Scientifically speaking, hair is just made of a secretion known as keratin and dead skin cells. Yet it’s so much more than that, isn't it? We style it, we dye it, we spend tons of money to make it grow back when it falls out. It's part of our identity, and in comics, it does a lot for a character: it makes them identifiable, and it can even make them iconic.
Hairstyles play an important role in character design, especially in comics. A comic book character’s hairstyle has to be cool, unique, distinct and make the character recognizable in any outfit. Some comics characters wouldn’t be who they are without their classic hairstyles, because that's much their hair has become iconic. Which comic hairstyles are among the greatest? In no particular order, here’s CBR’s take on the most iconic hairstyles in comics.
The Queen of the Inhumans' hair might not have much of a style to it, but it would have been a crime to leave out a character who's power is controlling her super-strong hair. Well, more specifically, she has a psionic field around her hair follicles that allow her to mentally manipulate the strands, but that’s a bit of a semantic mouthful. Regardless, Medusa’s powerful mane is one of comics most iconic, and most powerful hairstyles.
Able to do everything from lifting to binding things, to making what are basically Green Lantern constructs out of her hair, Medusa is definitely a follicle force to be reckoned with. Her Inhuman metabolism might give her increased abilities, but Medusa’s strongest trait is her prehensile hair. Plus, with how strikingly beautiful her six-foot-long locks make her, it's not hard to see why she’s the queen of the Inhumans. But don't let her beauty fool you, this queen can slay.
14 RAMONA FLOWERS
Scott Pilgrim’s lovely hipster girlfriend is known for changing her hair "like every two weeks," so its hard to pin her down to one style. Regardless, Romona Flower’s ever-changing locks are easily recognizable amongst comic fans, evoking the colorful short styles of the early 2000’s that were, and still are, popular amongst the indie and punk music scenes. Ramona’s various hairstyles give her an indie-chick vibe that fits perfectly into Bryan Lee O’Malley’s musically influenced modern classic.
Perhaps the most recognizable of Ramona’s many looks is the hairdo she sported the first time Scott saw her. Pictured above, Romona’s premier hairstyle is pink and cropped in most places, with long sides in front of the ears. This look was so alluring to Scott that he asked around a party for the girl with “hair like this” as he used his fingers to imitate Romona’s side-locks. Luckily, his half-witted attempts paid off and he got to stalk Ramona for the rest of the party. How romantic.
13 THE JOKER
The Joker may not have exactly asked for his hairstyle, but the clown prince of crime sure wouldn't look the same without his signature acid-green hairdo. Though the canonicity of Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” is brought into question at times, it’s really the only explanation there is behind The Joker’s appearance. In the book, The Joker gets his “good looks” from falling into a vat of acid that bleaches his skin snow-white and dyes his hair a disgusting shade of neon green.
Regardless of the origins, The Joker is never seen without his green hair, which is almost always slicked back and/or tousled in some way or another. Without his hairstyle, The Joker just wouldn't be as intimidating. It’s the clownish appearance that makes his psychotic killing sprees all the more sinister. Then again, it couldn't hurt to see what he’d look like in a bright rainbow wig…
12 NORMAN AND HARRY OSBORN
It’s… it’s just so horrible. The Osborne hair, a very strong family trait, evidently, is just so indescribable. Is it sideways cornrows? Is it really tight curls? Is it cut shorter in little strips? It just raises so many questions. Maybe it’s why Norman strived so hard to be successful; he had to prove to people he was more than just his weird hair. No? Nobody wants to jump on to that fan theory train? Alright, fair enough. One thing’s for sure though, Norman and Harry Osborne sure have some iconically ugly hairstyles. There’s at least some hope for Harry, since he didn't get his father’s disturbing middle part, but its not much of an improvement.
The worst part has to be that it's cut so short, it leaves so much to the imagination. If this is how bad their hair looks when its buzzed, what does it look like when it grows out?! Does… does it grow out into square dreads? Or maybe like a weird red fluffy arch? Whatever it is, the Osborn boys definitely have some hideous hair. What started as an artist's shorthand for tight curls eventually evolved into a strange, strange hairstyle. But you gotta hand it to them, at least the Osborn hair is recognizable.
11 ASTRO BOY
Most might not know that the iconic anime style (big eyes, crazy hair, etc.) are all thanks to Walt Disney, or rather, the inspiration that manga artist Osamu Tezuka gained from Mickey Mouse and other Disney cartoons, as seen in his most famous creation, Astro Boy. Pictured above, it’s easy to see similar design patterns between the two characters. Astro Boy's iconic titanium spikes look the same from all directions, much like Mickey's ears. Even their eye shapes and color balance are similar. The inspiration eventually came full circle when Disney “borrowed” from Tezuka’s "Kimba: The White Lion" when creating "The Lion King."
The "Astro Boy" Manga debuted in 1951 and the character has since gone down in history as one of Japan's most iconic characters. Throughout his many different incarnations, Astro's costume has gone through some changes, but one thing has remained constant is his signature hairstyle. The spikes, which are apparently made of metal, jut straight out in opposite directions and make even his silhouette instantly recognizable, and would go on to inspire many famous manga artists following in Tezuka's footsteps.
Starfire's hair has gone through a couple of styles, but has always been consistently voluminous, red and on fire. Well, on fire might not be the best way to put it, since the Tamaranean's fiery mane is actually a manifestation of the ultraviolet rays she absorbs and converts to energy. It's never really been confirmed if it helps her fly or if its just the excess energy she burns off. Either way, this alien bombshell has got one unique hairstyle.
Starfire's hair is at its greatest, and perhaps fluffiest, when the alien Titan is flying. When Starfire is airborne, the end of her luxurious locks explode outwards into a flurry of ultraviolet flame energy. It's always cool when super-powered characters have their hair incorporated into their powers, and Starfire is a great example of that. Her explosive mane has remained consistent for decades, changing only slightly with different artists' interpretations. They say redheads are fiery, but this is just ridiculous.
9 YUGI MUTO (YU-GI-OH!)
Hoo boy, where to even start with this one? Guess it's best to go by colors? Let's see, theres the front, which has lightning bolt-like blonde strands, then theres the back, which is black with magenta highlights, and sort of crown shaped? Well, he is supposed to be the king of games, right? Manga is already infamous for laws-of-physics-breaking hair, but Yugi Muto's hairstyle has to be the most ridiculous of them all. The best part has to be whenever they show the Egyptian pharaoh that Yugi is the reincarnation of (yes, you read that right), and he has the exact same hair, it's magnificent.
"Yu-Gi-Oh!" was created by Kabuki Takahashi and ran in Shonen Jump magazines from 1996 to 2004. Throughout the manga's run, Yugi is rarely shown at an angle that reveals just exactly how his hair works. The only real answer comes in the form action figures and statues, which reveal that there is a third layer to this crazy hairdo, and the purple sheen extends back into even more spikes. The manga should focus less on card games and should just be about scientists studying the secrets of Yugi Muto's manic mane.
8 PROFFESSOR X
Does no hair at all count as a hair-style? It does when you're as iconic a character as Professor Charles Xavier. What is it about a bald head that goes so well with psychic powers? Whatever it is, the Prof works it well. He's got some pretty decent looks to go with his sleek, shiny, and somewhat dashing dome. And luckily, he didn't get one of those weird psychically enlarged brains. Nope, Ol' Chuck keeps it simple with his bald head and tasteful suits.
The Leader of the X-Men has rocked the chrome dome look since his first appearance in September of 1963. His lack of hair is apparently the result of his mutation speeding up his genetic predisposition for male pattern baldness. Professor X's bald head has to be one of the more iconic ones in comics, because it is somehow instantly recognizable among the many other bald characters in comics no matter which artist is drawing him.
There was a time in the 90's when a lot of superheroes went through a mullet phase, and Superman was, sadly, one of those heroes. Luckily, he eventually returned to his signature slicked tousled look, and even during the dreaded mullet phase, he still retained the most iconic part of his hairstyle: the spit curl. These loose hair strands with a somewhat unfortunate name have been laying on Supes' head since almost the very beginning.
Perhaps the reason the spit curl is so iconic, and important, is because it's what separates Superman from Clark Kent. In some iterations, Superman also changes the part of his hair, but the main difference is that Superman has the spit curl, but Clark Kent does not. Clark Kent is neat kept, a bit clumsy and bumbling, but at least he keeps his hair nice and tidy. Superman is an adventurer of sorts, rocking a tousled hairstyle that evokes the look of action heroes and explorers of pulp comics in the 30's and 40's. Even through various iterations and designs of Superman, the spit curl, or some form of it, has remained a constant.
There sure are a lot of redheads in comics, huh? One of the most famous redheads doesn't have the kind of popularity that superheroes get, but can still be considered a comic book icon. It's Archie Andrews, the lovable, clumsy, heartthrob of Riverdale. Until the recent reboot, Archie Andrews has had the exact same haircut since the 40's, a poofy middle part and waffle-ironed-looking sides. This hairstyle, along with his signature freckles, Archie is perhaps one of the most recognizable faces in pop culture history.
Even with the recent reboot, a remnant of Archie's classic do is still around. The aforementioned waffle-ironed-look still lingers on the sides of this new-aged Archie's head. Of course, it's a lot more subtle depending on the artist, but it's a nice nod to the character's roots. Even if you've never read an "Archie" comic in your life, his face and signature hairstyle are instantly recognizable. It's too bad that illustrated hair doesn't always work in real life, since seeing a waffle-haired KJ Apa on "Riverdale" would sure be something.
Pixie cut, punk spikes, long and straight; Rogue has gone through a lot of hairstyles in her career. But the one thing that everyone recognizes about the Southern belle X-Woman is her signature white streaks. There's some debate surrounding the origins of Anna Marie's streaks, but one thing is clear, the power-stealer has never been seen without them.
Rogue's most recognizable style has to be the jacket, spandex, and poofy hair look, which was designed by Jim Lee. Besides arguably being the best, and definitely being the longest worn, costume in Rogue's history, this look gave her a huge fluffy mane that carried over into the 90's X-Men animated series. The costume also included a green headband that helped keep Rogue's voluminous fluffy hair out of her face and flowing about. Rogue's iconic white streaks are not only a cool character design aspect, but also the two-toned hair look would go on to inspire many other character designs in comics history.
4 SAILOR MOON
Fighting evil by moonlight and winning love by daylight, it's everyone's favorite magical girl, Sailor Moon. There's a lot to love about Sailor Moon's design, but perhaps the strongest trait is her twin mini-buns and long, flowing pig-tails. Heck, her hair is even incorporated into her name, Usagi. In Japanese, Usagi means "bunny," which is fitting since Sailor Moon's long locks are more reminiscent of a bunny's ears than a pig's tail. In fact, it's a wonder that no one recognizes Usagi as Sailor Moon, since no one else in Japan seems to have this hairstyle.
The best part about Sailor Moon's signature hairstyle is that it gets incorporated into her costume; circular jewels appear on her mini-buns and wings manifest just above her bangs. Sailor Moon has a hairstyle that's so iconic that even the most novice of convention-goers can recognize her twin tails on cosplayers from a mile away.
Wolverine is pretty much everyone's favorite X-Men, and who could blame them? He's a stocky, gruff, hard-drinking, hairy Canadian with razor-sharp claws on his hands. What's not to love? His costume, in its many iterations, is pretty iconic as well, but perhaps not as iconic as his hair. His hair, messy but short, long sides that shoot up and back like an animal's mane is probably the most recognizable hair in American comic books. The coolest trait has to be that is that his hair mimics the shape of his costume's mask, which is a strange, but awesome trait. Was the mask modeled after his hair or does he cut his hair to look like his mask? Nobody knows.
Wolverines animalistic hair, complete with his signature muttonchops, have gone through some subtle changes over the years. Some artists draw it cleaner and short, others longer and more wild, but for the most part, the upward side-spike look has been a constant in the character's history. Wolverines deadliest trait might be his adamantium claws, but his most iconic trait has to be his beastly bangs.
A design that’s derivative of Astro Boy’s titanium spikes, Son Goku of "Dragon Ball Z" and his crazy hairstyle were created by manga artist and series creator Akira Toriyama. Goku has perhaps the most recognizable hair in all of manga, one that has stayed the same length and style since the character's birth. The strange, impossible shape has an iconic look that even non-anime fans recognize immediately, and it only gets crazier from there, as the Saiyan's hair changes with his raising power levels.
Goku’s Super Saiyan form first premiered in the 318th chapter of Dragonball, shocking Japan with his glowing golden spikes. Of course, that isn't even the most ridiculous Goku’s hair has gotten. Over the many chapters of Dragonball, Goku has achieved two further levels of Super Saiyan transformations, both of which result in absolutely ridiculous and awesome hairstyles. Super Saiyan level 2 sees Goku’s hair getting even spikier and even more upwards. Then, there's Super Saiyan 3. Not only does Goku’s hair, stilly rigid and spiky, grow down to his waist, but his eyebrows also seemingly disappear off the face of the earth. Hard to beat that kind of style. Crazy and weird? Maybe. Iconic and awesome? Definitely.
1 STORM'S MOHAWK
Like most X-Men who have been around a while, Storm has gone through a lot of style changes, usually correlating with popular fashions of various decades. While the mutant weather witch’s white hair has always looked badass, perhaps her most memorable style was the mohawk she sported in the 80’s. The punk rock look premiered in the pages of “Uncanny X-Men” #173 and came about from a hair loss that the character experienced prior to the issue.
Artist Paul Smith described the look as a "A bad joke gone too far," that he presented the design as an extreme opposite of the others he had in mind. In fact, of the design he says, "As a joke, I included a shot of her as Mr. T." Despite it starting as a joke, Storm’s punk look gained popularity amongst fans, and the mohawk has made resurgences over the years. In fact, Storm is currently rocking the ‘hawk in the pages of "Extraordinary X-Men."
Which iconic comic book hairstyles do you feel we left off the list? Be sure to sound off in the comments!