Several of your favorite heroes look like they’re wearing nothing at all. This sounds like a Ned Flandersian statement, but it’s just the consequences of being designed with a skin tight spandex leotard. But from time to time, your favorite superheroes have been known to don far less than even that leotard. While many designs as of late have opted for more realistic designs and proportions, including armored uniforms and more functional costumes. But this hasn’t always been the case, and quite a few character have opted to go au natural for their superhero adventures.
Obviously, not all of these are by choice, and some are the result of circumstances beyond control such as battle damage or imprisonment. Others are actually character-driven decisions, meant to highlight a state of mind or because a costume (or any type of clothing) just wouldn’t make sense. Regardless, these characters let it all hang out, for better or for worse. We only had one rule for this, and that was no comics of an adult nature; that would be cheating, after all. So with that in mind, here are 16 comic book characters who bared it all in the name of truth and justice.
This article contains content that is Not Safe For Work (obviously).
16 TONY STARK COLDCOCKS A SKRULL
Introduced in the pages of New Avengers, the Illuminati proved themselves to be behind quite a few Marvel Comics incidents. Forming shortly after the Kree-Skrull War, the combined prowess of Iron Man, Professor X, Black Bolt, Namor, Mr. Fantastic and Doctor Strange worked to keep global threats at bay, but their first encounter was nearly their last. Captured by a Skrull force after unsuccessfully threatening their king, the Illuminati are captured, alone, and not expecting a rescue.
Presumed weakest among them is Iron Man, stripped of his armor (which at the time also powered his heart) and left nude in a cell. It’s made worse when the Skrull captors try to assault Tony psychologically by disguising themselves as other Avengers. Tony more than proves his worth, though, handily defeating his captors completely nude thanks to combat training he received from Captain America.
15 BUFFY AND ANGEL KNOCK SUPERPOWERED BOOTS
Buffy The Vampire Slayer's comics follow-up was kind of weird when you get down to it. A giant Dawn, Xander leading a S.H.I.E.LD.-like army and Buffy eventually winding up with proper super powers. And when the scheming villain Twilight was revealed to actually be Angel, fans knew a reunion between the two was in the cards. And boy, what a reunion it was.
Buffy Season 8 #34 includes Buffy and Angel using superpowers to fly across the globe as they hook up for the first time in ages, destroying mountains and even taking off into space for a bit while the rest of the Scooby Gang exposits some backstory back at base. The reunion wasn’t meant to last, and these days Buffy has lasted up to Season 10, with Buffy and Spike rekindling their romance.
14 GIANT MAN’S NEKKID BEAT DOWN
The Ultimates found success by taking the most repulsive characteristics of Marvel’s Avengers and cranking them up to 11. Tony Stark became a raging alcoholic, Thor a boastful God, and The Hulk became a cannibal on his best day. There’s a lot of weird depictions here, but Hank Pym and Captain America may have gotten the most drastic reimaginings.
While Hank Pym has always been bastardized for his hitting Jan, Ultimate Hank was truly sadistic, attacking Jan with ants while she was shrunk. Steve Rogers, staunchly living in a different era, decided to defend Jan’s honor by beating the hell out of Hank. He eventually used his Giant Man powers to fight Steve, with his clothes shred and Hank being completely naked, but Steve managed to get the better of him, even breaking Hank’s jaw.
13 DAWN IS AS NAKED AS YOU WANT HER TO BE
Dawn’s an interesting character in her own right, in that for her nearly 30 years of existence there’s still not a lot known about her. Originally intended to just be pin-up art to put on covers, Dawn was fleshed out to eventually be the Goddess of Death and Rebirth, serving as a pseudo-narrator of several titles and appearing in a few of her own.
Dawn’s appearance is fairly consistent throughout: an outrageously attractive red head with three tears coming from her eyes. She also tends to appear very scantily clad, and often times nude. This doesn’t phase Dawn, though, as it’s not up to her. As part of her gimmick as a Goddess, Dawn takes on the appearance of whomever is viewing her, so she appears however a person wants her to appear... which is usually in some form of undress.
12 WOLVERINE DOESN’T NEED PANTS
Wolverine could probably make up this entire list. Thanks to his predilection for being blown up and recovering quickly with his healing factor, Wolverine’s clothes typically don’t last for very long. After all, he doesn’t have the mutant ability to regrow pants. Fortunately for him (and less fortunately for those who encounter him), Wolverine has evolved beyond things like humility.
The most notable time by far would be Wolverine’s Weapon X days, as demonstrated in the classic Marvel Comics Presents story Weapon X. Having been captured by Department H and experimented on, the Wolverine we know and love today was created through experimentation and a painful process to graft adamantium to his bones. This also included Logan being nude except for sensors and recording devices, and running around in the woods in such attire (or lack thereof).
11 ZARDA DIDN’T NEED CLOTHES FOR MILLENNIA
The Princess of Power hailing from Earth-31916, the bloodthirsty Zarda is an interesting character. For 2000 years, Zarda lay dormant in a tomb. Occasionally brought food by descendants of followers, she lay in wait until the day Hyperion fell in battle. And when the time came, the decrepit Zarda slew her remaining follower to regain her youthful vigor.
Zarda’s first appearance is a bit jarring, even for the already adult Supreme Power, itself an Ultimate riff on the Squadron Supreme. Zarda is fully nude when she leaves her tomb, and it doesn’t seem to register with or concern her, even as she spends the afternoon explaining to Hyperion her origins. She did eventually don a costume, but it certainly didn’t seem to be a priority. Zarda would later remain in the Ultimate Universe and died during the Incursion leading to Secret Wars.
10 SAVAGE DRAGON NEARLY SHAFTED BY GOD
Casual nudity isn’t much of a surprise in Erik Larsen’s long-running The Savage Dragon. There’s plenty of classic, salaciously depicted moments in the series’ 220+ issue run, from Dragon’s nightmare about fatherhood to crawling out of a giant monster’s stomach through the rear exit, or any number of times the seemingly unbeatable Dragon got blown up and had his clothes shredded -- it’s not a book afraid to get a little risque.
But perhaps no moment of Savage Dragon nudity is more notable than when Dragon went to hell. Accompanied by Spawn, Dragon is convinced he’s in a dream and having fun with the whole scenario right up until he runs into his nemesis, Overlord. What follows is an unforgettable encounter with God and Satan, who get into a fist fight. The following panels, including a stern warning from God to Dragon before sending him back to Earth, are the stuff of legends.
9 AMPHIBIAN IS A BLUE FISH LADY
Supreme Power is full of wild superpowered types, but perhaps none more exotic than Amphibian. A gender swap of the original Squadron Supreme’s Amphibian, this one is the abandoned daughter of an unnamed family. Upon her birth, Amphibian’s shocked mother collected the newborn and walked into the ocean, intending to kill them both. Instead Amphibian grew up the superpowered equivalent of a feral child.
Amphibian never wore clothes, aside from rare public appearances with the Squadron. Having grown up in the ocean, she had no use for them anyway. She formed a bond with the Squadron’s Dr. Spectrum shortly after a chance meeting that resulted in the death of two divers and served as a hero for some time before dying in the Incursion event leading up to Secret Wars.
8 HULK’S PANTS-LESS PANCAKES
Ultimate Bruce Banner was wildly different from his traditional counterpart. Insecure to a fault and recklessly seeking approval, Banner injected himself with a concoction of his Hulk formula and the Super Soldier formula with the intent of giving The Ultimates something to publicly fight. Banner’s new Hulk was violent, cruel and prone to acts of cannibalism.
Still, the Ultimate U got its share of fun Hulk stories, and Ultimate Hulk Annual may take the cake. Hulk turns up in a diner in Kansas completely nude, and all he wants is pancakes. He winds up duking it out with Zarda in a multi-page brawl. Memorable for the hilarity of Hulk’s nude antics as well as it's surprising ending, Ultimate Hulk demonstrated he had little time for things such as humility.
7 ELEKTRA’S HANDLER IS EXPOSED
Elektra has been portrayed as sexy and deadly simultaneously, especially after her death at Bullseye’s hands. Outright nudity, however, has never been something you see from her very often. This all shook up in a somewhat odd scene in 2001’s Elektra #3 when she confronted S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Stanley Dreyfuss completely nude and obscured by thick shadows.
This scene is actually notable for how it played out behind the scenes. Marvel evidently didn’t realize how the scene was playing out until after the book hit shelves and had it recalled after a short run. A reprinted copy was issued shortly after, with lingerie drawn on Elektra in the offending scene. The reprinted issue is fairly common, but the quick recall of the original version is astonishingly rare, making it a valuable collector’s item.
6 THE SPECTRE'S A STREAKER
The Spectre’s costume has always been a bit of an oddity when you think about it. Likely tied to his humanity, his costume has typically been a cloak and a pair of tiny green underwear, though admittedly he wore a Green Lantern uniform when he was bonded with Hal Jordan. Still, why? As the incarnate vengeance of God on Earth, what need does The Spectre have for clothes?
In a bit of a Doctor Manhattan-esque twist, The Spectre would agree at some point in the future. As depicted in Kingdom Come, The Spectre has long since dropped the green underwear, covering himself with only a green, hooded cloak. From a story perspective, Kingdom Come’s Spectre seems disillusioned with the world at large, only acknowledging his humanity again after his adventures with Norman McCay.
5 BABS RELEASES THE GIRLS TO GET HER GIRL
Heroine by night, librarian by day, Barbara Gordon’s depiction tends to go back and forth between incredibly sexy and vaguely mousy depending on who created the story. In one such story, Batman Confidential’s "The Cat and The Bat," Barbara is portrayed as gorgeous and busty, although still awkward in this retelling of her first encounter with Catwoman.
The story opens with Catwoman stealing a coded notebook belonging to Commissioner Gordon, with Barbara desperate to return it before he knows it’s missing. Where the story takes a suddenly weird turn is when Catwoman tries to elude Babs at the end of the first story by dashing into, naturally, the Gotham City Hedonistic Club. But Batman never gives up and Barbara resolves Batgirl won’t either, stripping down to just her mask and continuing her pursuit.
4 SHE-HULK FINDS STRIP SEARCHES MILDLY ANNOYING
Much like her cousin Bruce, She-Hulk finds destroying clothing to be a fairly constant problem. Unlike her cousin Bruce, this is less of a problem as she had control over her transformation until the recent Hulk series. Still, the bombastic She-Hulk found herself in many a compromising position over the years.
In one of her bigger solo adventures, taking place in Marvel Graphic Novel #18 (aptly titled The Sensational She-Hulk), She-Hulk is captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. and put through multiple strip searches by an agent she pissed off. He gets his in the end of the story, but She-Hulk spends a good portion of the story just trying to manage her clothing, and eventually winding up in a suit with an incredibly low neckline. Not She-Hulk's best showing, but in typical Shulkie fashion she doesn't let the hassle get her down.
3 LITTLE HERCULES IS A SUPPORTING CHARACTER
Hercules losing his clothes is something of a running joke. In Avengers Annual #17, where Hercules grows to mammoth proportions to defeat the High Evolutionary and is implied to be nude by fight’s end (admittedly a lot of the humor here is lost as Herc is implied to be dead, as well). Meanwhile, in Avengers #252, Herc’s tunic is blown apart by the Blood Brothers, something he doesn’t realize until he’s conversing with Captain America and Scarlet Witch later.
But Hercules’ problem here isn’t the nudity, it’s the mixed company. He only expresses concern for Lil’ Herc making an appearance because Wanda is around, and despite his party boy demeanor, Hercules is a gentleman. There’s also an instance in Avengers Academy of Hercules presenting himself nude for a lesson about the original Olympics, which he seems to be quite proud of.
2 STARFIRE IS PURELY BODY POSITIVE
Marv Wolfman and George Perez made a number of classic characters in their New Teen Titans run, and Starfire might be one of the most popular. There was a huge misstep with her characterization in The New 52, as a somewhat brainwashed Starfire was reduced to essentially a brainless sex kitten, but the traditional Starfire depiction is much more notable for how her sexuality is handled.
Starfire is traditionally a strong, independent woman who oozes body positivity. From the way she carries herself to her sexy yet restrained costumes, she’s been a positive icon for years and continues to be so to these days. She’s displayed little in terms of shame over her figure, though this created more than a few awkward interactions, especially her habit of sunbathing while living with Animal Man and his family in Countdown to Adventure.
1 DOCTOR MANHATTAN HAS THE BLUES
Of course, Doctor Manhattan is on the list. When you think of comic book characters who are defined by nudity, he’s the absolute top of the list. As one of the central figures of Alan Moore and David Gibbons’ classic Watchmen, Manhattan became a fan favorite over the years thanks to his tragic backstory and tired God persona. As part of his gimmick as a God who had grown weary, Manhattan is notably nude for the bulk of the story.
Originally he’s seen wearing a full body leotard that gradually shrinks over time. The uniform is symbolic of his connection to humanity, and as he grows to embrace Godhood and loses touch with those around him, one of the first things to change is he no longer sees a need for clothing. First-time readers may be a bit put off by Manhattan’s abrupt and unfiltered nudity, but as character traits go it’s a very important one.
Like the above characters with clothing, we left off a few key threads to this list (cough Hawguy cough). Help us fill in the holes with your naked picks in the comments section!