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Month of Avengers/X-Men Top Fives – Top Five Worst Wonder Man Costumes

All month-long we’ll be featuring top five lists about either the Avengers or the X-Men. Here is an archive of all the past top five lists!

Today, based on a suggestion (sort of) by reader Alan S., we have the top five worst Wonder Man costumes.

Enjoy!

Wonder Man has had basically one decent costume, his original Jack Kirby-designed outfit from #8…

which is not really that good of a costume, but it’s not bad and his Bob Hall-designed costume from Avengers #253…

The Hall outfit has basically been THE outfit for Wonder Man, although it has been slightly altered over the years (plus one dramatic alteration that is featured on this list). Currently, he wears a slight variation of that outfit…

5. The Safarai Jacket outfit

By all normal standards, Wonder Man’s safari jacket outfit, which debuted in Avengers #167, designed by George Perez, is a bad superhero outfit. However, it is SO out there that it almost sort of works despite itself. It’s a freakin’ safari jacket! For no reason! That’s just kind of awesome. So it only makes the top five because there are only five other outfits on this list.

I also love that no one ever acknowledges Wonder Man’s new safari jacket costume. It is just there as if it was always there.

4. Long sleeves and pouches

This Jeff Johnson-designed costume from Wonder Man #25 is pretty much all of the excesses of the 1990s. Why in the world would Wonder Man have a bunch of pouches on his costume?

The infinity belt buckle, though, is an inspired idea.

3. Heroes Reborn

Ian Churchill designed this variation on Wonder Man’s original costume for Avengers (Volume 2) #7 and wow, it was not a good idea…

2. The First attempt at combining W and M into a design

In Avengers #161, George Perez became the first artist to try to combine the W with an M to form a sort of symmetrical design. It really did not work…

The outfit only lasted six issues. The last couple issues Wonder Man literally fights shirtless, as his costume is torn during battle.

So when you keep in mind that…

A. The W/M design HAS BEEN TRIED and has been SHOWN NOT TO WORK, it really makes it look worse when Al Milgrom tried it again in West Coast Avengers #12. Not to mention…

B. The Bob Hall design was barely a YEAR old at this point. So why in the world did anyone think there was a need for a new Wonder Man outfit?

1. Second attempt at combining the W and the M into a design

Steve Englehart went meta in West Coast Avengers #24 when the outfit was ditched…

The “new” costume debuted in West Coast Avengers Annual #2, which was pretty much just the Hall costume again…

68 Comments

1) The safari jacket rocks and is the number 1 look for Wonder Man!

2) dead right about the WCA green though! Awful. And they wrecked Mockingbird’s costume at the same time!

Seconded on the safari jacket! My first exposure to Wonder Man was in mid-80’s UK reprints of early-80’s Avengers (the backup in Marvel UK’s Spider-Man title, I believe) so for me that was his definitive look.

And wasn’t the green WCA outfit the one that ended up being used in his profile shot in Marvel Universe Deluxe #15? (It was certainly the one he wore on the wraparound cover.) Ick.

The safari jacket is awesome.

What about the outfit he wore in the ’90s Guardians of the Galaxy? Yeah, it was “Hollywood”, but that was supposed to be Simon, right?

Just the title of this post was awesome. The notion that he’s got that many different costumes at all is bizarre.

Um, is Tigra always…like that? Ahem. The stretching, the pawing at Simon, the “scrumptious”? Oy.

I like the safari jacket look, too. It’s by far the best outfit he ever wore.

i prefer the Bob Hall one.

For me, the safari jacket is the definitive look for Wonder Man. I believe Perez said it was supposed to be a modern day Doc Savage look, to emphasize how Simon Williams felt ill-at-ease as a superhero. But probably part of the reason I like is because that was the first outfit I saw him in.

I also think that that the first Perez red & green costume is FAR uglier than the Al Milgrom version. Fortunately, Perez finally redeemed himself and did right by Simon when he did the Kirby dots ionic energy look in his 90s Avengers run: http://i.annihil.us/u/prod/marvel/i/mg/9/b0/4c06c57c844ef/detail.jpg

Simple but striking.

Um, is Tigra always…like that? Ahem. The stretching, the pawing at Simon, the “scrumptious”? Oy.

And yeah, Tigra pretty much was like that. Flirtatious and affectionate, like a cat.

If I made this list, I would go

Honorable Mentions: Safari Jacket, Bob Hall
5. Second Attempt at Combining WM
4. Pouches
3. Original Outfit
2. Heroes Reborn
1. First attempt at Combining WM

The Safari Jacket, in particular, both looks like something a somewhat eccentric Hollywood type would wear and seems to be comfortable. That goes a long way to justify it as a costume.

Menachim Heitz’s sunglasses deserve a feature of their own.

The original red-on-green only works if our hero was the Avenging Wenceslas, bringing justice to all the bad girls and boys.

Give me the Safari Jacket or give me death!

I’ve been waiting for an action figure of Wondy in the jacket since Avengers Annual #10, which was my introduction to Wondy, Hawkeye, Beast, Vision, and the Scarlet Witch. (Let alone, the X-Men! Heck, pretty much everyone in it except Cap, Thor, & Iron Man. That comic was jam-packed with characters I’ve never seen before!)

On a different note, it seems that dying his hair and losing the shades also turned Simon into a dick.

My favorite part of all these terrible costumes is the praise from the other characters. It’s like someone thought, “We’ll, if Tigra likes it, the kids are bound to flip for it!” And this piece really feels incomplete without a discussion of the WonderMullet, a hairstyle She-Hulk once called one of the best haircuts on the team. Explain yourself, Walters!

I find the Safari Jacket too bland, and the original Kirby costume a bit lacking as well.

Bob Hall’s design is the real goods.

The safari jacket was also a fashion trend of the late 60s and 70s. It was also a case of comics adopting a trend just a little later than the rest of the world.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

September 6, 2013 at 5:47 am

The Bob Hall design is great. The rest … not so much.

And sorry, but I’m really not feeling the safari jacket.

Ian Churchill designed this variation on Wonder Man’s original costume for Avengers (Volume 2) #7 and wow, it was not a good idea…

Ian Churchill art in general is never a good idea. Wow is that bad up there. I can’t believe he was ever a hot artist. That may actually be worse than Liefeld.

I always liked the safari jacket. It made sense to me that somebody who basically fell into super-heroing (which is how he was characterized, even if it wasn’t exactly accurate) would go for something more like regular clothes. Along with the glasses, it made him sort of like Superman and Clark Kent at the same time.

I also liked how the Busiek/Perez issues got around the “Wonder Man always has a terrible costume” problem by basically not having him have a costume when he used his powers (not to mention finally letting him fly, so they could get rid of the stupid belt-jets.)

If only it were a month of top tens so this subject would receive all it is due.

Count me among the voices saying the safari jacket was his best look. Though it certainly helps that it was the one he was wearing when I was first introduced to him during the (first) Perez era. The Bob Hall one isn’t too bad, but his other costumes are flat-out ugly. And yes, I include the Kirby original, which was gaudy as hell.

My first exposure to Wonder Man was that 1st attempt at W and M costume, so I love it! I remember seeing the original Kirby one in earlier issues and thinking, “what a lousy new costume”.

I’m probably also biased ’cause the two stories he wore it in are two of my favourites: Bride of Ultron and Nefaria Trilogy (where it got wrecked).

Having said all that, it did only last two stories, so the safari jacket became the definitive look for me. That’s the Wonder Man that was my favourite Avenger for many years (along with Beast, of course).

I, too, love the red jacket, and think it’s appropriate for reasons others have mentioned. I agree that the WCA green is the worst, but the original (and later variation) are awful, too. I hated the Hall costume at first but I have gotten used to it over the years.

And no, Tigra was NOT always like that. Shooter and Englehart made her into a cliche “sex kitten” because, uh, you know, she’s a cat. Check out her earlier appearances or later ones in Ann Nocenti’s Spider-Woman for a much better written version.

The safari jacket outfit is my favourite Wonder Man costume since it was the one he wore when I first met the character in Avengers Annual #10.

I honestly need more books where Beast was an Avenger.

Like some of the others, I always did like the safari jacket. The Bob Hall design is probably the second best outfit for Wondy.

Safari jacket outfit is his best one, very unique compared to most super-hero costumes. Bob Hall one is good, but still a pretty basic super-hero outfit. The Jack Kirby one is absolutely NOT the best one and probably one of the worst costumes the King ever made. In all the deification of Jack Kirby people tend to forget even a guy as talented as him made a dud once in a while.

I’d also wager that most people secretly like the safari look best but only pretend to not like it because the comics zeitgeist says they’re not supposed to. Kind of like how you’re not supposed to like art from McFarlane or Liefeld or how we’re supposed to pretend Frank Miller isn’t talented anymore (and possibly never was), a decision that mysteriously coincides with when comics critics found out he doesn’t vote the same way as them.

@Scott: to be fair, her personality troubles were a major plot point in the first two years or so of WCA.

When the Avengers play sports in their free time, they do it in full costume? That’s dumber than any of Wonder Man’s fashion choices.

Adding my vote for the safari jacket. It’s the best! I even made one and wore it for Halloween one year. (I altered and dyed a white lab coat.)

Considering Simon Williams was a nerd who read books and sadly lost his industrial company by competing against Tony Stark, I always thought Wonder Man dressing poorly was part of his character. Lord knows I won’t go near any bowls in Bill Gates home.

How are #4 and #3 not #1 and #2 (respectively)?

As crappy as #4 is, I have to defend the pouches. Sure, they look silly, but where else is he supposed to carry his wallet and keys and stuff? In a man-purse?

My first exposure to Wonder Man was in the West Coast Avengers. I loved that book under Englehart!!!

I remember seeing the green/yellow/blue costume (pictured above) for the first time, complete w/the fruity pose Simon did. And LMAO at it!!!

The next day in (junior high) school, I discussed the issue w my comic nerd friends. I still remember to this day how we ALL thought it was awful and must’ve been meant as a joke for the fans.

One of my friends suggested perhaps Alicia Masters and Daredevil sewed it together for Simon? Another thought perhaps it wouldn’t as bad if Simon was standing next to (now accepted as his “brother”) the Vision…or a Christmas Tree!!! LoL :-p

The safari jacket is the first look I ever saw for him and even then I thought it was stupid. For some reason I always had a soft spot for No. 2. The original costume looks like he’s wearing a sweater.

Regardless of the costume, though, I never cared for the character.

SO much love for the red safari jacket! It warms the cockles of my aging fanboy heart. :)

Had no clue there was so much safari jacket love out there. I always HATED it!!
But what did I know, I loved the first wm Christmas tree monstrosity when it first came out.
I look at those pictures now and see a pretty ugly costume. Hall design is still good though

Not going to lie, I always liked the safari jacket. It’s a much more casual look for a superhero, which sort of fits the character at the time. He sauntered in and out of panels, stories, lives, with nary a care. To me, the safari jacket implies a sense of tourism, that Wonderman is merely a tourist, observing a bizarre world of magical men and tiger ladies.

Any Wonder Man outfit with green in it, including the original Kirby one, was terrible. The black and red combos are much nicer, even the one with 90s pouches.

The safari jacket is by far the best. The Kirby outfit is probably the worst.

The fact that Simon turned into a dick after around #10 was a subplot in West-Coast Avengers. He finally straightened out around #25.

Read the letters about the red and green suit from #11. It may be the most universally hated costume ever. And yes, they actually did print a letter suggesting that Alicia Masters and Daredevil made it.

Add me to the chorus that the safari jacket is AMAZING ON ALL LEVELS and shut up and stop being wrong, Brian Cronin!

Original costume.- I know it’s SOP to sanctify all things Kirby, and deservedly so, but this costume “is not that bad”? Dumb ornaments, a helmet, bracelets and pouches! It is quite bad

Classic one.- Simple, straightforward and distinctive; just the huge belt buckle had to go and it did.

Safari Jacket.- Awesome

1990s Jeff Johnson designed. Actually not bad. Pouches had already been established by Kirby, so they are not 1990sy in this one. The belts on the boots and the Gambit gloves are, though. At least he is not wearing a stupid (i.e. non-safari) jacket

The rest.- Ugh, what were they thinking?!

I too like the Johnson costume; it’s probably the *best* costume. The one I *like* the best, though, is the safari jacket, because of the ridiculousness of it. It made him look like a playboy to me, someone who smokes a pipe and reads gentlemen’s magazines (for the articles!) in between battles.

But generally speaking, no, Wonder Man has never had a good costume.

That Churchill art is quite bad — as though drawn by an alien who had never seen a human body but read descriptions of it somewhere. At least as bad, though, is all of the Milgrom art, especially the splash page from WCA Annual 2. The perspective is shot to heck — the base paths are approximately five feet long, third base is on the same plane as the pitchers mound (going by the identical size of Captain America and Wonder Man) and cannot possibly be connected in a straight line to second base) — and all of the characters in the infield have the same pose. The intro of WM’s hideous WCA costume is so stiff — as though Milgrom posed action figures on his desk and drew characters as life-like as those.

So yeah, Milgrom is the Wonder-Man-costume of Avengers pencilers.

@ T & deron,

To be fair, Ian Churchill’s recent art is much better than his ’90s crap. He’s never going to be a top tier craftsman, but I like to see a “’90s artist” actually improve his skill.

I like the Bob Hall costume best. It’s not great, but it’s the sleekest of the bunch.

I don’t mind the safari jacket & sunglassses, but it always made Simon look older. While I don’t think every super-hero should look like he or she is 25, the jacket made him stick out like a sore thumb.

While Wonder Man’s original costume is rough, I think the Black Racer is his worst character design. Luckily, there are at least a dozen tied for best.

Safari Jacket for the win! But I concede that the Hall look is decent.

All others are lousy, INCLUDING his original costume! Not everything Jack Kirby designed was great, you know.

To be fair, Ian Churchill’s recent art is much better than his ’90s crap. He’s never going to be a top tier craftsman, but I like to see a “’90s artist” actually improve his skill.

I’ve seen his new stuff. It’s better in that its not stereotypical 90s stuff anymore, but it’s still bad to me, although in a more unique way.

I often stand up for Milgrom when he gets bashed, but in this case even I’m forced to agree. It’s strange, I like Milgrom and Sinnoty separately, but together they really seemed to be less than the sum of their parts.

Now I’m wanting to read some WCA.

Like some others here, I really enjoyed Perez’s ionic energy look from the mid-1990s. Of course, in a way, it was a another variation on Bob Hall’s design.

Count me as another vote in favor of the safari jacket outfit, as well. Unconventional, yes, but it worked for the character of Simon Williams.

I think the costume from # 161 would work if you switch the green with blue. I’d wear a safari jacket if I could get away with it.

so, the mystery of why Al Milgrom became an inker is solved

What about the “molecule” look that he had in Heroes Return? That wasn’t too bad!

“Kind of like how you’re not supposed to like art from McFarlane or Liefeld or how we’re supposed to pretend Frank Miller isn’t talented anymore (and possibly never was), a decision that mysteriously coincides with when comics critics found out he doesn’t vote the same way as them.”

I never liked any art from McFarlane or Liefeld and Frank Miller isn’t talented anymore. A don’t think it’s a coincidence that his talent has waned as he’s descended into being a crazy right-wing bigoted jackass, I think the two are directly related. My favorite definition of talent is that it’s the act of being open. Once an artist stops being open and closes himself off into a world of delusion and hate, he loses his talent.

As to Wondy, I never had strong feelings either way about the safari jacket but I could not imagine anyone being the least bit comforable while fighting in it. The combined W-M design with the resulting diamond shape in the middle (which echoes the diamond on the costume of his “brother”, the Vision) was a great idea and it always astonished me that nobody could get it right. And Kirby was a genius, but nobody’s perfect — the first Wonder Man costume is hideous.

I never liked Liefeld. Probably because I was too old to go crazy when the Image guys burst on the scene. My tastes were already set on guys like Perez and Byrne. McFarlane (and Jim Lee) I was impressed with in the first couple of years, but I tired of them when they became the new industry standard. If you don’t want to give me credit for being ahead of the pack, fine. Then give me credit for being, again, too old to change my ways.

I think Frank Miller WAS talented once. But I wonder why is it that many people who “discovered” they were conservatives after 9/11 sound like raving lunatics? Because people who were always conservative often are perfectly reasonable. It’s the “converts” like Miller that sound like 9/11 was a kind of existential revelation for them, amplifying any feelings of xenophobia they previously had.

Oh, Wonder Man costume? The jacket and Bob Hall’s redesign are both good. The rest are awful.

It’s downright absurd to say that Frank Miller “isn’t talented anymore”. Seriously, WTF? I agree absolutely that “Holy Terror” was disgusting on many levels, filled with reprehensible islamophobia and reactionary ideas; but the skill and craft involved are still undeniable; the man is still a master even if his latest work was depressingly bigoted. Disagreeing with him is one thing, but saying that he “isn’t talented anymore” is just ridiculous. One could argue that he’s misusing his immense talents, but that’s a subjective evaluation that doesn’t subtract one inch of Miller’s talent.

The sequel to DKR made a lot of tummies hurt because Miller wasn’t interested in making a straight sequel in the first place; he wanted to experiment with different techniques, but DC gave him a truckload of money and complete creative freedom so he accepted to do it. But instead of the straight sequel that fans had been dreaming about, Miller produced a dark satire that heavily mocked not only several beloved characters, but also fandom itself. I personally thought it was hilarious and brilliant.

And before someone says “If Miller didn’t want to do a sequel to DKR why did he accept DC’s offer?” – The answer is because he was paid generously to do whatever the hell he wanted, and what he wanted to do happened to be satire. Since so many fans are always willing to defend publishers when they screw creators because “the creators signed the contracts so they can’t complain”, naturally we should extend the same courtesy to a creator who signed a contract where the publisher allowed him to do whatever he wanted. Hell, I wish more top creators were given this level of creative freedom, as DKSA is miles superior to everything else DC is publishing nowadays.

About Wonder Man’s parade of bad costumes: the least awful of them is the Safari-Jacket costume because it’s the least generic costume the character ever had; it had tons of personality, and that’s sadly something we can’t say about most superhero costumes. The most awful of them all is the WM leotard from West Coast Avengers, which makes Kirby’s dramatic misfire on the original costume look good in comparison.

I will be by my phone waiting your call to apologize about the safari jacket look, which I think is awesome.

Les Fontenelle –

Superheroes are so easy to mock, that I find that superhero satire is, more often than not, unworthy of someone’s talents. It’s the artistic equivalent of beating up the 95 pound weakling.

Rene, I’m sure Miller thought DKSA was indeed unworthy of his talents. But he took the money to do it, acid mockery is what he was interested in doing – and most importantly, it was legitimately entertaining.

Easy to mock as the superhero genre may be, something being easy to do doesn’t mean that it can’t be done well, and DKSA had several genuinely sharp moments of genre satire.

Jeff Johnson’s 90’s look is actually my favorite, and I think it could still work today if they just got rid of the pouches. Shame it only lasted a few issues before his (2nd) death…

I liked DKSA for the most part. The ending with Dick Grayson was pretty weird, though. I don’t know if it was homophobic or creepy or both. I do think Frank Miller has some serious issues with man-to-man love. His work almost always walks a strange line between homoerotic and homophobic, and the whole mess makes it hard reading for someone who doesn’t has the same gripes as Miller.

But except for that, I quite liked DKSA. I can’t say the same for All-Star Batman and Robin.

Don’t know if I’d call it a work of genius, though. Miller’s satire of politics, entertainment, celebrity seems heavy-handed to me. Seems to have more anger than insight. But the comic has a sort of raw energy that makes me like it.

I agree with SJNeal. The Jeff Johnson one is the coolest – ditch those pouches, keep that infinity belt and you’ve got a pretty solid costume. Although, he does look like Superboy in that particular picture.

Wonder Man may have had a number of bad costumes, but nothing compares to his awful, awful name. Wonder Woman worked because of the alliteration. Wonder Man has always sounded so dumb. Why not something like “Ionic Man”?

Another vote here for the safari jacket. As Les Fontenelle said it has personality. The weakest is the Milgrom monstrosity. I wonder how the marvel editor Al Milgrom ever got to draw the Avengers? (Excuse the pun) I also agree with Mike in that the name is bloody awful. As his identity is public knowledge he should just be called Simon. I believe this is mostly so anyway.

As for the merits of DKSA it may float the boat of some, but I found it to be the incoherent ramblings of a bitter old fart who’d misplaced his love of super heroes and lost touch with modernity. Satire it was not. DC really should have been stronger and said sorry this is bollocks, paid him and handed the pages back unpublished much as it did with Holy Terror. (Which I believe began life as a Batman book.)

Having Wonder Man wheeze out “help” while wearing Ian Churchill’s outfit seems appropriate.

Gotta love that Wonder Man has his own list dedicated to his bad costumes. I think he wore the Safari outfit when he was a part of the Mighty Avengers. Just seemed out of place.

[…] Brian Cronin takes a look at the universally-agreed worst Avenger of all time Wonder Man, and specifically the awful outfits the character has worn over the years. […]

[…] Brian Cronin takes a look at the universally-agreed worst Avenger of all time Wonder Man, and specifically the awful outfits the character has worn over the years. […]

“Wonder Man has had basically one decent costume, his original Jack Kirby-designed outfit from #8…”

I’ll never understand this perceived idea that we cannot bad-mouth anything by Lee or Kirby. That Kirby costume is by far the worst of the lot. His current simple costume of black and red is easily the best.

You can have respect for what the originators of comics created but please don’t act like 90% of the looks hold up today.

I’ll never understand this perceived idea that we cannot bad-mouth anything by Lee or Kirby. That Kirby costume is by far the worst of the lot. His current simple costume of black and red is easily the best.

You can have respect for what the originators of comics created but please don’t act like 90% of the looks hold up today

Perhaps you should try reading the whole sentence before you reply to just the first part of the sentence.

Cops have a ton of pouches on their belts. No one complains about that.

Yes, but cops have actual uses for pouches. What on earth could Wonder Man need pouches for? Hair dye? He’s not Batman.

Anyway, I actually like the George Perez costume from Avengers #161. The W/M logo doesn’t look that great, but otherwise I think it’s good costume, at least by Wonder Man standards. I especially like the color scheme.

Also, the costume from 1985’s AVENGERS #253 is a relatively good Wonder Man costume.

Count me as NOT being a fan of the red safari jacket.

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