Q & A 20: What is your favorite comic book character’s costume?

In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.

What is your favorite comic book character’s costume?


My husband is an artist and in fact a costume designer. Which means I look at costumes with a somewhat more critical eye than the casual observer. I think, “what does this SAY about the character? how does it fit into this person’s reality? could this outfit actually be achieved in real life? could she do THAT insane thing she just did and have an intact uniform at the end of it?” And perhaps because the answer to those last two questions is so often “no” and the answer to those first two questions is so often confused at best… I nitpick pretty much every costume out there. And while “favorite” is something other than “best,” it is still hard for me to pinpoint one I even really really like.

But there is one costume that has stood out in my mind since the first time I saw the page:

Sandman‘s Delirium, as I am certain surprises no one, is my favorite of the Endless. I love her impossible to mimic hair and her broken down baby doll style. I love the way she gains and loses color with her moods. I love her endless supply of quirky props. And in the above scan from The Wake everything comes together perfectly. The pink dress that’s just that bit too small makes me think of a birthday party and the fairy wings make me think of both Heaven and Halloween. For the story of her brother’s funeral and introduction, that is a deliriously consummate combination.


Some Q & A’s I can ramble on and on about, some are quick and easy. Jean Grey’s classic Phoenix costume is the best costume. It’s the jaunty and completely nonfunctional sash that makes the ensemble. Some people will tell you differently. They are wrong.


The actual definition of Wanda Maximoff’s mutant power has become more and more muddled with time: Does she just cause bad luck and misfortune, or are her hex bolts more powerful than that? Does she actually use magic, or is everything tied to her mutation? Can her hexes go so far as to rewrite reality itself?

But to me, the answer is obvious. Wanda Maximoff’s mutant power has nothing to do with magic or hex bolts. It is, rather, the uncanny ability to make red and purple-pink work together in the same outfit.

I love Wanda’s costume. I love it from its simplest incarnations, just a bathing suit with boots and gloves and cape and a crazy headpiece that looks like she cut it out of cardboard, to the more complicated skirts and corsets of her modern looks. I love the way her headpieces sit in her auburn curls, I love the way the colors balance each other, and I love the long, swirling cape. Is the costume practical? Not in the slightest. But it fits her powers and personality, it’s striking and iconic, and if I had the guts and the looks, I’d wear it myself.


Oh, god.

I tell people that my fashion sense was formed by John Romita, Jr.

I tell people that my fashion sense was locked down in 1982. I tell people this, and they look at me in my jeans and my t-shirts and my button-downs and they don’t get it, because that’s not how I dress. I tell people, and they don’t understand.

That’s not what I wear. No. It’s more shameful than that. That’s what I think is attractive on women. And my favorite costumes are probably Rogue’s ever-changing 1980s-wear.

I mean, who honestly thinks a full-body leotard and a half-jacket are hot? Who honestly thinks that a long-tailed mohawk is the height of fashion? Who, WHO thinks that those cuffed gloves and, and rolled-cuffed boots are sexy? And let’s not even ask who thinks those ripped-out sweatshirts look good on everybody.

Me, apparently. That would be me.

What about you? What is your favorite comic book character’s costume?

  • I have an irrational love of Nightwing’s Elvis does Vegas costume.

    You didn’t say *best* costume. You said favorite. And I love it in its wacky ridiculousness.

    (I’m also fond of the original Robin costume. Clearly, I have no taste.)

  • Caroline

    It’s funny that we all picked female costumes — I think if it had asked for best instead of favorite, I might have gone with Hal Jordan-Green Lantern or the Neal Adams Angel costume. But, well, I just wish I could pull off a sash like that. And I might have spent 10 minutes the other day staring at Jean’s legs and trying to figure out if those are tights or boots or WHAT. I guess unstable molecules explains it all.

  • Dan

    I’m probably one of the few people on the planet who will admit to liking Wolverine’s yellow-and-blue costume (or is it uniform?). But, hands down, the guy who has had the best costumes in comics–with one or two exceptions–is Havok.

    I also really dig the Robin costume that Tim started wearing after the One Year Later jump: the full-body red suit with the black scalloped cape. Nice!

  • Anika

    @Caroline Unstable molecules explains Carol’s tights/boots, too. I know I pay more attention to what women wear because I’m a woman – I think about if I would wear it.

    @Dan Haha, you do not want to get me started on costume versus uniform.

  • I’ve always really dug Spider-Woman’s costume. The Jessica Drew one that is. There’s just something in the way that it is designed that catches my attention. The color scheme and the little wings add something to it. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s always been a favorite of mine.

    I gotta agree with Dan though too. Havok’s costume has always been so simple and cool. He’s a close second.

  • Caroline

    @Robert Oooh, Spider-Woman is a great nominee. These are ALL great, really.

    @Anika There’s a whole riff on costume vs. uniform in Wolverine First Class this week. I’m not entirely convinced it makes sense but it’s the kind of thing that I always love to know people are thinking about.

    Now I’m kind of wishing I’d argued for Namor’s Speed-o. Ahh, well.

  • http://fc45.deviantart.com/fs26/f/2008/160/7/e/Cloak_and_Dagger_by_Jim_Lee_by_northchavis.jpg
    Dagger from Cloak and Dagger got me going in my younger years. Her costume is pretty incredible.

  • Anika

    @Dan and @Robert OK, seriously now, I love Havok. Love. But WHAT uniform are you talking about? All of them have the concentric circles which are nifty-glowy I suppose but without the glowy they are just circles. And he wears ridiculous headgear!!

    I love Havok. His current costume is OK. I wish it didn’t cover up his hair and it’s kinda a black bodysuit which is….I don’t know. Questionable. But really I can’t get over that headgear. Or the time he was just wearing threads and sleeping with Maddie….

  • Dan

    @Anika The costume Havok wore in Mutant X was cool in a basic black kind of way–no headgear: http://www.geocities.com/area51/chamber/8798/mutxhav.jpg

    I also really like the new one he’s wearing…I’m a sucker for that glowy Tron/circuit-board look.

    @Caroline Yeah, the costume vs. uniform debate didn’t make sense (I figured it would have been the other way around, honestly), but it was funny. Especially when Piotr chimed in with his two cents.

  • Anika

    @Dan Okay, that’s pretty subtle actually so I like it. Headgear: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v221/nvsblegrl/morexmen/polaris/havok.gif

    Just, no.

    And you two are making me want to see this Wolverine comic now.

  • handyhunter

    Danny Rand gets his costume tips from Jean Grey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IronFist.jpg), but he has to out-sash her, even in his current incarnation (http://images.wizarduniverse.com/WizardUniverse/Previews/PREV423/ironfist.jpg).

  • Caroline

    @handyhunter Danny Rand trivia: Danny has also gone through a period where his green costume turned red to indicate he was evil.

    I think I’m going to pretend, until it’s announced differently, that Matt Fraction’s new writing project is a flashback series set in the time period when Jean Grey and Misty Knight were roommates, and Misty/Danny had an off-and-on romance. And, umm, Jean and Danny shared costuming tips. To keep this on topic.

  • Twyst

    obviously, i love spider woman’s costume, but i love love love the military wear in house of m (especially jessica drew’s/queen veranke). i enjoy seeing what medusa is wearing when she is being ‘queenly’ as well, while i dont think they are my favourite, i always like seeing what it will be.

  • Agent00Soul

    My fave costume by a mile goes to Thor villaness Hela, at least as she looked in the 60s and 70s. Artists Jack Kirby and John Buscema creating entire dress codes for alien species is amazing enough to me considering neither had any fashion design experience. But Hela is a high-water mark. An instantly iconic and unforgetable image with the Vegas style head dress, Mardi Gras face mask, green cape with weird spider leg things on it, and strange symbols printed all over her shirt and trousers. Genius!