This story about the worst superhero costumes was contributed by a Hornet user through our Community Platform. You, too, can contribute stories to Hornet. Head here for more info on writing for us.
Before I start this list of the world’s worst superhero costumes, a few qualifiers: (1) This list includes male superhero and supervillain costumes only (this time). (2) I’m not including versions of costumes that heroes temporarily adopt. When a new artist starts a book, I feel like they are compelled to change the featured heroes’ costumes. Sometimes — often — for the worst. I’m looking at you, Azrael Batman, belly-shirt Thor, miniskirt Hawkeye and Cosmic Boy’s bustier.
And (3) I’m also not including costumes that followed the comic fads of any specific time period, like the extreme padding, pouches, chains and jacket-over-the-costume looks from the ’90s.
Now, welcome to the deep dive.
In no particular order, these are 10 worst superhero costumes (and worst supervillain costumes) in comic book history:
1. Killer Moth
Originally only identified by his prison number, this criminal read about Batman while incarcerated and decided he would set himself up as the anti-Batman. He used his own array of insect-themed gadgets, a moth-signal and Mothcave to assist criminals in eluding capture by the authorities.
While his inspiration wears the darker colors of his bat namesake, Killer Moth has a green antenna-ed helmet, a purple shirt, orange wings, gloves and trunks, a yellow belt and green-and-orange-striped leggings — you know, just like a real moth?
2. The Blob
Fred Dukes, the immovable mutant, first appears in X-Men #3 (1964). He worked in a freak show at the circus before the X-Men came calling to recruit him into their ranks. Spoiler alert, he refused and became a bad guy. His costume: fat guy in a speedo.
3. Crazy Quilt
Paul Dekker was a criminal artist who left hidden messages in his paintings that led to the hiding places of his stolen loot. He was betrayed by a henchman and suffered a gunshot wound that robbed him of his sight. To regain his vision, he accepted an experimental procedure to restore his ability to see. It worked, but he could only see properly in bright, disorienting colors, so he took up the new identity of Crazy Quilt.
Initially he had a run-in with the Newsboy Legion and, later, Robin the Boy Wonder. So really his criminal career consisted of him getting his ass handed to him by children. He wore a multicolored body suit with red shoulder pads, a white sash belt and gloves and a gold helmet with red, yellow and blue light projectors on the forehead … a real eyesore.
4. Mr. Terrific
Not to be confused with Michael Holt’s Mr. Terrific from more modern comics or Curtis Holt on The CW’s Arrow television show, the original Mr. Terrific debuted in Sensation Comics #1 in January 1942. (Fun Fact: Sensation Comics #1 marked the first cover appearance of Wonder Woman.)
Terry Sloan was a real Renaissance man. He was rich, had a photographic memory, was an Olympic-level athlete and a master of martial arts. He adapted the persona of Mr. Terrific to “stymie growing juvenile delinquency” — by donning a red bodysuit complete with masked cowl under a belted, green shirt-jacket with a shield on the front reading “FAIR PLAY.” The whole thing is finished off with brown boots with yellow roll-down cuffs … ooooooooof.
5. The Vanisher
Another character from the early days of the original X-Men, this teleporting mutant manages to commit a series of high-profile crimes and build a criminal empire before being stopped by the X-Men on the front lawn of the White House. All while being dressed as a cloud? A dandelion? A lumpy snake?
This guy is wearing a hood/wig of tufted material with a matching untucked tunic and pants of the same material, plus a cape. In his first appearance his costume was red and purple but was later changed to tones of green (a lateral move, at best), probably to differentiate him from fellow X-Men villain Magneto.
Upon review, this list has more than its fair share of Batman and X-Men foes … case in point, Signalman. Phil Cobb realized he needed a gimmick to hit it big in the Gotham City underworld, and taking inspiration from the Bat-Signal he became Signalman, the master of signals, signs and symbols.
Wearing a red body suit with yellow gloves, boots, yellow-and-black-striped trunks and a green belt, all topped off with a yellow cowl and yellow high-collared cap covered in random green symbols. Basically making him a signal to anyone with eyes, that symbol being that he’s in desperate need of the Queer Eye guys.
With a name like Chronos you’d think he’d have some kind of cool, time-based powers, right? Wrong. This longtime Atom villain started as a petty criminal who blamed his constant incarceration on bad timing, so he became obsessed with time, made a bunch of time-related weapons (think a clock with blades as hands) and put on one of the ugliest costumes in comics.
A green shirt, red trunks, yellow boots, gloves and belt … not done … a white, full-faced hood/mask and white leggings with black vertical stripes … still not done… with a high-collared, yellow cape. He looks like he could be the Vision’s troubled younger brother.
8. The Mole Man
Harvey Rupert Elder is an American nuclear engineer and explorer who — after being shunned for his ugly, dwarfish appearance and abrasive personality (think Danny DeVito without the charm) — travels below the surface of the Earth to become leader of Subterranea. (Subterranea being the underground kingdom of monsters, of course.)
This frequent Fantastic Four villain, despite being a ruler, wears a raggedy green boiler-suit covered in a raggedy green cape. So basically he’s wearing a trash bag over his trash bag … oh, and goggles, and he carries a gnarled, wooden staff.
9. Captain Ultra
Here’s a guy giving Crazy Quilt a run for his money in the “Most Clashing Colors in One Outfit” category. Plumber Griffin Gogol went to a psychiatrist to undergo hypnosis to cure him of his addiction to smoking, only the doctor turns out to be an alien who unlocks Griffin’s latent super-powers, because… yeah.
His abilities include superhuman strength, durability, reflexes and endurance, flight, X-ray vision, super breath, intangibility and the ability to tap his “ultra potential.” My guess is that he picked a different color to represent each power and wore them all at once.
10. The Red Bee
And finally, my favorite of all worst superhero costumes: the Red Bee. Assistant district attorney Rick Raleigh uses his athletic prowess, stinger gun and trained bees that he keeps in his belt (yep) to become the Red Bee and fight gangsters and Nazis. Fun fact: Red Bee’s favorite bee helper was named Michael (yep).
This fashionista wears a red, turtlenecked tunic, a red domino mask, blue boots and belt (where Michael lives), red-and-yellow-striped leggings and pink, nude illusion sleeves. Yaaasss!