They say the clothes make the man; well, the same goes for superheroes. After all, characters live and die by their costumes, sometimes quite literally. So it is imperative that a character has a costume that manages to look visually interesting, cool, unique, and, most importantly, matches the personality of the character. While DC Comics has been churning out iconic costumes for more than 80 years, they don’t always manage to get it right on the first try. Heck, they sometimes don’t even get it right on the second or third try or, as is the case here, in their most recent attempts.
Superheroes change costumes like most people change socks, so a new costume every couple of years is nothing new. But just because these costumes are DC-approved doesn’t mean they’re any good. In fact, DC has plenty of costumes that are silly, forgettable, uninteresting, and just plain ugly. Thankfully, there are plenty of enterprising fans out there who aren’t afraid to think outside the box when it comes to superhero costuming. With no executive board or investors breathing down their necks, these fans manage to think of costumes that are leagues better than the real thing. So, join CBR as we take a look at a carefully cultivated list of the 15 best costumes designed by fans that are better than the real thing!
15. SUPERMAN BY AARON KOESTER
Superman is the DC Universe’s Big Blue Boy Scout. He is a living, breathing representation of Truth, Justice and the American Way. Most importantly, he’s a little old fashioned. Clark Kent has never shied away from his small town roots; he prefers to address others as “Sir” or “Miss,” he never misses an opportunity to hold the door for a stranger, and he believes in treating others as he wants to be treated. So it would only make sense that the Big S has a costume as old fashioned as he is.
Superman superfan Aaron Koester opted to go with this outfit, which features prominent red shorts, complete with belt, while also shortening the cape, and rolling up the sleeves, giving Supes a definite 1940s strong guy vibe. With the old school “S” emblem emblazoned on his chest, this suit does an excellent job of establishing Superman as man with a foot squarely in the past, but with his eyes on the future.
14. FIRESTORM BY STEFAN GRAMBART
Let’s face facts: Firestorm has a long and storied history of rocking some truly ugly costumes. Since his inception in 1978, Firestorm has favored brights red and yellows, occasionally incorporating eye rolling shoulder pads and little yellow booties. Despite being a literal walking nuclear conductor, his outfits have kept Firestorm perennially in the C-Listers. What Firestorm needs is a costume that really shakes things up, and artist Stefan Grambart has created a Firestorm costume that does just that.
Gone are the eye-searing primary colors; in their place is a muted black suit, with yellow nuclear energy crackling across the outfit to give it a splash of color. Paying homage to Firestorm’s famous face-framing helmet, Grambart’s outfit features a high collar that draws the eye to the head, ablaze with nuclear fury. This is a Firestorm that looks powerful, dangerous and downright scary, and is definitely better than DC’s current costume.
13. HARLEY QUINN BY SHOOMLAH
DC has been only too eager to ditch Harley’s classic harlequin duds, alternating between a jacket and hot pants combo inspired by the classic costume and a more Suicide Squad influenced get-up, making Harley look like a bargain bin Suicide Girl. But artist Shoomlah has crafted a costume that shows that Harley can have a future without forgetting about her past.
This outfit ditches the recent skimpy outfits Harley has been rocking, putting Quinn in ratty jeans, combat boots, and a jacket, with arm wraps and a black diamond tattoo driving home the “no nonsense” look of the costume. Outfitted in a headpiece that retains the classic harlequin look of her OG costume, but morphing the famous hat into a more “street” piece, the costume culminates in the smeared black eye make-up that lets you know this Harley is a strong, independent psycho who don’t need no Joker.
12. APOLLO BY JILLJOHANSEN
While many of the Wildstorm characters have had a difficult time making the jump into the main DC Universe, there are two characters from the dearly departed comic company that fit in perfectly: Apollo and Midnighter. While both former Authority members have received new duds, with Midnighter rocking a killer costume, Apollo’s costume is still positively, remarkably unimpressive.
But artist JillJohansen has envisioned a costume that would pay homage to Apollo’s Wildstorm duds, all while giving him a look all his own. JillJohansen gives Apollo a flowing mane of hair, much like the Apollo of old. But this Apollo outfit gives the hero a sleek, form-fitting costume, oping for simplicity, rather than the business of Apollo’s current costume. This is a costume that would allow Apollo to stand out in the crowded DCU, all while retaining the elements that made him popular in the first place.
11. VIBE BY RAMON VILLALOBOS
Since he first appeared in the doomed Justice League Detroit in the ’80s, Vibe has had a very obvious, impossible-to-miss problem: he is excruciatingly lame. From his Breakin’ 2 personality to his bargain basement costume, Vibe always seemed fated to be stuck with the F-Grade DC heroes. But a co-starring role on the popular CW show The Flash brought Vibe back into the spotlight. But Vibe still had a pretty big problem: his new costume was lame.
Thankfully, professional comic artist Ramon Villalobos designed the perfect costume to remedy this problem. Harkening back to Vibe’s B-Boy roots, this costume gives Vibe more of a legitimate streetwise look, subbing out the goofy leather vest the character rocks in the New 52 for a more realistic down vest and hoodie combo. Villalobos’ costume much better suits Vibe’s, well, vibe, and it is miles better than the current DC outfit.
10. POWER GIRL BY PRYCE14
Despite a power set that rivals Superman, Power Girl has been relegated to playing second fiddle to Harley Quinn. But with Power Girl’s infamous “boob window,” DC clearly does’t want PG showing off her, er, “assets” in its family friendly comics. Thankfully, artist pryce14 has devised the perfect costume for Power Girl that pays homage to Peeg’s classic costume, while moving the character into the 21st century.
Pryce14 drops the boob window, opting for a swanky “P” chest piece that resembles the Superman “S” shield. The suit features plenty of eye catching color, from the gold embroidery found on the cape to the gold belt on the hips. Most importantly, Power Girl is given a pair of pants, transforming her from eye candy into a powerful superheroine to be reckoned with. DC would be wise to follow pryce14’s example and give Power Girl an outfit that matches her power, girl.
9. MR FREEZE BY LESEAN THOMAS
Fact: Mr. Freeze’s cryo suit and head dome costume is a true classic, and one of the most iconic costumes in Batman’s rogue gallery. Also fact: Mr. Freeze’s New 52 costume is terrible. Taking the brainy Victor Fries and shoving him in a glorified tank-top makes for one silly costume. Thankfully, professional animator and comic artist LeSean Thomas devised the perfect costume to update Mr. Freeze for the modern day.
Freeze sports a slick midnight black body suit, while lines and tubes filled with ice cold coolant snake across his body, all topped off by Fries’s noodle, hidden in a mass of misty freon gas. This costume does an excellent job of reaffirming how scary Freeze can be, while introducing an interesting visual element that harkens back to Freeze’s classic dome. DC should put Victor’s current suit on ice and learn a thing or two from LeSean Thomas’ redesign.
8. RAVEN BY OSKAR VEGA
Raven is a perfect example of the power of simplicity. A leotard, a face obscuring hood, and a flowing cape are all Raven needs to cement herself as a fan-favorite. But Raven’s New 52 design is quite the opposite, with random spikes a-plenty, gauntlets that look more than a little Witchblade-y, and the goofiest helmet in comics. Thankfully, if DC ever needs to go back to the drawing board on this fashion abomination, artist Oskar Vega has the perfect costume.
With a whispy black hood and a split cape, the costume serves as a fun throwback to Raven’s OG costume. In a nod to Raven’s gothic leanings, the suit features an eye catching belt of bird skulls, topped with skeleton rib piece. Vega’s costume understands that sometimes less is more, giving Raven a unique outfit that captures what made the character popular, while also allowing her to evolve.
7. POISON IVY BY SKELLINGTON1
When you think about it, Poison Ivy is TERRIFYING. The ability to control what makes up 90% of the Earth should make Ivy a world class threat, but this Batman baddie mostly sticks to making plant puns and summoning vines. Thankfully, artist Skellington1 has concocted the perfect costume to match the horrifying power that Ivy wields.
Gone are the tantalizing pouty lips and come-hither eyes; this is a Poison Ivy that truly looks inhuman. Bark sprouts from the top of her head and covers her body.. Her legs have been replaced with spiked roots, giving Ivy the appearance of a tree that just yanked itself out of the ground. And Ivy has clearly grown past human hang-ups, as this Ivy is letting it all hang out. Poison Ivy has filled the role of sexpot for long enough; with this costume, DC could finally embrace the terrifying nature of Poison Ivy.
6. THE JOKER BY RAFAEL GRAMPA
Brazilian comic artist Rafael Grampa has made a name on the indie comics scene with his distinctive art style, blending exaggerated features with a quasi-graffiti inspired look that really makes his characters pop right off the page. Grampa’s applied his eye-catching style to a truly distinct design for The Joker.
The Joker has gone through plenty of changes over the years, proving as versatile as a chameleon in assimilating into his latest look. Grampa took the classic elements of the Clown Prince of Crime and turned them on their head. He’s taken a more realistic approach to the Joker’s famous toothy grin, tattooing a permanent smile on the Joker’s face. With his thin, cracked lips, narrow eyebrows and receding hairline. this is a Joker that looks downright gross. Unlike DC’s current Joker design, this really drives home that the Joker is no joke.
5. MARTIAN MANHUNTER BY AARON DIAZ
Despite being widely considered one of the most important members of the Justice League of America, there is one thing that the Martian Manhunter has never had: a costume that wasn’t totally dumb. While DC has worked to bring J’onn J’onnz kicking and screaming into the 21st century, the Manhunter’s current costume isn’t anything to write home about. Thankfully, webcomic artist Aaron Diaz has concocted a costume that would really give J’onn a unique look all his own.
Playing off the Martian’s secretive nature, this costume covers J’onn head to toe, hiding the Manhunter in a shadowy cloak. This cloak and bodysuit set-up plays with Martian Manhunter’s famous red suspenders, transforming them into an eye catching chest piece. Ironically, by hiding every inch of the Manhunter, Diaz’s costume allows the elder statesman of the JLA to really stand out, and DC would be wise to follow Diaz’s example.
4. SUPERGIRL BY CORY WALKER
With a TV show on The CW and a prominent role in Injustice 2, Supergirl is finding herself with plenty of new fans. Despite being the cousin of the Big Blue himself, Supergirl has never quite been able to match the iconic nature of her cousin’s costume. No, what Supergirl really needs is a costume all her own, and Invincible co-creator Cory Walker has whipped up the perfect costume to help Kara stand out.
Gone are the belly shirt and the mini-skirt; in its place is a no-nonsense bodysuit, topped off with an eye-catching red leather jacket. Supergirl has the power to go toe-to-toe with some of the strongest threats in the DCU; she is long past due to ditch the teeny bopper outfit and don a costume that shows how fierce, strong, and utterly badass Supergirl can be.
3. AQUAMAN BY LEE CHEN FANG
Aquaman has an underwater kingdom at his beck and call, but there is one thing Aquaman does not have: respect. Despite more than proving himself as one of the most competent heroes in the DCU, people still see Aquaman as as a joke. What Aquaman really needs is a design that is less “day glo orange punchline” and more “badass warrior.” Along comes artist Lee Chen Fang, who turns Aquaman into a take-no-prisoners king of the depths.
With an outfit inspired by the swashbuckling pirates of yore, Lee Chen Fang builds from there, giving Arthur Curry a crown and cape fit for a king. Armed with an intimidating trident, fashioned after the face of Poseidon, and a arm with a sea monster shoulder protector and an otherworldly bio-mechanical hand, and you’ve got one Aquaman that is not to be messed with. You definitely wouldn’t see this Aquaman on Super Friends.
2. WONDER WOMAN BY STJEPAN SEJIC
Wonder Woman has come a long way from her humble beginnings of star adorned underoos. Diana has finally received a costume that better matches her warrior ways, but this iconic hero is still decked out in a short skirt and a breast-accentuating chest piece. No, what Wonder Woman needs is a costume that really emphasizes the warrior ways of the Amazons, and comic artist Stjepan Sejic has cooked up the perfect outfit for Diana.
Sejic’s costume gives Diana what any warrior needs: practical armor. Gone is the “top boob” chest piece; now, Wonder Woman rocks an eagle adorned piece that looks as intimidating as it does cool. Sejic retains the skirt, giving it more of an emphasized armor look. Top this all off with leg plating and a decidedly more intimidating tiara, and you’ve got a Wonder Woman looks as tough as her fans know her to be.
1. SUPERBOY BY DADDYSCHLONGLEG
Since debuting in 1945, Superboy has struggled to find a distinct costume. He briefly rocked a memorable costume in the ’90s, before graduating to a simplified t-shirt and jeans combo. But the character has dropped off the face of the Earth with the launch of Rebirth. It’s about time for Superboy to make his grand re-entrance into the DCU, fresh costume and all.
Artist daddyshlongleg (hey, we don’t pick the names) cooked up a Superboy costume that pays homage to Conner’s classic duds, all while updating the costume into something new. The costume retains the classic Superboy bodysuit of the ’90s, while introducing a prominent gray and blue color scheme. Conner gets an updated hairdo, giving the character a more bratty look really befitting his age. If the OG Superboy should ever return to the DCU, DC may want to consider giving him a costume as cool as this one.
Which superhero costume would you redesign, and how? Let us know, as well as what your favorites are above, in the comments!
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