It is a new year and so it is time to kick it off with a new list. Just a few days ago DC Comics announced that Superman’s costume would be tweaked as part of the “Superman Reborn” story arc for the month of April’s issue #20 of Superman.
So, while Superman’s costume has – at its core – been a quintessential part of Superman’s identity and has always remained distinctive and recognizable, it has undergone various changes over the years. We could make a rather extensive list (being that his costume and the S itself have undergone countless evolutions), but this exclusive group of twenty represents some of the more drastic changes as well as changes from recent years. We will look at the present day and travel to the future and the early years of Superman. We will also be flying in and out of continuity, visiting Earth-1 and the Elseworlds.
- This first image, below, (Courtesy of comicbook.com) represents the costume that we will see beginning in April. The most notable differences are the pointed boots and the updated belt, complete with a metallic belt buckle. Also of note is the absense of his bracelets, something we’ve seen for a while on his recent costumes.
2. In this next image, from DC’s New52 campaign, is 2011’s Action Comics # 1. Note the belt and wrist details as compared to our first example.
3. Next we have Action Comics # 711 which was on comic book store shelves in 1995. Here is a costume example that has something later iterations have dropped, the yellow-belted, red trunks. His boots are shaped differently here as well.
4. Let’s skip back to the beginning for a moment and examine Action Comics # 1. In one of the most recognizable, iconic images in all of comic books, you can see his earliest costume choice. Of note here is the shape of his chest emblem and the “S”.
5. In the early 1990s, Dan Jurgens wrote and drew Superman with a black costume. This issue and story line “Reign of the Superman”, shortly after the Death of Superman story, saw multiple people masquerading around the world calling themselves Superman.
6. But that’s not the only time Superman has gone with different colors. In this story, Superman donned an electric, blue costume.
7. But that’s not all. Supe’s has had a red costume as well.
8. In Mark Waid and Alex Ross’s Eisner award-winning mini series Kingdom Come, Superman is draped in red and black.
9. Mark Millar’s Eisner award-nominee miniseries Superman: Red Son also found him with red and black. His chest symbol was changed to the Soviet Union’s hammer and sickle. Like Kingdom Come, this is part of DC’s Elseworlds title line.
10. Written by Joe Kelly and Michael Turner, with Michael Turner cover art, comes Godfall.
11. This next image is from Superman The Man of Steel issue # One Million.
12. Superman Prime
13. Superman Prime (Superman Prime One Million) saw more than one costume change. This is the Super Saiyan version
14. Next we have Superman: At Earth’s End, another Elseworlds story, set in a post-apocalyptic world. Here he has a big silver buckle and some short sleeves. Check out that crazy beard.
15. Superman The Dark Side, yet another Elseworlds book, depicts a more gladatorial-esque Superman.
16. In Superman Kal, we get a knighted, medieval look for Superman
17. In Superman Lois and Clark, Superman again went to his black costume but it was a simpler look. Some of the silver is gone from his previous iteration that gave him silver metal arm gauntlets
18. Yes, this is Superman. It is a skinny, sickly sun-deprived Superman. S1.
19. In 1994, DC Comics released a 3 part miniseries called Superman/Doomsday Hunter/Prey. Can you tell this is a 1990s costume? I never said this was a “Best of” list.
20. The last one we will look at is when Superman went in to exile. Over the years it has been said that Superman is unable to breathe in space. This has been re-written, ret-conned and changed numerous times over the years but here is an example of Superman’s outfit outfitted with an oxygen mask. The issue below is the trade paperback that collected issue # 28 of 1987’s Superman run. (It actually collects Superman #28-30, Adventures of Superman #451-456, Action Comics #643 and annual #2)
Well, that’s it folks! 20 examples of Superman’s costume changes over the years. There are others but I wanted to keep this list at an easy twenty.
Here is a cool pictograph that shows his evolution through the decades