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Top Five Batman Costumes

Here are the top five costumes worn by Batman regularly in the comics (so no movies, TV shows or one-off costumes)!

Enjoy!

First, a dishonorable mention.

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My pal Jake remarked that even before he was the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel, Joe Quesada apparently had it in for DC.

5. 1940-1960s

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I am not a fan of this Batman costume, as the chest symbol is just a bit too bland for my tastes.

Although, I’ll admit, by the time the 60s came around, there basically was no difference between this one and the one that followed it, save the yellow oval.

4. 1960s-1990s

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But what can I say, I like the yellow oval better!

I think it was the existence of the oval (and also the more experimental time period as a whole) that led to artists trying to do some more creative things with the costume. Slowly, the grey in the costume was a bit darker, so was the blue.

The cape also got longer.

It was a good look.

3. 1939

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I like the original look, with its almost functional cape and the far creepier look that the mask gives.

THIS is what a guy would wear if he wanted to strike fear in the hearts of criminals!!

2. 2000s

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This current look is basically an updated 1940s costume, but the update is a stronger one. Darker colors works really well for Batman, I think, so I dig the darker grey and the darker blue.

1. Mid-to-late 1990s

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The 90s were a time of some ugggggly costumes, but they were also a time of nice looking streamlined, like Tim Drake’s Robin outfit.

This Batman costume was a good one, I thought.

The idea of BLACK for the shirt and pants was a genius idea, and I loved the loss of the underwear on the outside.

Overall, it was a sleek, dynamic look – and the dark suit makes the yellow oval pop out even more so.

Very cool.

I found a Brian Stelfreeze cover that better shows the new outfit (it’s not a great COVER, but it is a good description of the costume).

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I dig it.

Sleek black with no outer underwear, but the bright yellow oval still existing for contrast purposes.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

32 Comments

The yellow oval did make the costume look cooler the first time but it really doesn’t make any sense, especially in the 90s version. If you consider Batman to be a nightcreature stalking in the shadows bright yellow would be very disfunctional, wouldn’t it? They darkened the whole suit(which is cool, indeed) and brighten the yellow? Imagine seeing Batman at night, he’s be a walking utility belt with a logo floating above it. Yuugh.

The best in my opinion would be something like 3 & 2, cool, dark and believable.

Also that cover to Batman 685 is one ugly-ass cover. Why is Batman doing an impressionistic dance with a half naked guy? It’s still dwarfed by the hideousness (is that a word?) of 501 though. Quesada + costume design = not a good thing, apparently (What the hell are those leg-things on Spidey’s back?!?).

I know this was not your intention, but these covers demonstrate how Neal Adams is head and shoulders above every other Batman artist. Jim Lee’s drawing isn’t as static as his stuff usually is, but wow, it’s completely frozen compared to that Adams drawing. Go Adams! Too bad about the inflatable Earth thing.

And I am totally with J to that AAP: WTF is going on in that last cover? The distance between the intended bad-assery and the actual tom-foolery is incredible! Batman looks like he’s pretending to bare his claws like a cat. Ridiculous facial expressions on both of them, too.

I had no problem with the 90′s costume except that it was supposedly the reason that Batman had gone off and left Dick in charge was that he was designing a new costume (which in itself is worse than Jonah Lewie’s reason for always being in the kitchen at parties) and when he came back you could barely tell the difference in the costume. Especially in the issue with the big reveal which was drawn by Kelly Jones.

J to the AAP: Frank Miller did a good job justifying the yellow oval in DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (which, if you haven’t read, you really should). The idea is that the costume is partly armored: the yellow oval is literally a target, encouraging armed criminals to shoot the Batman in the chest, where the bulletproofing is, rather than, say, in the head.

It’s all about misdirection. It’s the same with the big, swirling cape, which—when you think about it—would be pretty impractical for the Batman’s stealthy, acrobatic style of heroics. But it keeps his outline indistinct.

The first Azbats costume, which he wears when he lays the smack down on Bane in the rain with a train, actually looks *ok* on the page. It’s an abysmal mess by the time it’s magically turned red by flames during Bruce Wayne’s return though.

“Also that cover to Batman 685 is one ugly-ass cover. Why is Batman doing an impressionistic dance with a half naked guy?”

He was some blind dude who was supposed to be a badass martial artist who had it in for Robin (he thought Robin had broken his back). Batman kicked him all round the place – I guess this was some sort of rematch. As for costumes, I’ll get to that later but for the record – yellow oval RULES. All this talk of “yellow ovals won’t work with stealth” falls to pieces when you’re referring to a six foot man dressed up with pointy ears and a GIGANTIC SWOOSHY CAPE. Grey / black bat symbols suck, and I think – yes, I can feel it coming – that I will blame Dan Didio for this travesty. Awesome.

You stole my thunder about the yellow drawing gunfire but unless it’s made of vibranium, it wouldn’t absorb the impact. A powerful gun would still at the very least break his ribs. (Yes, I’m giving this waaaay too much thought.)

As for the first costume, am I the only one who thought, “What the hell is Black Panther wearing?”

One of the problems with the 1990s costume was that the changes were slight enough that I don’t think the ARTISTS even really knew what they were.

Especially the whole “getting rid of the crotch covering” thing.

What artists seemed to do was to just make sure to not show you Batman’s waist at all. If you look at covers of the time, they are all either by Kelley Jones (in which case they’re obscured ANYways, because Jones was all shadowy) and Graham Nolan (who did the whole “not show the waist area” thing)

That cover is the best view of the 90s Batman, sadly.

Back when I was a youngster, I was part of the “The Yellow Oval Doesn’t Make Sense!” camp. Then Tim Burton’s movie came out and I got a t-shirt with the yellow bat-symbol. One day I walked into the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror in half-light before I’d turned on the light switch. Guess what? The yellow didn’t really pop out and wasn’t that visible.

When an artist draws Batman in a black silhouette with the yellow of that insignia showing, it’s just a stylistic device. Unless that yellow oval is made of reflective or glow-in-the-dark material; it really wouldn’t be visible in the dark.

On another note; I like that late 1990s look, too. But what was the deal with those “Bat Scallops” on the sides of his boots? They don’t make that much sense on his gloves, and they sure don’t make sense on his boots!

I have to disagree with this one. I’m just not a fan of the late 90′s costume. The idea of Batman wearing black pants and a black tunic work for me, but with the blue cape and cowl, it just looks muddied. If you are going to go black, go all black like the movie costumes. Personally, I’m a big fan of the current look with the dark grey and either dark blue or black cape/cowl/gloves/boots without the yellow insignia. It was a cool idea, but now it just feels dated. Plus I like the larger bat sillouette across the chest.

@Jack Fear: ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ is one of my favorite comics of all time, I stand corrected in regard to the stealth part.

I still stand by my other comments and like 2 & 3 better, but that’s just personal taste.

I hate Blue Batman. Hate it. Especially when he’s coloured really light blue, which still happens fairly regularly. It just looks goofy and out of place, especially considering we’ve been fed a steady diet of Black Batsuit by the movies and television for some time now.

To copy and paste from myself in the forum: “I prefer the simple black-on-gray symbol. It’s a bit hard to call him “the Dark Knight” when he’s running around with a bright yellow oval on his chest, no? I’d also like to see him to lose the manties and switch to a black belt. That’d be cool.”

Your number five would be my number one.

But that’s just cause all of my top ten favorite Batman artists are Dick Sprang.

You know, in defense of AzBats, I first saw that costume when I was a kid, and when you’re eight years old, it’s pretty badass.

That, and its suckage was kind of part of the storyline. I think it works for what it’s supposed to represent. I’m much more bothered by the Batman Begins costume, which, while functional, is all kinds of fugly.

I honestly have no preference whatsoever on the yellow oval, and personally I kind of like it to move in cycles where we get a few years of yellow oval followed by a years without. I’m much more of a stickler for the black cape and gloves as opposed to the blue, which I think looks kind of dorky.

I guess my favorite would be the modern outfit only with a black cape, which is how it appears in the “New Look” Batman: The Animated Series and in a lot of current comics.

Did the mid 90′s costume come right on the heels of Knight’s End, or did he go back to the blue and grey first?

He wore the blue and grey in Knight’s End, and then during Zero Hour, and then Dick wore it when he filled in.

When Bruce returned, it was with the new costume.

The new costume changed, actually, from its debut. Originally, it was ALL one piece – no boots or gloves!!

Then they added boots and gloves.

Guess most of you are too young to know or remember why the yellow oval showed up on the costume. The reason is pretty anti-climatic, we have the legal department at DC to thank. It seems that a simple black bat can to be tradmarked or copywrited, so just slap it on a yellow oval and there you have it. DC was able to trademark the bat logo back in 1964 because now it became unique. As far a costumes go, all I can say is I have been a Batman fan for as long as I can remember (I’m 45) and I have thought some were great and others left me wondering what they were thinking. I do like the current look though, still I miss the yellow oval sometimes.

“hey darkened the whole suit(which is cool, indeed) and brighten the yellow? Imagine seeing Batman at night, he’s be a walking utility belt with a logo floating above it. Yuugh.”

If they’re looking at the logo or the belt, they’re not looking at the fists, elbows, knees, and feet.

Until it’s too late…

Mazzuchelli’s YO costume is my favorite.
Also, Batman without the trunks is disturbing to me. I know the trunks are a silly idea, but he just looks wrong to me without them.

We can solve this one by agreeing that Norm Breyfole’s costume was best: a bunch of wavy lines and blur marks :P

Like Punch, I think the “trunkless” costume just looks *wrong* somehow. It doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense, but the superhero archetype in my head going back to 1938 says “If you gots a belt, you need some kind of pants for it to be holding up.”

What I remember of the black and navy blue (aside from the gloves and boots being added at the end of the initial 4 part story for the purposes of handling radioactive material) is that it gradually got lighter as the colorists either wouldn’t make it dark enough or the inkers wouldn’t ink it enough.

I rather like the current costume, especially in the Morrison/Kubert Batman issues, but I think of what’s listed the Adams design is my fave.

One Batman costume that I had always thought was cool but had only ever seen in one panel of a trade I got as a present when I was 12 (Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told, the story was “The Joker’s Crime Costumes”) is this stark white snow-Batman costume. Proving that even the one thing that made Moon Knight visually eye-catching was something swiped from Batman.

Trunks make good sense. They keep Batman’s tights up. Without them, the crotch in his tights would end up half way to his knees, resulting in an unflattering ‘penguin’ look.

It’s true you know.

cheers

Bruce Timm redesign for Batman the new animated series- DEFINITIVE costume.

number 2- the current one but black.

I wish Graham Nolan would come back

It’s a dead heat for anytime Breyfogle drew Batman, and anytime Dick Sprang drew Batman. He must have blue cape, cowl, boots, gloves and trunks. It’s okay to color them mostly black with a suggestion of blue.

Also, I go back and forth about the yellow thing. I could go either way.

But I HATE anytime they put those stupid POCKETS on the utility belt! Cumon! Give the man a sleek capsule belt! He’s rich… He can afford it!

neal adams is a freakin’ god !!!!!!! why can’t he come back to bats ????

and jim steranko on batman that would be freakin’ nice !!!

batman

The best Batman costume is the one which uses the basic bat rather than the target yellow oval, and it’s colored black and gray, not freaking blue and gray. Every other attempt at a bat-costume makes it look retarded.

The mistake with #2 is that the current costume isn’t blue and grey — or at least, not all of the time. It’s colored black and grey a lot (see Superman/Batman, Trinity, Robin, etc.), which makes it #1 in my book.

I like 4and 5. Blue and grey is classic Batman to me. The brighter the blue, the better. Very primary. I agree on the capsule belt – I remember how artists imagined the mirco-sized gadgets that fit it – very ahead of its time. Number 1 looks okay to me, but that cape was often painted black and didn’t stand out much. And the lack of trunks shows off the jewels too much. Who designed it – Joel Schumacher?

I really wish that after No Man’s Land, Batman had still kept the classic blue and grey batsuit with the big capsules on the utility belt and the yellow eliipse around the chest’s bat symbol.

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