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Posted on Sep 30, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man’s Amazing Costumes

The Amazing Spider-Man’s Amazing Costumes

Spider-Man is one of our favorite superheroes of all-time. Marvel’s constant string of Spider-Man blockbusters has been immensely impressive, but there’s so much more Spider lore to be explored in the comic books. So, we thought it would be cool to take a look at all the different comic book iterations of Peter Parker’s classic costume.

Now, If you’re unfamiliar with Marvel’s numerous universes and timelines, well… it’s kind of a whole thing. We won’t get into it here. All you need to know is that Earth-616 is the mainstream Marvel universe, and these are the Spiderman costumes that have been worn by Peter Parker in that continuity. Cool? Cool.

For the quick rundown, click below to expand our Spiderman costume infographic. Otherwise, keep on scrolling for the long read.

Click to expand infographic

1. The Classic Red and Blue Spiderman Costume

First appeared: 1962, Amazing Fantasy #15spider-red-blue

This is the Spiderman costume that everyone knows and loves. If someone said to you, “Picture Spiderman,” you’d probably think of him wearing this. Naturally, it first appeared in Spiderman’s very first comic book, Amazing Fantasy #15, although it wasn’t the first costume Peter Parker ever wore to conceal his identity. When he first got his superpowers, Peter challenged local wrestling champ Crusher Hogan wearing a simple sweat suit and crude balaclava.

This costume has been through countless minor and major design tweaks through the years, mostly due to the influence of all the artists that have worked on the franchise. For example, in its original form, the red and blue costume had actual spider webs spanning Peter’s torso and arms. The spider emblem has varied in shape and size, as have the webbing pattern and other features. But to simplify things, we’re just putting them all under one red and blue umbrella.

One notable variation is the Superior Spider-Man suit, which was worn by the reformed Otto Octavius after having his mind swapped into Peter Parker’s body. The blue was replaced by black, and the suit got quite a few technological upgrades as well, in the form of retractable talons, HUDs in the mask lenses, communication devices, and mechanical spider arms.

We could write a whole other article about the 24 Peter Parkers in Marvel continuities other than the mainstream universe that have worn variations of this suit, but the Spiderman Wiki does a pretty good job of that already (and we still have eleven more to get through as it is over here).

2. The Six-Armed Spiderman Costume

First appeared: 1971, Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #1016armsspiderman

Okay, so this one is technically just another variation of the red and blue costume, but it does have the distinction of being the first new Spiderman costume to appear in the Amazing Spider-Man comic series. It comes up in the three-issue “Six Arms Saga.” The gist is that Peter Parker starts blaming himself for things going wrong in his life, and wants to be rid of his Spiderman powers. He concocts a serum to remove them, but it ends up having an amplifying effect instead and gives him four extra arms. Whoops.

Out of necessity, Peter has to modify his Spiderman costume to accommodate his additional appendages while he beats up Morbius, the Living Vampire. With help from Dr. Curtis Connors, Peter is able to return to normal.

So, as far as Peter Parker is concerned, the Six-Armed Costume was pretty much a one-off. But, it does reappear later in the franchise. The villain Doppelganger is a mindless clone created from Spiderman’s DNA (which sort of makes him kind of like Peter… we think) who happens to have six arms. Unlike Peter’s makeshift tailoring job, he actually does have a legitimate six-sleeved, six-gloved costume to match.

3. The Symbiote Spiderman Costume

First appeared: 1984, Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #252symbiotecostume

During an epic Battleworld fight that took place in the pages of the Secret Wars series, many Marvel superheroes’ costumes get torn to shreds. Hulk points Spidey in the direction of a machine that he can use to repair his suit, but he mistakenly uses the wrong one. The machine that he gets into houses the Symbiote, which merges with Peter and takes the form of a black costume.

The new suit seemed to make Peter faster and stronger than ever before, as if it was amplifying his superpowers. The costume also had the added perk of being able to supply an unlimited amount of webbing, and it could even change its physical form in response to Peter’s thoughts. But, wearing the suit was also draining Peter’s energy.

Since clothes shouldn’t usually be physically exhausting, Peter went to seek help from his friend and ally, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. It was revealed that the black suit was actually a living alien creature, which was taking control of Peter’s body while he slept.

This brings us to…

4. The Amazing Bag-Man Costume

First appeared: 1984, Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #258amazingbagman

Once Peter found out about the true nature of his black costume, he didn’t exactly want it on him anymore (would you?). Reed was able to remove it from Peter’s body using a powerful sound wave generator, given the alien creature’s weakness to sound and heat. The Symbiote was then sealed in a protective case. (It eventually escaped and turned Eddie Brock into Venom, but that’s a story for another blog.)

Of course, now Peter was left without a costume to conceal his identity. Fortunately, the Fantastic Four had a spare jumpsuit handy that he could borrow in the meantime. Unfortuantely, the Fantastic Four weren’t exactly big on masks. Johnny Storm, always the ultimate troll, gave Peter a paper bag with some eyeholes for the trip home. For good measure, he stuck a “Kick Me” sign on Peter’s back, too. Classic Storm.

On the way home, Peter made use of his new costume by stopping a shoot-out in progress and taking down a few common street thugs. He was able to swap back into his old suit once he got home, but another wardrobe malfunction in Spectacular Spider-Man #158 required the use of a paper bag mask once again. This time, Peter called himself the “Bombastic Bag Man,” with tongue firmly in-cheek.

5. The Black Spiderman Costume

First appeared: 1985, Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1 #99blacksuit-spec101

It looks just like the black Symbiote suit, but it’s not. This version of the Spiderman costume is simply made of black cloth, just made to mimic the look of the Symbiote. Felicia Hardy, Peter Parker’s girlfriend at the time and the hidden identity of Black Cat (basically Marvel’s version of Catwoman, for the uninitiated) made it for Peter after he had to get rid of the Symbiote.

For a while, Peter used his shiny new black suit and his old red and blue one interchangeably, but the red and blue one was eventually destroyed, causing him to swap to the black one full-time. It would remain his main suit for about the next four years in the comics.

This lasted until Eddie Brock, now transformed into Venom via the Symbiote, attacked Peter’s wife, Mary Jane. After that happened, she made Peter give up the black suit, since it reminded her too much of the incident, and Peter went black to blue and red. The black suit was still used as an emergency backup for Peter, and made a couple more substantial, yet temporary, returns in 2007’s Back in Black and 2010’s The Gauntlet events.

6. The Cosmic Spiderman Costume

First appeared: 1989, Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1 #158cosmic-spiderman

This one only appeared in a single, short story arc, so there’s not a whole to say. A laboratory accident bestows Peter Parker with the cosmic energy of Captain Universe, transforming his costume and granting him a whole new set of powers.

Cosmic-infused Spidey has tremendously enhanced Spider Sense, stemming from Captain Universe’s Uni-Vision (not the Spanish TV network, but a sort of omniscient consciousness that lets the bearer sense the most minute details at great distance). He can also manipulate matter and divert energy, allowing flight, and the costume itself protects against extreme temperatures and allows space travel.

If you’re wondering what would have happened had Spider-Man retained his cosmic powers, Marvel addressed this possibility in What If? Vol. 2 #31. You can read the synopsis here on the Marvel Wiki, which includes the sentence, “Peter punches Thor into space and they battle.”

Awesome.

7. Spider-Armor MK I

First appeared: 1993, Web of Spider-Man Vol. 1 #100spider-armor-mk1

Now we’re getting serious.

The supervillain stable known as the New Enforcers attacked New York City, packing machine guns and high-powered rifles. So, Spider-Man needed a little extra firepower of his own to take them out. Peter Parker’s passion for chemistry came up big-time once again, as he was able to create a suit of armor for himself out of a custom metallic compound

Given that the suit was made of metal, it slowed Peter down considerably in battle. He lost the ability to outrun and outfox opponents with pure agility, but he also gained the ability to not get shot in the face, which is way more important. Bulletproof Spider-Man prevailed in his efforts, but he lost the armor in the process, as it became destroyed by acid.

Even though Peter only wore the suit for a single battle, it’s a favorite among fans, and Marvel’s given it plenty of cameos and other appearances. For example, in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Peter meets an alternate-universe version of himself that still has the armor. The armor has also appeared in several Spider-Man video games as an unlockable costume.

8. The Iron Spider Costume

First appeared: 2006, Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #529iron-spider-armor

It took more than a decade for Marvel to create the next new Spider-Man costume but they did it in a big way – this thing is just gorgeous.

The Civil War event saw the collectivity of Marvel superheroes divide into factions and go to war with each other over differing opinions on the Superhuman Registration Act. If passed, the Act would require public registration of people with superpowers in the United States. Iron Man led the pro-registration side, and Captain America led the anti-registration side.

To get Spider-Man on his side, Tony Stark used his company’s technology to revive Peter Parker after a fatal battle with Morlun. He also created a new set of Spider-Man armor for Peter to use. The armor boasted several enhancements, aside from the Iron Man-inspired color scheme: mechanical spider arms, gliding abilities, holographic HUD lenses, and way more that can be listed here.

Spider-Man relinquished the armor upon defection to Captain America’s faction, but the armor still exists in the comics. Stark upgraded its capabilities even more, and it’s currently worn by the Scarlet Spider, Michael van Patrick.

9. The Stealth Suit

First appeared: 2011, Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #650spider-stealth-suit

For the first time ever, Peter Parker gained the ability to become completely invisible. He created this suit in order to fight the Hobgoblin, a supervillain with intense sound projection abilities. Normally, his screams are totally debilitating, allowing him to defeat opponents easily. So, Peter engineered a suit that would warp sound waves around it, rendering him impervious to the sonic assault. The costume bends lights around the wearer as well, allowing for invisibility.

The suit was later transferred to Kaine Parker, one of the past iterations of the Scarlet Spider. He used the suit’s stealthy abilities to defeat the Spider-Queen, and he still has possession of the suit today.

10. The Future Foundation Suit

First appeared: 2011, FF Vol. 1 #1spider-man-ff-suit

The Future Foundation, for those unfamiliar, is a superhero collective formed by Reed Richards, after the dissolution of the Fantastic Four. Disillusioned by the way scientists seem to cause more problems than they solve, his aim was to bring together a team of young and free-thinking heroes to find solutions to problems in new ways.

Spider-Man was not an original member of the team; rather, he replaced Human Torch upon the latter’s death. To match the rest of the Future Foundation’s snazzy white threads, he got a new costume as well. Spiderman’s Future Foundation costume is made of Unstable Molecules, which gives it some unique properties.

Clothing made of Unstable Molecules mimics the wearer’s abilities. In the case of Spider-Man, it allows him to create an unlimited supply of webbing, much like the Symbiote suit did. The suit is also self-healing and self-repairing, and can totally shift in appearance letting Spider-Man effortlessly change between his superhero costume and his regular street clothes.

11. Spider-Armor MK II

First appeared: 2011, Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #656spider-armor-mk-2

Three new Spider-Man costumes in one year? Marvel, you spoil us.

Much like the original Spider Armor was created to combat a specific foe, the Spider-Armor MK II was created to fight Massacre. Peter had lost his Spider Sense in the Revenge of the Spider-Slayer event a few issues prior, and was otherwise relatively powerless against the villain.

To compensate for his lack of Spider Sense, Peter had been taking intense kung-fu and martial arts training, but the armor was needed to bolster his durability. It’s not entirely bulletproof, like the metallic MK I armor, but it can deflect bullets at range and withstand explosive impacts up close. It also lets Peter retain his agility, and it shoots a new type of magnetic webbing that can block or scramble radio and satellite transmissions.

After its use, it’s not explicitly explained what happened to the suit. It was probably destroyed in the fire that destroyed Horizon Labs, where the suit was created.

12. Spider-Armor MK III

First appeared: 2011, Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #682spider-armor-mk-3

The final suit of Spider-Man armor, and the final Spider-Man costume, is probably the most epic of all of them. After the MK II, fans wanted more armor, so Marvel essentially gave Peter Parker a personal tank to fight in.

Peter created the suit as a last resort option, only to be used if it was ever completely necessary. Doctor Octopus’ final master plan, which involved speeding up the greenhouse effect to roast the earth alive, required such a measure.

The suit was designed with features in mind specifically to counter the abilities of the Sinister Six:

  • A holographic visor neutralizes the illusions created by Mysterio.
  • A repellant field negates the powers of Electro.
  • The suit is durable enough to withstand hits from Rhino.
  • The suit can control Sandman’s form by wirelessly communicating with the “queen bee” sand particle in his body.
  • A hearing device in the helmet is permanently locked on to Chameleon’s heartbeat, rendering his camouflage useless.
  • Custom software in the suit can hack and control Doctor Octopus’ Octo-Bots.

Oh yeah, it can also fly with a pair of built-in jet boosters. Think that’s enough?


What’s your favorite Spider-Man costume? Have you ever dressed up like Spider-Man or another superhero for Halloween? If you liked this post and want to see more like it, let us know! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to share your thoughts, or shoot us an email. Remember to check out our Halloween costume ideas on Pinterest, too.


All Marvel Comics characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © 1941-2014 Marvel Characters, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Header image credit: “New York City at night HDR” By Paulo Barcellos Jr. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulobar/230134559/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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