Characters : Spider-Man : Costume : Red & Blue

Here's the Basic Spidey costume... Red and Blue - with a few variations.

The Early Days

Here's the basic, original costume from Amazing Fantasy #15. The costume is actually Red and Black, with highlights done in Blue. This is a feature of the color technology of the time. There are large webs beneath the arms, and all eight legs on the Spider point downwards.

The Red and Blue costume has defined Spider-Man for nearly 40 years now. It has seen many variations, but essentially has remained Spidey's most defining characteristic.

The original under-arm webbing covered almost from wrist to waist in the early issues, as shown here in this snapshot from Amazing #5.

As well as probably giving a funny shape to Peter's clothing when worn underneath heas civvies, it probably also took the inker ages to draw, but those obvious impracticalities didn't stop it from lasting through the first thirty issues or so.

Over time, the extent of the underarm webbing shrank even further, until eventually many artists began to omit it all together, as is clearly shown on the cover of ASM #33. Notice also that the costume is now blue, with black shading.

The underarm webbing has re-appeared in various issues, including some quite modern appearances, as a result of the various whims of the artists.

Return of The Red & Blues

With the advent of the Black Costume, the Red and Blues were tucked away for a while - but following the discovery by Reed Richards of the Symbiotic nature of the Black and Whites, the good old R&B's were resurrected in ASM #258, with the caption "The Original is Back".

This story also featured the revelation of Mary Jane's murky family history, and those two events combine to bump up the value of this issue.

Larsen's Licence

One interesting note is that Erik Larson's run on Amazing (following Todd McFarlane's popular issues) saw him frequently drawing the costume as Red and Black, with blue highlights, as in the early days. This wasn't very consistent from issue to issue, but was a noticible feature in some issues, such as #341, from which this picture is taken.

Make Way For Spider-Ben

The red and blue costume remained essentially unchanged for a few years after that. Peter did slip back into a regular cloth version of the Black Costume for a while, but when Mary-Jane complained that it reminded her of Venom, the Black and White's were permanently tossed out.

The next major revamp took place when Mark Bagley (Design) and Dan Jurgens (Art) began Sensational #0 with the first appearance of Ben Reilly as Spider-Man. This sharp new look featured the external web-shooters from the Scarlet Spider costume, the two-color gloves, and a general stylistic revamp.

For interest, here's one of the prototypes for the new costume. Some aspects were kept for the final revamp, e.g. the large spider, and the blue fingers on the gloves.

This was shown in the Spider-Man Collector's Preview, from 1994.

Raimi's Re-Invention

Here's the movie version! Pretty much faithful in terms of the colouring and layout, but a serious improvement in the look.

This sleek latex version is a long way from a pair of silk-screened long-johns!

Other Minor Variations

There's a few other subtle variations which are perhaps worth a mention:

  1. The eye holes started off small, and have grown gradually but steadily over the years.
  2. The blue of the red-and-blues has varied, being quite light for a while during the 70's.
  3. The spider on the chest has also changed size up and down.
  4. The 8 legs on the spider used to point down (e.g. AF #15), but now it's 4 down 4 up. The change seemed to happen in the comics running up to ASM #200.
Most of these just reflect the mood of the artist, and the influence of drawing styles popular at the time - such as the Manga style, which significantly over-emphasises the size of the eyes.

Oh, and in Spectacular Spider-Man #213 the penciller (James Fry) drew the chest spider upside-down the entire issue. Heh, nobody's perfect!

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