Spider-Man must be the single-most watched superhero of my youth, and for good reason. The web-slinging do-gooder featured on the telly long before I even knew what the superhero world of Marvel and Dark Comics even entailed! As I grew up, I was exposed to countless iterations of “Underoos”, as he is called by Tony in Captain America: Civil War (2016); and as you might imagine, I have seen even more of him since then.
Marvel Entertainment recently revealed their top 10 list of Spider-Man costumes. The video itself is quite good and offers insight into which Spider-Man costumes are ranked as “the best” by Marvel staff. Needless to say, however, I find some of their choices questionable (I know, right? The audacity!).
As such, I have taken their list and… amended it a bit. Without further ado, here are what I think should be the top 10 Spider-Man costumes from Marvel’s Comic Universe.
10 – Iron Spider
First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #529
Created by: Joe Quesada & Chris Bachalo
Image: Michael Turner
Before we go any further, I just have to say that this list was very difficult for me to compile. There are countless Spidey costumes that I would put as number ten, but from all of them, I think that the Iron Spider suit is best.
The Iron Spider suit was a gift to Peter from his good friend and teammate, Tony Stark. Tony built him the suit in lieu of his death and resurrection by Morlun. Morlun is a supervillain from Earth-001 that hunts all the Spider-Totems throughout the multiverse.
The suit itself is a beautiful crimson red and gold suit akin to that of Iron Man. It features a lot of high-tech functions and even has extending arms that make Peter look even more like a spider.
9 – Spider-Woman
First appearance: Marvel Spotlight #32
Created By: Archie Goodwin & Marie Severin
Image: Arturo Z. Gutierrez
Jessica Drew. Now this is a woman who I would love to see in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only is she a super-hot badass, she also boasts the most iconic female spider-man costume. Jessica’s origins have gone through many revisions and retcons, but in most of them, it is established that she was part of insect-human hybrid experiments. I had a mega crush on her as a child!
Throughout the years, Jessica Drew received many storylines, some of which took her on adventures against HYDRA; and even had her as part of the Avengers. In the later storylines, Jessica donned her classic red and gold Spider-Woman costume. As an Avenger, Jessica helped fend off a rogue Wonder Man and Kang the Conqueror. It was during a third invasion, this time led by the Serpent against Midgard, that Jessica and fellow Avenger, Hawkeye, started having feelings for one another. It is also during this time that my dreams were crushed by the Purple Man (I totally get it though — bows are cool). Jessica later left the Avengers after joining with Spider-Man and his Spider-Army to fight against Morlun during the Spider-Verse saga.
In a bonus bit of trivia (that the movies can totally do something with), we are told that Black Widow believes Jessica leaving the Avengers was due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder brought on by the Spider-Verse.
8 – Spider-Man 2099
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #365
Created by: Peter David & Rick Leonardi
Image: William Sliney
Spider-Man 2099 had a very short run, but it was from 2099 that Spider-Man Unlimited was born. Plus, he looks pretty badass and warrants a spot on this list.
Miguel O’Hara was a brilliant geneticist who lived in New York in the year, you guessed it, 2099. Miguel attempted to recreate the abilities of the original Spider-Man in others, but ultimately suffered an accident that caused him to fuse with his own genetically modified code.
The Spider-Man 2099 suit has gone through a large number of changes throughout its publication history, but I have to say that my most favourite is the recent silver and red version. This is the suit that Miguel dons after the Secret Wars storyline. The suit is most prominently featured on the cover of Spider-Man 2099 Vol. 3 #3.
Here, Miguel is stuck in the present and now has to find a way back to his original timeline. In this storyline, Miguel is approached by Peter Parker who offers him a job at Parker Industries. It is during this time that Miguel uses a time portal to go back to 2099, which he decides not to do since 2099 has been devastated by a villainous attack. Miguel vows to stop those responsible and finds out that it was Doctor Chronos, who works for a dark group known as The Fist.
7 – Future Foundation Spider-Man (FF Spider-Man)
First appearance: Fantastic Four #579
Created by: Jonathan Hickman & Steve Epting
Image: Stivens Trujillo Sanchez
The Future Foundation is a group of superheroes formed by Mister Fantastic. Reed Richards, after becoming discouraged by how Earth’s scientists viewed science, created the Future Foundation (FF) – a group of the world’s greatest minds. Although credited as one of the original member, Spider-Man only joined the team a bit later after Human Torch died by preventing an invasion from the Negative Zone.
The Future Foundation comics had a very short run. I would say that they acted more like an “event series” than anything else. Either way, the costumes that came out of this limited series were some of the best I have ever seen – especially at the time. The FF Spider-Man costume, for one, was a nice looking white and black costume. It was created from “unstable molecules” that allowed it to change colour or disappear completely with just a thought.
The suit also featured a stealth mode which inverted its colours, making it look almost like the Symbiote Spider-Man costume.
6 – Symbiote Spider-Man (AKA Black Suit Spider-Man)
First appearance: Secret Wars #8
Created by: Jim Shooter & Mike Zeck
Image: Sideshow Collectibles
Would you believe that the original idea behind ‘Symbiotes’ was actually a fan-submitted idea? Marvel Comics liked the idea so much at the time that the company purchased it for a ‘whopping’ $220 USD. That is the equivalent of around $530 USD today. Alas, you might also be surprised to learn that the Symbiote Spider-Man is also the least favourited costume for many Spider-Man fans. In fact, the majority of the fans (the creators included) would rather give Venom’s costume a higher ranking than Symbiote Spider-Man. Naturally, this does not make sense for a list like this because, get this, Venom is not Spider-Man! Shocker! I know! Anyway, with that passive-aggressive start out of the way, let us see what makes this suit great.
In the comics, Symbiotes are actually members of a race called Klyntars. They are amorphous parasites that bond to their hosts like costumes and create symbiotic bonds with their hosts. Most of the time, the Symbiotes’ influence over its host’s mind proves to be deadly.
The first Symbiote made its way to earth thanks to Peter Parker, who bought it back after the events of Secret Wars. Peter, who did not know about Venom’s true nature, “wore” the black suit for a while. This made Peter develop strange behaviours that eventually resulted in the boy-genius discovering Venom’s true intention. By separating from the Symbiote, Venom merged with Eddie Brock, where he managed to take over Brock’s mind entirely, merging into the horrible creature just about every millennial will recognise as Venom today.
While it was a part of Spider-Man, the black suit greatly enabled Peter’s abilities. It not only made him even stronger than he is capable of, but also smarter, and more charismatic.
5 – Fear Itself
First appearance: Fear Itself #7
Created by: Matt Fraction & Stuart Immonen
Artist: Steve McNiven
The Fear Itself comics feature a crossover storyline between many of Marvel Universe’s big leaguers. It is referred to by many of the characters as the Serpent’s War and concerns itself with, predictably, The Serpent. After waking up from his dark prison beneath the ocean he is set free by his First Worthy, Skadi. It is from here on that he begins to spread fear throughout Earth. The Serpent is the self-proclaimed True All-Father of Asgard — as such, all Asgardians leave Earth to fend for themselves, and return to Asgard to protect their realm from The Serpent’s many Worthy. Personally, I never finished the Fear Itself comics since they ended up being extremely drawn out and lengthy for what was essentially just Civil War, but in Asgard.
The storyline features many of the big Marvel superheroes in multiple capacities. Of note are the likes of Hulk, Juggernaut, Thing and Grey Gargoyle; each of whom are turned into Worthy and given special hammers such as Thor’s Mjolnir. Spider-Man is first featured in book 7, but other than that we honestly do not get to see much of him.
In Fear Itself, Tony Stark gives many heroes special armour that he made with help from the Dwarves of Nidavellir. The armour featured special gauntlets that had special blades, capable of clashing with the hammers given to The Serpent’s Worthy. All suits had a neat glowing tint to them, almost like they had been zipped into the world of Tron. The Spider-Man suit definitely looked cool, and it was one of the suits that I obsessed over for a while. It really is a shame that I lost track of the Fear Itself comics.
4 – Scarlet Spider-Man
First appearance: Web of Spider-Man #118
Created by: Terry Kavanagh & Steven Butler
Image: Mark Bagley
Ben Reilly was a strange fellow, but his Scarlet Spider suit was the epitome of badass-dom when I first saw it. Ben was a clone, created from Peter Parker’s DNA by the Jackal to fight him. You see, the Jackal hated Peter so much that he did not wish death upon the young webslinger. Instead, Jackal wanted to torment Peter for the rest of his life.
At first, Ben was a mindless clone who eventually seemed to succumb to critical injuries after a bomb went off. Good guy Peter buried him thinking that would be the last he ever saw of the clone. Thanks to an injection of mysterious fluids earlier, however, the clone recuperated and lived. This is where he came to terms with the fact that he was, in fact, just a clone, and exiled himself for five years.
Five years later, Ben the clone returned to New York where he and Peter essentially kissed and made up. It was much less of a “bromance” story than what I wanted the two to have, but I loved the idea of two Spider-Men slinging around the city. A twist later in the Web of Spider-Man comics revealed that the clone was, in fact, Peter, and Ben had been the real Peter Parker all along. The two, however, decided on keeping their identities as it had been for the past five years.
I particularly liked the Scarlet Spider costume because of its extreme “otherness”. Ben was an outsider that looked exactly like Peter, yet he knew that he had nothing to do with his lookalike’s life. His suit was created to reflect this: a full red bodysuit with long eyes and shackles on all limbs. He wore a blue hoodie, torn at the shoulders with a big black spider on it that only added to its awesomeness.
In a way, the ‘homemade’ suit that will be worn by Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) resembles the Scarlet Spider suit a bit in design. It also has the hoodie and features the two Spider-Man colours prominently. The only differences are that his mask is not that of an actual Spider-Man costume and that the colours are inverted. Holland’s suit also does not feature the shackles. He does, however, have two wristbands that look similar.
3 – Ultimate Spider-Man
First appearance: Ultimate Comics Fallout #4
Created by: Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli
Image: Jonathan Piccini
Miles Morales is the first ever “black-Hispanic” Spider-Man. He earned the mantle of Spider-Man when Peter Parker died, but did not consider himself as Spider-Man until he received his new black and red suit from S.H.I.E.L.D.
I honestly do not like the Ultimate Spider-Man story at all. Not only did I not read a lot of it, but I also think that killing off Peter Parker, as an excuse to change up the Marvel universe, is just dumb. There have been various iterations of a myriad of superheroes in the past without the need to keep timelines in check.
With that said, I do think that Miles’ Ultimate Spider-Man suit is an amazing call-back to Spider-Man Unlimited. I have very fond memories of watching the futuristic Spider-Man cartoon back in the day. I constantly wrote down pros and cons of his suit versus that of DC’s Terry McGinnis and his Batman Beyond suit, and how they stacked up against one another. For that call-back alone, I absolutely adore Miles’ Ultimate Spider-Man costume and its black and red theme.
2 – Dusk
First appearance: Spider-Man #91
Created by: Howard Mackie & John Romita Jr.
Image: Ashraf Ghori
Spider-Man was framed for murder by Norman Osborn and the Trapster, and was hunted down by the police. In order to clear his name, but still fight against injustice, Peter Parker created four different identities, each with their own costume. All three costumes are quite incredible in their own right, but Dusk stood out the most.
Dusk is the third suit used by Peter Parker. The costume, which he acquired while in the Negative Zone, resembles absolute darkness. It allowed Peter to virtually blend in with the shadows and the night. It also gave Peter the ability to glide for short distances. The suit stood out to me for the mere fact that it made Spider-Man look like a big black blob. He did not wear any of the four suits for long, however, throwing them out as soon as his name was cleared of all wrongdoings. A shame, really. Imagine seeing a movie about this?!
1 – Classic Spidey
First appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15
Created by: Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
Image: Sideshow Collectibles
Yes, yes. “Oh what a cliché, Edward”, I hear you say. “Everyone says that”! Well yes. But also… well, yes.
The thing is, every single person who knows of Spider-Man thinks of him in his iconic blue and red suit (much like Superman). It is the suit that basically started it all. This is the suit Toby Maguire wore in the first live-action trilogy, and this is the suit that Andrew Garfield wore in the two movies that he starred in.
Over the years, the suit has obviously gone through countless small changes, but there is simply no denying that it has always been the red and blue, Classic Spidey suit. Similarly, there will also always be a Classic red and blue spidey going forward.
I remember sitting in front of the television in my youth and eagerly waiting for Spider-Man to make his on-screen debut for the week in his classic blue and red costume. I remember popping the Spider-Man games into my old PlayStation console and playing the games like there was no end. I also remember installing the Spider-Man 2 tie-in game on my PC and vowing that I would never buy Spider-Man games again… until I got my hands on Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (2008) for my PlayStation Portable.
Sadly, Web of Shadows really was the last Spider-Man game I played, until I got my hands on a copy of The Amazing Spider-Man – although I never really played it.Who knows, perhaps one day I will return to my roots and play all the Spider-Man games again. Until then, I will revel in the fact that both Marvel and myself agree that Classic Spidey is the best Spider-Man.