Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Superman can do it all—including accessorizing with some rather amazing suits as super as the man who wears them. Iconic costumes have always been a big part of the appeal of superheroes, and who is as iconic as the Man of Steel?
Okay, arguably Batman or Spider-Man. But don’t worry. We’ll be making lists for them, too, as a part of our new “Top Ten” series. We just won’t be covering them today. Today, we’re looking at Kal-El’s greatest looks throughout the Multiverse in honor of the character’s 83rd anniversary. The Last Son of Krypton has definitely had some fantastic adaptations with dynamic and iconic costumes to boot. Still, this list will focus solely on his appearance throughout his decades-long history in the comics.
With every version of Superman throughout the Multiverse, there are some pretty great looks to choose from. Throwing in all the movies and shows would’ve made this list a lot harder to narrow down. Instead, we chose to take a look at different Superman from across time and space to make up the definitive list of Superman’s Greatest Costumes. Some you may agree with. Others you may find surprising. And a few, you may find old-fashioned. Either way, each of these looks has brought something special to the Man of Steel’s rich history. And every single one of these suits has stuck in the minds of fans of all ages.
So without further ado, let’s get right into it!
TOP TEN GREATEST SUPERMAN SUITS
10. Red Son
First Appearance: Superman: Red Son #1 by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, Andrew Robinson, and more
Set on Earth-30 within the DC Multiverse, Superman: Red Son takes place in a world much different from the one most fans are familiar with. On this Earth, Superman landed in the USSR instead of Smallville. Raised by the Soviets, Kal-El becomes Stalin’s champion and turns his homeland into the dominant power on Earth. Recently, this fan-favorite storyline even got an animated movie. You can find the graphic novel here. Unlike his traditional primary colors, this suit’s harsh greys set a harsher tone for the Man of Steel. Furthermore, his usual red takes on a different meaning after growing up under Josef Stalin. And with the hammer and sickle in place of his family crest, the Red Son suit is an interesting Elseworlds take on a classic archetype.
9. Superman Blue
First Appearance: Superman #123 by Dan Jurgens, Ron Frenz, and Joe Rubinstein
When Superman’s abilities were altered after the events of The Final Night by Karl Kessel and Stuart Immonen, the Last Son of Krypton became a being of pure energy, and his powers no longer functioned the same way. To focus his abilities, he wore a specialized containment suit. This white and blue costume reflected his new status and powers. The white bolts and more stylized ‘S’ mirrored his electrifying new abilities, with the blue signifying his more energized physical form. In comparison, this suit was a striking departure from the classic look, but not without its fans.
8. President Superman
First Appearance: Action Comics #9 by Grant Morrison, Gene Ha, and Cully Hamner
The Superman of DC’s Earth-23, Calvin Ellis, also known as President Superman, is the Commander in Chief of his Earth’s United States of America. Calvin also leads Justice Incarnate, a multiversal team that fans will see in Infinite Frontier by Joshua Williamson and Xermanico. Calvin’s suit bears a strong resemblance to the suit Superman wore throughout the New 52, but with its own unique color scheme. The yellow/red inverse of the traditional ‘S’ sets this suit apart. And the black along the boots, belt, and gauntlets mark a sense of power. The dynamic cape sets it apart from other suits and adds to the alien feel of Calvin’s look. It will be interesting to see whether we’ll get something like this in the upcoming Superman film being written by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
7. The New Frontier
First Appearance: DC’s The New Frontier #1 by Darwyn Cooke
Right out of the pages of DC’s The New Frontier, the Superman of Earth-21 is an oldie but a goodie. Heavily influenced by the old Max Fleischer Superman cartoons, this Superman harkens back to an era when the possibilities for discovery were endless. The New Frontier was set in real-time with the onset of the Silver Age of comics and the founding of the Justice League in the 1960s. As such, the suit feels looser and more homemade, in touch with the aesthetic of its storyline. The yellow outline of the Superman crest with a black background forcing the red to stand out even more. This suit is a perfect throwback look for the modern-day Superman fan.
First Appearance: Action Comics #957 by Dan Jurgens, Patrick Zircher, and Tomeu Morey
Superman’s first suit during DC’s Rebirth was a movement towards a more classic look than seen in the New 52. Darker than previous suits, the deep navy making the red cape pop even more. This costume had more than a bit in common with the suit worn by Henry Cavill in the DCEU. With a thin red belt serving to break up the blue, the streamlined look really made the Superman crest stand out. This look was more alien/sci-fi than many of Clark’s other looks while simultaneously coming off as more traditional for Superman than we’d seen years prior.
5. Val Zod
First Appearance: Earth 2 #24 by Tom Taylor, Nicola Scott, and Eddy Barrows
The second Superman of DC’s Earth-2, Val was the son of his universe’s Zod. Making his name as Superman, Val was a pacifist who took up the mantle after this Earth’s Kal-El was corrupted by the forces of Apokolips. What really makes this suit stand out is its color scheme. The sky blue with the white is a unique take that sets Val apart from any other Superman before him. Though the white is somewhat similar to the evil Justice Lord Superman from the DCAU, it presents a more hopeful and restorative aesthetic. The suit radiates peace, something Earth-2 Superman desperately needed to inspire.
4. Kingdom Come
First Appearance: Kingdom Come #1 by Mark Waid and Alex Ross
From the pages of DC’s Kingdom Come, the Superman of Earth-21, this world’s Clark wears a costume more fitting to the grim nature of his universe. After Kansas is wiped off the map, Superman is forced to come out of the ten-year retirement after the murder of Lois Lane. A somewhat classic look with a slightly darker color scheme and a harsher, more stylized ‘S,’ the crest reflects the darker world he’s fighting in and the tougher choices he has to make. The colder look signifies his disillusionment and his putting the Super before the Man. A fan-favorite look, and for a good reason, this suit even appeared in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover on the CW, worn by Brandon Routh, reprising his role from Superman Returns.
3. The Black Suit
First Appearance: Action Comics #689 by Roger Stern, Jackson Guice, and Denis Rodier
One of Superman’s most well-known alternate looks, Superman’s black suit has been a fan-favorite for years. A solar suit designed to power him up quicker and heal him, Clark wore this after he returned from his death at the hands of Doomsday. Years later, a bearded Clark sported an updated version in DC Comics’ Superman: Lois and Clark by Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks. Despite only appearing for a couple of issues, this suit had staying power. With a powerful black and silver color scheme, this suit stands out as one of Clark’s darker looks despite typically being associated with his life and rebirth. Recently, fans finally got to see this suit in live-action thanks to Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Though it may not be the first suit that comes to mind when you think “Classic Superman,” it’s still pretty darn cool.
First Appearance: Action Comics #143 by William Woolfolk and Al Plastino
Speaking of Classic Superman, what more could be said about this iconic Superman look? It positively is Superman. Even if the trunks are a bit old-fashioned, Superman is pretty much the only character in which they’re always going to work even to this day. It presents a classic, hopeful aesthetic, with bright primary colors and the iconic ‘S’ shield in gold on the back of the cape. And it’s the first look that comes to mind when someone thinks of Superman. There’s a reason why Brian Michael Bendis brought this look back when he took over DC’s Superman and Action Comics titles after The Man of Steel miniseries. It’s the quintessential superhero template…dorky shorts and all.
1. Superman Reborn
First Appearance: Action Comics #976 by Dan Jurgens, Doug Mahnke, and Jaime Mendoza
Potentially a surprise #1 after gushing over the classic look, Clark’s suit from Superman: Reborn by Pete Tomasi, Dan Jurgens, Patrick Gleason, and Doug Mahnke really takes the cake. A perfect modernization of the classic look, this version undoubtedly encapsulates what’s great about Clark for a more contemporary aesthetic. Even the suit from the CW’s Superman and Lois series bears a striking resemblance. For fans who prefer their Superman sans trunks, the stylized belt fills the void while breaking up the bright blue of the suit. Plenty of fans were upset that this look didn’t stick around longer, and we can hardly blame them. But with any luck, we haven’t seen the last of what’s definitely Superman’s Greatest Costume.
What do you think of our rankings for Superman’s Greatest Costumes? What are some top ten lists that you’d like to see? Have you taken a look at our list of the greatest Batman villains? Let us know down in the comments below!