green-arrow-new-costume-adams-featured

Who Was the First Superhero To Dramatically Alter Their Costume?

In “When We First Met”, we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Today, based on a suggestion from a reader who goes by “Cosmic Lad,” we look into the first instance of a superhero dramatically altering their superhero costume.

“When did DC’s Green arrow change from his VERY plain original outfit that he wore for years to the now more iconic look with the goatee?And in an expansion on that: When did someone so prolific, with a set uniform, first change the look so drastically like that? Like when you look at original silver age JLA comics, most of the heroes looked roughly the same then, through the bronze age, and largely until and often even through the most of the modern age, until everyone started changing costumes all the time in the 90s”

Green Arrow did go through one of the earliest dramatic costume change for a Silver Age hero, moving from the clean-shaven look…

to the more intricate Neal Adams design, along with the added goatee…

However, the original era of dramatic superhero costume changes occurred during the early days of the Golden Age.

Superman, of course, also went through a costume evolution, going from a simple strongman outfit in Action Comics #1 by Joe Shuster…

to a more-defined costume that we would be most familiar with him wearing by Action Comics #10, just with a smaller S…

And once other artists started drawing the character instead of Shuster, the S got bigger and bigger and I think by Superman #9 (with a Fred Ray cover), we were close enough to “the” standard Superman look for me to stop looking for other examples…

However, that’s more about refining an established look. We’re talking about a dramatic change. And the answer to that appears to be clear. In the early days of the Golden Age, a number of superheros were basically modeled after the Shadow and Green Hornet, with costumes that were more functional than ornate. These costumes then became more ornate over time and more like the traditional spandex-style outfit, like Superman and Batman’s costumes.

A good example would be Sandman, introduced in 1939 with essentially a suit, a cape and a gas mask…

But by 1941, he would be redesigned to a more traditional superhero costume (and now had his own Robin-style costumed sidekick, Sandy)…

The first example of this, though, was the Blue Beetle, introduced in Mystery Men Comics #1 wearing a Green Hornet…inspired costume…

In the second issue, he now wore a medieval knight style costume instead…

And soon became the most popular superhero in the book…

So there ya go, Cosmic Lad!

If anyone has a suggestion for a notable comic book first that they’d like to learn, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

In their latest spotlight on notable comic firsts, CSBG reveals who was the first superhero to dramatically alter their superhero costume.

Comments are closed.