heather updating the Guardian suit after taking it over.
X-Force was created to be a more militant version of the X-Men. Lead by the time-traveling mutant Cable, the original line-up included Boom Boom, Cannonball, Domino, Feral, Shatterstar and Warpath. The following years would see Siryn, Rictor and Sunsport join the ranks. The team would go on to play a large role in the massive X-titles crossover “X-Cutioner’s Song”, which found Cable facing off against Stryfe.
Following “X-Cutioner’s Song”, X-Force spent some time regrouping after losing Cable. It was at this point that the team refreshed their looks with updated uniforms featuring brighter colors found prominently throughout the ’90s. While simplistic in approach, each costume was a slight variation in design, with keeping a militaristic theme. The utility belts and pockets of the final New Mutants days were still present, along with signature pieces like cowboy boots for Rictor and wrist launchers for Boom Boom.
10. LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
This team of superheroes are time travelers from the 30th and 31st centuries in the DC Comics Universe who first appeared in 1958. Literally a club of super-powered teenagers from different planets and galaxies, the Legion of Super-Heroes featured characters such as Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Andromeda and Brainiac 5. The Legion went on to play integral parts of DC storylines such as “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, “Zero Hour” and The New 52 relaunch.
Creators went with a basic costume design with a variation of colors with the addition of details such as a cape, cut-outs and studding. As an accessory, each Legion member was given a flight ring, granting them the ability to fly as well as communicate with other members. Signature looks include Lightning Lad’s lightning strikes placed above his shoulders, Apparition’s ghostly silhouette and Shadow Lass’ Gothic getup. Variety never looked so good.
9. THE NEW MUTANTS
The New Mutants were basically the next generation of X-Men that popped up around 1983. The original team included Cannonball, Mirage, Sunspot, Wolfsbane and Karma. Future notable members would include the otherworldly Warlock, Cypher, Magma and Colossus’ sister, Magik.
In 2009, veteran New Mutants members Cannonball, Karma, Magik, Magma, Dani Moonster and Sunspot came back together to act as a new field team for the X-Men. When they first got the band back together, the team wore their original uniforms from the ’80s but eventually updated their look with an homage to past X-Men uniforms. Sporting zip up jumpsuits with large “X”s plastered over the majority of their uniforms, a badge with a simple “X” was also included, as it appears to be tradition in the X-titles.
8. DEATHSTROKE’S TEEN TITANS
While easily described as DC’s equivalent of Marvel’s Deadpool, Deathstroke has made a name as one of the biggest villains in Teen Titans history, he was responsible for one the team’s most famous stories, “The Judas Contract”. However, recent events bring about a change of his heart after he spent some time in the Speed Force. He comes out on the other side on a mission to create his own Titans team. His recruits include Power Girl, Kid Flash, Terra, and his own kids, Rose and Jericho.
Creators opted for a streamlined, black and white design that is both slightly individualized but also have enough similarities to signify the group being a team. Kid Flash’s lightning bolt is carried over, as well as Deathstroke’s basic design. This is probably one of the freshest team uniform looks we’ve seen as of late and we are loving it!
7. X-FORCE (1996)
Following the return of Cable, the team eventually morphed into a dysfunctional super-powered family. The series regularly infused dramatic plot threads, like multiple romances and Siryn’s struggle with alcoholism, with violent action scenes. The mysterious origins of Shatterstar were also explored. This era of X-Force also saw the reintroduction of veteran New Mutants members Dani Moonstar, Cypher and Wolfsbane.
Ditching the previous busy color schemes, X-Force went for a more streamlined look with skintight outfits that were reinforced with protective outerwear. While each character still retained some traits of their previous uniforms, like Domino’s signature purple and Siryn’s “wings,”the uniforms almost seem like they took a few cues from Generation X’s costumes, which featured similar protective outerwear. Stylish and practical, this remains a classic X-Force look.
6. UNCANNY X-FORCE
In 2008, X-Force was reconstituted by Cyclops as a black ops X-team to use lethal force to permanently deal with outstanding mutant threats but eventually broke out on their own. The team consisted of veteran X-Men Psylocke, Wolverine and Archangel (the two co-lead the team) along with newcomers Fantomex and Deadpool. Despite high sales and edge-of-your-seat action, the title was relaunched as part of Marvel NOW! in 2012.
To coincide with a darker, grittier tone, the team’s classic color costumes were changed to tones of gray, black and white. Gone were Deadpool’s signature red uniform, Wolverine’s blue and gold costume, Psylocke’s purple skinsuit and Archangel’s blue flight suit. The look definitely said “seriously dangerous” and is one of the edgiest team uniforms in recent history.
5. THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS
Human Hal Jordan become part of an interstellar group of lawmen called the Green Lanterns, later renamed Green Lantern Corps. Each with a Power Ring that was conceived of alien-advanced technology that allowed the wearer to project green energy beams which the bearer could manipulate into any size or shape. The Corps went on to play important parts in major DC storylines such as “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, “The Blackest Night” and “The Darkseid War”.
Team uniforms were usually replicas of the current uniform worn by Earth’s Green Lantern, with variations making room for stature and species. This typically entailed the colors green and black with white gloves or boots and a crest of the Green Lantern Power Ring in the chest area. Probably one of the largest teams with matching uniforms in comic book history, the Green Lantern Corps’ uniforms have been their major identifier in times of trouble.
4. GENERATION X
Generation X debuted as one of many X-Men spin-offs in 1994. Similar to its predecessor the New Mutants, this team centered on a group of teenage mutants learning to use their powers to protect mankind. Original team members included Chamber, M, Mondo, Skin, Synch, former junior X-Man Jubilee and Cannonball’s younger sister, Husk. The title had become so popular that Marvel turned it into a made-for-TV movie with hopes of it becoming a live-action series.
There’s a simplicity to the team’s uniforms that are both aesthetically pleasing and practical. Dark red suits with yellow protective outerwear, like knee pads and elbow braces, expressed that these teenagers were dangerous but also still “in training.” The suits were made to accommodate individual powers such as Skin’s stretchy skin, Chamber’s upper chest energy cavity and Husk’s ability to shed her skin to change into a different substance.
3. X-FACTOR INVESTIGATIONS
First appearing in Madrox’s solo series in 2005, X-Factor Investigations were eventually given their own monthly series. The original lineup focused on Madrox, Strong Guy and Wolfsbane. They worked together to investigate and solve mutant mysteries for whomever paid them. Storylines included Layla’s time-traveling to the past to prevent a disastrous future (similar to Rachel Summers’ initial story-line in the pages of X-Men), the team’s involvement in “Civil War” and Shatterstar and Rictor officially becoming a couple.
While the team originally starts out with very casual, T-shirt and jeans attire, for the later part of the series’ run they adopt team uniforms. After spending an extended period of time in Layla’s future timeline, the team returns to the present with a new mission and new uniforms. Reminiscent of The Matrix movies, members adopted color-blocked leather suits that were often accompanied by long coats or a cloak (in Siryn’s case).
2. X-MEN (1991)
The original X-Men started out wearing blue and gold outfits that looked more like ’60s swimsuits. The team’s look evolved throughout the years, often times adopting individualized costumes. Found right between the extravagant, punk-influenced ’80s and the Jim Lee ’90s, the Muir Island X-Men found themselves recuperating from a recent battle with the Shadow King. This team included fan favorites like Wolverine, Forge, Banshee, Gambit, Storm, Psylocke and Jubilee.
What is so great about these team uniforms is that they are a modern take on the classic blue and gold uniforms. Decked out with red “X” belt buckles and straps, the uniforms also made exceptions for individual modifications like Forge’s exposed cybernetic leg and Banshee’s “wings.” Even after the team went back to more individual styles, Kitty Pryde wore variations of the costume for the next couple of decades and still wears a version of it today!
1. FANTASTIC FOUR
The Fantastic Four debuted in 1961 and have been the foremost recognizable group ever since. Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, Invisible Woman and her brother, the Human Torch, gained their powers from being on a spaceship what was bombarded by cosmic rays. The roster would change in the coming years, rotating in and out heroes such as She-Hulk, Medusa, Crystal and even Spider-Man. One thing remained constant, however: the team’s uniforms.
The classic suits are modified spacesuits to alter along with each heroes’ powers. So, Mr. Fantastic’s uniform stretches, Invisible Woman can make her uniform invisible and the Human Torch’s can withstand fire. Typically a shade of blue with some white and black mixed in for details, there’s also the ever-present “4” insignia on some part of the body. No matter which heroes are wearing the uniforms, readers always know which four are fantastic.
Are there any other uniforms you think should’ve made the list? Let us know in the comments!
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