When government agents Richard and Mary Parker were killed by a foreign spy they were investigating, they left their only son Peter to be raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben in Queens, New York. Growing up, Peter showed a great aptitude for science, especially in engineering and chemistry. By the time he was an adolescent, Peter had already gained the notice of a few scientists, including Norman Osborn (who would later become the villain known as the Green Goblin). At the age of fifteen, Peter was attending a demonstration on radiation when a glowing spider bit him and then died of radiation poisoning.
Peter felt sick but minutes later he realized he now had superhuman strength, agility and dexterity. He could cling to surfaces through molecular attraction and now possessed an extrasensory danger-sense or “spider-sense” that warned him of hidden and oncoming threats. It’s not known exactly whether his mutation was due to the spider’s radioactive blood or if there was something extraordinary about the spider to begin with and the radiation had simply poisoned it. Either way, Peter now had incredible power and used it to begin a career as a television stuntman, wearing a colorful costume as he performed incredible feats for live audiences. To complete the spider motif, Peter used a special adhesive he’d designed (which always dissolved after an hour) that could be fired from wrist-worn “web-shooters.”
Over the next few months, Peter grew arrogant and self-absorbed. When a thief robbed the studio’s payroll, he ignored the criminal, saying it wasn’t his job to get involved. Weeks later, the same thief robbed Peter’s home and shot his uncle. Peter helped apprehend the burglar, shocked that his actions weeks earlier could have prevented his uncle’s death later on. Realizing that great power brings great responsibility, Spider-Man left his TV career behind and dedicated himself to hunting down criminals and protecting all life, no matter how much it cost him in the process.
Over the years, Spider-Man has become a formidable superhero and has served alongside most of Earth’s champions. Currently, he fights evil not only on his own but also as a member of the Avengers, working with people such as Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Wolverine. He’s been to other dimensions and planets, has traveled through time, and has faced off against aliens, terrorists, mobsters, super-villains, sorcerers and demons. He’s suffered horrible tragedies and has lost many loved ones, but he’s also seen victory and he knows that giving up would be selfish. There’s always tomorrow and he’s always ready to laugh and hope that things will turn out all right in the end.
Got it? Good. Now let’s take a look at his web-slinging ensemble!
When Peter first got his powers, he decided to field test them by joining a wrestling competition. He threw on an old turtle neck and some well-worn pants, along with a thin, sheer mask that blurred his features. Decades later, a re-telling of the origin by Stan Lee and Peter David years later would say that the mask was actually some pantyhose that Parker put over his head.
This is, by no means, a costume nor should it be judged as one. But it involves Peter using a masked identity and it’s seen so often in flashbacks, I felt like we had to include it.
In the alternate universe of Ultimate Marvel, Peter’s proto-suit was a bit different and was meant to foreshadow his later costumed identity. I especially like the goggles foreshadowing Spidey’s signature eye-pieces.
In Ultimate Marvel, Peter enjoyed a short career as a professional wrestler and the guy who ran the joint had a costume made for him. After Ultimate Marvel Peter left wrestling behind and became a crime-fighter, he apparently sewed on web-lines and spider symbols, thus turning this suit into the classic outfit we will discuss in the next section. Since this suit was designed only as a proto-type of the real costume, it’s hard to judge it on its own, except to say that I find it odd a wrestling circuit would have anyone dressed in such a plain fashion. There are no tiger stripes or garish colors or silly cape. This seems rather tame as far as wrestler costumes go.
But let’s get on to the real thing.
THE ORIGINAL AND STILL CLASSIC SUIT
In the mainstream comics, after wowing people at the wrestling arena, Peter gained the attention of agent Max Schiffman who immediately began booking him as a TV stunt performer, entertaining late night show audiences with his superhuman abilities. Of course, Pete needed a flashy outfit if he was going to have such a career and so he put together the snazzy spider suit we all know and love, adding mirrored eye-lenses not only to protect his orbs but to keep anyone from seeing his eyes and realizing he was only a teenager. This suit graced the cover of Amazing Fantasy #15 (August, 1962), the same book that introduced our web-slinging hero to the world.
This outfit becomes his superhero uniform, yes, but Spider-Man’s intention in the story is to basically have a career as a highly-paid performer doing stunts and feats that no circus could match. He wants to look cool and fun and memorable rather than intimidating or threatening. It’s also got to be a practical suit for his purposes. Belts and capes could hamper her acrobatics and thick boots or gloves could interfere with his wall-crawling. Like any acrobat or gymnast, he’s leaving himself as sleek as possible.
Of course, Spider-Man did actually wear a belt beneath his costume, a very thin one that held his spare web-cartridges so he could refill his web-shooters when he didn’t have time to go all the way back home to collect more web-fluid. This belt first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #2 and Peter deliberately made it thin enough that it could slip beneath his shirt without interfering with his movements.
After a couple of adventures, Peter also installed a small spider-spotlight into the belt so he could shine it on criminals he felt like freaking out or so that he could announce his presence to folks while keeping his distance. And a compartment was built into the belt for Spidey to carry the camera that would later earn him a living as a photojournalist.
This is one of the most interesting costumes in comics. We forget that I think, since many of us grew up with it. I first saw the web-slinger on the television cartoon Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends and by the time I picked up a comic I just took his outfit for granted. But looking at it now, I’m not quite sure how Steve Ditko thought of such a design, one that was unique for the time. Although red and blue are standard super-hero colors, Ditko gave Spidey a red and black look with blue coloring to show depth.
But when Spidey returned to comics months later in his own series, Ditko was already giving up on inking large black areas and just letting it be blue. The cover of Amazing Spider-Man #1 (March, 1963) made it look like he was wearing blue rather than black with blue highlights. And the second story contained in that issue seemed to follow suit for the most part, starting with the opening page which is pictured above. This color scheme followed into the next issue and was on its cover as well, making it the standard even though Ditko would still sometimes color the web-spinner red and black in a few panels here and there, particularly if the hero was in shadow or seen from a distance.
Many folks didn’t notice since several had already mistaken the original blue shading as an indication that the costume was red and blue anyway, similar to how many kids in the 60s honestly believed that Superman had blue hair back because of how artists highlighted it. Over the years, artists who’ve depicted scenes from Amazing Fantasy #15 in flashback nearly always color the outfit worn at that time as red and blue as well, leading many to consider that Spidey has “always” looked this way.
Let’s first talk about these things under Spidey’s arms, though. Web design on the outfit itself apparently wasn’t enough for Ditko, as he’s added this web-like netting at Spidey’s sides. I think it’s actually a cool idea, but the problem is they’re so large that they border on silly. You may as well call them web-wings.
But what is their deal? From a design stand point, they don’t really work. They say “webs” but so does the rest of his costume, so they come off as repetitive. And while I’m not obsessed with practicality, I don’t completely ignore it either, which means I’m forced to wonder if someone who’s doing as many somersaults and high-speed back-flips as the heroic wall-crawler would actually be hindered by such large things stretching from his forearms to his waist. They don’t help him glide or anything, they’re literally just for show. A bit weird. Fashion is as much about editing things down as it is about throwing cool, new ideas onto the board. Sometimes you have to say, “You know what? The outfit works just as well without this extra thing.”
Occasionally, Ditko would drop the netting from Spidey’s arms and artists who came after often did this as well. When Steve Ditko left, John Romita, Sr. came on board and added his own touches. Like Ditko, he was truly a visionary when it came to drawing the web-slinging wonder and he added two tweaks that set the standard for many. The first was that he shortened the web-netting so that it went only from the rib-cage to around the elbow (though half the time he didn’t draw it at all and left Peter’s arms completely free).
The other tweak Romita added was enlarging Spider-Man’s eye-pieces. Just a bit at first, but it was noticeable and influenced some later artists who would take it a step further, making Spidey’s eye-pieces cover most of his masked face.
Now let’s discus this costume as a whole. Wow. First, as mentioned before, it’s incredibly sleek to emphasize Spidey’s agility. Secondly, the piping is very creative in connecting the different parts of the costume. The boots (or “booties” as Pete calls them since they’re practically socks) balance things out and the back of the suit is different from the front yet also recognizable. Spidey’s even gone so far as to have two distinct spider symbols on each side of his costume, whereas most heroes who use this method use identical symbols (such as Superman).
A while back, I discussed Spidey’s costume with Tim Gunn, one of the minds behind Project Runway and the Chief Creative Officer at Liz Claiborne, Inc. During this conversation, Tim remarked: “What I find interesting about it is it’s one of the few costumes where it’s really all of a piece. You can’t imagine taking any component out of it and replacing it with something. It’s of a piece, head-to-toe, literally. And it has huge graphic impact and amazing symbolism. I’m crazy about it!”
I think Tim’s absolutely right. You see this outfit, you are not going to forget nor confuse it with anyone else. The colors are great together and are nicely balanced, the web pattern is detailed without being overly-complex. And this design helps underline the fact that Spidey is a character the reader is meant to relate to. Comic readers are of all ages, races, appearances and backgrounds and Spider-Man’s costume leaves the person beneath a complete mystery. Is he Asian? Is he black? Is he young and boyish? Is he in his 40s and unshaven? Does he have a facial disfigurement? Is he handsome? Are those eye-lenses prescription? You have no clue. Any of us could be Spider-Man (okay, not all of us have that physique, but you know what I’m saying).
This look has become so memorable that now anyone with a mask remotely close to Spidey’s is immediately identified with him. Just ask any Deadpool fan. Not only are those eyes memorable, but they add a small creepiness factor to the character. Imagine that you’re a criminal in an alleyway and Spidey emerges from the shadows or watches you from his perch on the side of a building. You don’t see his expression. Is he angry? Is he bored? Is he toying with you or ready to strike? Impossible to tell. You see nothing of his face and where his eyes should be, you only see your own warped reflection. Creepy.
And if it’s dark enough where all you see are these two reflective, bug-like eyes staring at you from the darkness? Double-creepy. And that’s good. Spiders are often considered creepy and Spidey is meant to seem a little unnatural, the way he skitters up buildings and is completely comfortable walking on a ceiling.
Just as long as he’s only a little creepy. He still describes himself as “your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man,” after all. He can look spooky in the shadows, as many of us would anyway, but once he steps into the light and you see the proud primary colors and cartoonish eyes that resemble those of Felix the Cat, you can smile and relax again. This is your buddy, the guy who’s always got a great one-liner and will figure out a solution even if he doubts himself while carrying it out.
When he became artist on the series Amazing Spider-Man, Todd McFarlane gave the blue parts of the costume a much darker look. In fact, they were mainly black, with blue outlines giving simple depth and shape, just as Ditko had originally tried doing. And in scenes where the web-slinger operated in the shadows, McFarlane occasionally dropped the blue entirely, making the wall-crawler entirely red and black. The next artist on Amazing Spider-Man was Erik Larsen and he drew Spidey as a red and black hero quite often, as if this were now the hero’s official color scheme.
Now and then, other artists will do this as well, if Peter’s in the shadows or if it makes him look cooler against the background. The red and black look good, I will agree. But I prefer the blue because, as I said, Spider-Man has a bright personality for the most part. Despite all the crap he goes through and all the times he knows his luck will not hold out, he shrugs and grimaces and tosses a few jokes, because tomorrow is another day. So I think having black be so dominant on him makes the character seem too serious.
THE BLACK COSTUME
There are a lot of misconceptions about the famous black Spider-Man costume so let’s clear a few things up. First, yes, it is true that Spider-Man discovered this suit (or what he thought was a suit) on the gestalt planet called “Battleworld” in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8, published in December of 1984. But this origin story came after Spidey had already begun wearing the black suit starting in Amazing Spider-Man #252 which was published in May of 1984, so that is actually the first time we saw our hero wearing it (not counting a previously published issue of Marvel Age where a red and black version of the design was advertised to fans).
Spidey discovered a glob of goo inside a machine that he mistakenly believed was meant to create clothes. The goo slid over his body and formed into a bodysuit and mask that resembled that of Spider-Woman II (Julia Carpenter), whom Spider-Man had only met earlier that day. Apparently, Spidey had been thinking about that design and so the goo responded to his thoughts. Peter found that the goo actually altered its form to whatever clothing he wanted, in any color he wanted. It even had built-in web-shooters and could create pockets to hold his camera and other tools. Originally, the Spider’s lower body came to a single point, but then artists began drawing it with two points at the bottom, as had been depicted on the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #252.
As the weeks went on, Parker found he was tired more often than not and later discovered that he was fighting crime in his sleep. After further discovering that the webbing from this suit was apparently organic, he took it to the Fantastic Four for testing. Team leader Reed Richards realized this was not a suit made from alien material that responded to mental commands, this was an alien symbiote that was feeding off of Spider-Man and attempting to permanently bond with him. Spidey left the suit imprisoned with the Fantastic Four. This occurred in Amazing Spider-Man #258, published in November of 1984. So Pete only wore the symbiote for about seven months and got rid of it a month before we learned its origin (which, granted, does add a few more months to the timeline since Peter wore the symbiote for the next four issues of Secret Wars).
A couple of months later, the Black Cat (Peter’s his girlfriend at the time) gave our hero a cloth version of the black costume that she’d made herself because she felt it looked “sexier” than his original costume. So for the next few years, Spidey went back and forth from the red and blue to the black and white, depending on the adventure.
Notice at no point did I say that the alien symbiote brought out Peter’s dark side. Because it didn’t. He did not act any differently and at this time the suit seemed to have no personality beyond that of a simple animal. Having Spider-Man act darker and more sinister was not the story. And it goes without saying that the cloth version he later wore for much longer certainly did not affect his mind at all. So this outfit does not really work for me in this context. Spidey is a colorful character not only literally but also metaphorically.
Although Peter can have his nights of angst or melancholic guilt, he always returns to his core as a whimsical, outspoken guy with an obvious humor, habitually mocking his enemies while in battle and reminding himself that things can’t stay bad forever. When he sees a dangerous situation, he often uses humor to work through his fear. This costume doesn’t say that. It speaks of a black and white philosophy and its minimalist design seems pretty boring after the creative design of the red and blue suit (don’t freak out yet, black costume lovers, and you’ll see how my opinion changes when the circumstances change later).
Spider-Man writer David Michelinie was intrigued by the fact that the alien symbiote could not be detected by Spider-Man’s danger-sense, since it had been bonded to his biology for a while and thus Spidey’s mind didn’t see it as an outside threat. So starting with Web of Spider-Man #18 in September, 1986, he began writing issues where we saw a new enemy who operated from the shadows, one that didn’t set off the spider-sense. Michelinie intended to later reveal this character was a woman whom had bonded with the alien symbiote and who blamed Spider-Man for the loss of her husband and stillborn child. Thanks to the symbiote, this woman would have all of Spider-Man’s powers and would have even greater strength which, added with her ruthlessness and obsessive need for revenge, would make her quite formidable.
But editor Jim Salicrup said that he wanted this character to be a large-muscled man, believing that readers would not see a woman as an overwhelming physical threat to Spider-Man, and so we got Eddie Brock AKA Venom. Venom had his first fight with Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #300, which came out in May, 1988, the four year anniversary of the symbiote’s first appearance.
In some later comics, it was indicated that the symbiote could influence the mind of the host, corrupting it. So when the cartoons and films adapted the Venom story, they always set this up by showing that (in their version of things) it had done so to Spider-Man as well when he had worn it. Because of this, many have said that the black look for Spider-Man makes sense because hey, it was bringing out his darker side. But as I’ve explained, this was not the case.
However, this outfit works great for Venom for the exact reasons it didn’t for Spider-Man. And not only that, but Spider-Man used a cloth version of the black costume again later on. The first instance, he did it for camouflage purposes when he had to go into the sewers (in Spider-Man #13 and #14, published in August and November of 1991). The next time he really decided t0 use the black outfit as his standard look again was after the events of Marvel’s Civil War story.
During that crossover, Peter had his life uprooted when he exposed his identity to the world and then decided he was against the new law requiring superhumans to register and work for the government or else be imprisoned without trial. Half of his friends were now hunting him down, the federal government now considered him a threat, and his family had become targets. On top of that, Captain America, a man Spidey greatly admired, was seemingly assassinated after turning himself over in order to stop the superhero Civil War. So in April of 2007, Spidey started wearing this suit again.
And with all that, yes, now the costume makes sense. This outfit tells me Spidey is on the edge, Peter is no longer in the mood for jokes. In an environment where registered heroes are trying to hunt down and imprison unregistered heroes without due process, he finds himself now having to say “you’re with me or against me” and this minimalist, monochromatic design speaks of that black and white philosophy. I actually applaud Marvel for taking the care to put this costume into that context, since a major reason to have Spidey wear the suit again was because it would appear (sort of) in the film Spider-Man 3 which was released around this time.
Okay, enough of that. Let’s move on.
When he turned over the alien suit to the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man was left standing in his underpants (make a note, people: “underpants” is funnier than “underwear”). So to help him get back home without exposing his secret identity, the Human Torch tossed him an extra FF uniform and a paper bag (naturally, the FF don’t have masks lying around since they all have public identities). Spidey was very embarrassed by this, particularly when he had to get involved in stopping several violent criminals and the media immediately assumed he was a new member of the Fantastic Four who wore a paper bag due to some symbolical reason.
Oh, and the Human Torch stuck a “Kick Me” sign on his back. Silly Johnny. Many years later, Peter once again had to fight crime without his costume and had to rely on simple pants and another paper bag as his only apparel. This time he took the situation in stride and introduced himself as the “Bombastic Bag-Man.”
And some time after that, Peter was forced to fight the Green Goblin when his costume was not available, so he grabbed a sheet from where folks were painting and just did the best he could.
Once when Peter lost his mask, he used the Black Cat’s mask instead so he could maintain his secret ID until he made it home and got a spare one. Of course, Black Cat barely has a mask, so this just made our hero look rather foolish. There have also been a couple of times where Peter has had to rely on store bought Spider-Man costumes and once he screwed up his laundry, causing the red of his costume to fade to pink and lose all its web-lines. Poor Pete. He just can’t catch a break sometimes.
CYBORG SPIDEY (NO, NOT REALLY)
Back in the 90s, it seemed like every other superhero comic needed cyborgs, mutants and people with blades, belts and/or shoulder pads. So in Spider-Man #21 (April, 1992), illustrated by Erik Larsen, Marvel offered a parody of this trend by having the famous wall-crawler seemingly transformed into a cyborg.
Except, not really. Spider-Man just got seriously injured during a fight and was offered aid by a research firm that not only sewed up the torn parts of his suit, they added a lens to replace his damaged eye-piece and put his injured arm into a high-tech mechanical cast designed to speed up healing. Spidey was VERY thankful that his arm had not been amputated and replaced with a robot limb and he kept the cast on when he later changed into one of his spare uniforms. So for a very short time, we had this fun would-be cyborg web-spinner.
I’ve gotta say, the bandages acting as a headband, added with the arm and the eye-piece is a perfect satire of what other, dumber people might have tried to do to Spidey in order to make him more “extreme for the 90s.”
In Spider-Man #25 (August, 1992), Spidey and Captain Britain were thrown into a scenario where they fought alongside the team Excalibur against some cosmic powered baddies. After the Excalibur members were seemingly killed, Spidey realized that this whole thing was fake, though, and decided to use this to his advantage. Using the bio-circuitry from the “dead” robot of Phoenix II (Rachel Summer), Spidey strapped the tech onto his back and was able to fake that he was the new host of the Phoenix Force, rocking out a Phoenix aura around his body before he delivered a serious energy blast.
This is a fun redesign, simplifying the Spidey costume while also making it a little more regal with the gold spider and the black replacing the blue.
SPIDER OF STEEL
Oh, 90s. You had to toss us something else? Okay. In Web of Spider-Man #100 (May, 1993), Peter found that the odds were against him when he fought the new team to call itself the Enforcers. Rather than call anyone for help, he went to the lab and altered his usual chemicals to create a “pseudo-metal” that was really a hardened form of his web-fluid. Introducing himself as the “Spider of Steel,” the armor offered him a few minutes of extra protection before it became too damaged to be usable.
This armor is just too silly for me to take it too seriously. Peter apparently not only had enough time on his hands to give it a black and silver paint job, but he also etched all his web-lines into it AND took the time to add tiny silver spiders to the knuckles. Seriously, you just needed this for protection, why all the decoration?
SCARLET SPIDER VERSION 1
I’m not going to explain the Spider-Man Clone Saga. I’m just not. All you need to know is that a clone of Peter’s was walking around, calling himself Ben Reilly (after Peter’s Uncle Ben and using Aunt May’s maiden name). Ben eventually decided to be a public superhero as the Scarlet Spider, debuting his new suit in Web of Spider-Man #118 (November, 1994).
And this costume… is lazy. Now, this is not entirely the designer’s fault because I know that word came from the Marvel Gods that Ben’s costume needed to look “off the rack”, as if he cobbled it together. And in that respect, yes, this says that. I mean, it’s basically a ski jumpsuit with a web-less Spider-Man mask and a spare copy of Peter’s belt and web-shooters. And I’m sure somewhere out in the world, there are guys who sell hoodies with a giant spider on them.
But that’s also what leaves this outfit seeming rather droll to me. It’s as if someone dyed Peter’s costume red and threw a hoodie on it and that was it. There’s not enough here to really make it seem like Ben is his own character, he just seems to be Spider-Man Lite. And those little ankle pouches just look silly, why not simply get a hoodie with pockets if you’re already wearing one?
The outfit later got its hood and sleeve edges ripped, which I guess was an attempt to make Ben seem more wild and dangerous. Didn’t really work. I don’t hate the design, it’s just not very interesting to me. And yeah, still not going to talk about the Clone Saga. Ben’s remarks in the image above sum it all up for me.
A couple of times, Spidey has used an exo-skeleton or harness of some kind. Once was when he donned a strength-enhancing exo-frame because he was rather weak at the time. He wore this over a store bought version of his costume.
Many years later, after Doctor Octopus died (don’t worry, he got better later), Marvel had a mini-series in 1995 entitled Spider-Man: Funeral for an Octopus. That is one of the funniest titles I’ve heard for a comic. Seriously, try to say that title and not smile.
Anyway, during this story, Peter temporarily took command of the good doctor’s four-armed harness, adding some spiffy goggles to the mix. Fun, eh? You’d think being one eight-legged creature was enough, but no, Peter has to go and emulate two at once. That’s just greedy, man.
REILLY AS SPIDER-MAN
A series of events I’m not going to begin to explain here led Peter Parker to decide he was going to retire and leave the Spider-Man identity to Ben. So Ben dyed his hair blonde, pretended to be Peter’s identical cousin (don’t you dare start singing that song, older fans), and at last took the time to design a new Spider-Man costume that debuted in Sensational Spider-Man #0 (January, 1996).
Oh, 90s Spider-Man, look at you. Why, why, why are you wearing biker-esque gloves? You’re not a biker? And you’ve gotten rid of the cool torso-leading-down-to-belt design, giving us just a shirt that’s identical from the back, thus taking away some of the outfit’s originality. And wait… someone’s stolen half of each of your boots?
No. My boy Tim was right when he specifically said it would be wrong to take away a piece of Spider-Man’s costume and you’ve done just that. You’ve literally taken away mere pieces of his boots and his gloves.
But don’t worry, boys and girls. Marvel realized no one was really digging the fact that Ben Reilly was now Spider-Man, so in December of 1996, Ben was killed off and Peter returned to his role and his classic costume in Spider-Man #75. Much rejoicing was shared by all.
You know, just because you aren’t a rocket scientist, it doesn’t mean you’re not dangerous. Spider-Man’s enemy Electro definitely fits into that category. It was bad enough that the guy could throw lightning bolts and that your flesh would sizzle if you touched him. But then the guy got himself a power boost and things got more serious. When the villain went wild and started causing havoc in New York, Spidey put together a new insulated suit to protect him from all the electricity.
This is a fun suit. It says “Spider-Man” but it’s also different enough that it has its own identity. I also like that the outline of the torso and mask are very similar to Spidey’s traditional look but with the colors reversed. I just think that’s a nice touch.
NEGATIVE ZONE SPIDEY
Weird things happen when you’re in another dimension. Some heroes, Spider-Man included, have had the colors of their uniform altered by such a trip. When journeying into the Negative Zone (a kind of anti-matter reality), Peter’s classic red and blue threads became strangely monochromatic.
This outfit was only worn for a few pages and it’s design is pretty obvious as something that emulates the classic outfit but doesn’t work in the same way. Still, it’s memorable and appears in the new video game Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
HOUSE OF M
Well there was this time when all reality was warped and only later on did Spider-Man, along with the Avengers and the X-Men, realize that things were not quite right. Before he regained his memories though, Spidey was operating as a media celebrity and this was the outfit he wore.
You know, again, I go back to what Tim said. The classic Spider-Man costume is just so well designed, you’re better off trying a new look from scratch rather than trying to rearrange it. This just doesn’t have the same flow and simple aesthetic that Ditko’s costume had. Don’t hate it, it’s just not as good.
SCARLET SPIDER VERSION 2
After joining the Avengers and becoming Tony Stark’s assistant, Spider-Man got a rather expensive gift. Tony Stark AKA Iron Man designed a new technologically enhanced suit for him, one with lots of fun gadgets, the ability to alter its appearance to Spidey’s classic costume or black costume, and three weird spider-legs that grew from a disc on the back and would move according to Peter’s thoughts. This armor first showed up in Amazing Spider-Man #529 (April, 2006) in a story that was acted as a lead-in to Marvel’s Civil War crossover. It has been called the Stark Spider Armor and the Iron Spider Armor.
This is what you do if you really want to give Spider-Man a new look. Throw out the red and blue and design almost from scratch. And you know what? This is interesting. Do I like it as much as the red and blue? No. And I don’t think it works for Spider-Man necessarily. It looks expensive, it looks flashy, it looks like something Batman keeps in a vault for special emergencies. And Peter, although a scientist, shouldn’t look too high-tech. He’s the bad luck penny who’s always struggling to make the rent on time and this outfit gives off the opposite impression. Then again, that works when you consider how much was going right for Peter at the time, living in Avengers Tower and working for one of the richest, smartest and most successful men on the planet.
When I showed this to Tim, he remarked, “I actually respond very positively to it, but I would have it be for someone else.” And he’s absolutely right. This doesn’t work for Peter, but it is a great outfit. It says agility, it says spider, and it says tech. And that’s why it worked for the new Scarlet Spider character(s) that appeared in the pages of Avengers Initiative.
And you know what? That wraps it up for us, people. I know, I know. You’re wondering where the entry is on Spider-Man 2099 or Spider-Man Unlimited or the Spider-Man of the future we saw in Amazing Spider-Man #500. Perhaps you’re curious why no mention of Spider-Man’s transformations into Captain Universe or Spider-Hulk. Well, people, our wall-crawling web-slinger is a guy worthy of multiple columns, just as Iron Man is getting a separate column focusing solely on his specialty armors. So rest assured, Spider-Man’s future incarnations and a few others will be discussed in a column that will be showing up sooner rather than later.
I hope you enjoyed this. Feel free to send any questions or topic suggestions to my e-mail or my Twitter: @SizzlerKistler. Until next time, this is Alan Kistler, Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., signing off.
Alan Kistler writes the comic book history/fashion column Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. He is an actor and freelance writer living in New York who has been recognized by Warner Bros. Films and major media/news outlets as a comic book historian. He is also the creator/host of the web-show “Crazy Sexy Geeks: The Series.” He knows entirely too much about the history of comics, Star Trek, Doctor Who, time travel, and vampires that don’t sparkle.