Alright I'll admit the title's a little unclear and, as its moniker suggests, this is one of those top ten lists that only the long-running, 'hardcore', and truly devoted Spidey-fans are gonna want to read, but hopefully those of you still interested will back me up one crucial point: there is nothing worse than seeing one of your favourite Super-heroes/villains change costume.
Before I present my ten least favourite examples of this rule's application, I would like to propose a possible explanation for the emotional turmoil a costume change causes us, and it's very much the same reason as that which prevents us from getting quite the same buzz whilst reading the contemporary spider-tomes as we get reading the 60's, 70's and even 80's ones: the bright colours, man. Much as we hate to admit it, and much as we pride ourselves in our appreciation of the subtle nuances of a character's psyche, we all wanna see guys in multi-coloured, skin-tight (Freud be damned), highly unrealistic clothing pummelling each other with wildly outrageous powers and weaponry from - I dunno - Mars or something, oh no wait, Galactus's home-world, that's always a popular one; can't go wrong with implements borrowed from Glactus's home-world.
Anyway, we're all suckers for the campy, psychedelic costumes is basically what I'm saying here - hell, that's the reason we picked the damn comic up in the first place, right? How many comic-virgins do you see reaching straight for Preacher? Actually, I'll rephrase that, how many comic-virgin's who aren't just planning on reading graphic novels so that they can bring them up in conversation and sound all underground and subversively intellectual do you see reaching straight for Preacher? Not many, that's how many. Alright, you want a top ten list? Well stick this in your pipe and toke it:
- (Yeah, I'm going in reverse numerical order - big woop, wanna fight about it?) Alright, this one's not the most fantastic, but hey, we're still at ten and besides I gotta get this one off my chest. Just what the Fully Utilized Compact Kitchen was up with that Sandman costume he started wearing a few decades back? Ah, the old 'look-like-a-bear-trap' gambit that was so in back then. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but was there not some kind of crown or something incorporated in that obscene get-up? It's the look to go for in, say, Visionaries or Centurions or even a particularly outlandish episode of Prince Valiant (and don't get me started about Prince Valiant), but Spidey? Hell, if you can get away with brown slacks and a stripey green t-shirt and look damn cool then don't go alluding to my introductory 'we love spandex' rant just for the sake of it. Oh look, now you've gone and gotten yourself all excited before bedtime, tell you what, go have a bath and maybe I'll read you a story. Sorry about that - just a frustration induced flashback. Onward.
- "Get the hell away from my real limbs" said Doc Ock as Howard 'the duck' Mackie brought out his best art-gum and said to John Byrne "Alright John, it's too confusing for the simple readers, and let's face it, that's who I'm pitching to here, if Doc Ock has two real arms, four artificial ones and two heavily burdened legs; it makes the whole 'counting to eight' thing waaay to tricky. Let's try making them all mechanical and see if that helps". "But Duckie (this is an informal discussion remember)", says John, in protest "I've been drawing for marvel for decades, I did some of the best X-Men strips of the seventies, and never have I heard a complaint about the Doc. Wait a second, you're not still thinking of going through with this 'Chapter One' thing are you?" "Johnny, we've been through this." Well, you get the idea. Shame on you Mackie - a plague on your house.
- The Trapster. Woah, with a name like that, he's got to be dynamite! Alright, so the name change from Paste-Pot-Pete was probably for the best, but you've got to keep some kind of visual representation of how rubbish he is, and I thought the 'serving maid from a Ladybird book' headgear was a perfect testament to this, but apparently the face-bandana from Spider-Man: Redemption (you remember the sequel to 'The Better-Off Lost Years' don't you?) is the way to go.
- Clear your head of all distractions. Someone shouts out 'Hobgoblin!' - what do you see in your mind's eye? You see orange, you see blue, you see a cool baddy with one of the few successful hood-meets-cape costumes around and already you want to wallow in work pencilled by the young Romita and inked by his dad. Suddenly, heathens start shouting 'bondage straps' and 'strange and unnecessary cybernetic enhancements'. Difficult to believe that such a horrific goblin makeover could have spewed from the chiselled graphite of a Romita, but this was during JRJR's lazy phase, you know, the one where he just kept drawing those annoying square exo-suits on everyone - ooh that made me mad.
- Right, number 6, let's see - who's nice and middle-of-the-road? Oh, I know - The Vulture. A vulture is an evil looking bird. Adrian Toomes copied that look nicely, and then thought 'I fancy being young for a bit'. Stupid man. Change your age and you'll have to change your costume and even the insurmountable Mark Bagley won't be able to help you. The newer green dinner-suit with tails idea is a step on the road to recovery though.
- Ok, we're halfway, it's getting closer to the unveiling of the worst ever costume change, but dissent from the actions of our ten protagonists and keep your pants on, we've got a ways to go yet. Next up, everyone's favourite saga starter, the Jackal. There it is. That 'oh god not him, I'd almost forgotten about all that' feeling. Well, sorry to bring him up, but let's face it, we all know what that was about - I mean just look at the more recent incarnation of the Jackal. Does that say Jackal to you, or does it say re-vamped green goblin? He had goblin dialogue (y'know, all that sardonic, under the breath, ooh-what-a-entertaining-baddie-I-am crap), he had green skin (that looked a lot less like fur than it used to) pointy ears (ok, so he always had them), an elongated, Punch and Judy style face and now, thanks to his new, flowing locks, he even had the coveted Green Goblin widow's peak. Of course, DeMatties would never dare resurrect the Green Goblin, that's far too audacious; best leave it to Howard Mackie, that's his bag.
- Ok, I'll level with you, I'm not entirely sure if it was old Danny Berkhart behind the guise of the domeless Mysterio, but whoever it was can really just piss off. Oh and some more bondage straps too. Great. I want him at my party, Mum, no not the cool one with the fish-bowl for a head, that runty little bound-up twerp with a voguish design, and I want him drawn by Dan Jurgens as well just to piss everyone off that little bit more.
Alright it's the home stretch and let's celebrate with Spidey's only entry in our chart, but which one is it? The black costume? No, of course not. Everyone knows the Black Costume rocks. Cosmic Spidey? Like hell. He was reassuringly transient and we knew it. Hornet? Dusk? Kieth Flint, sorry, I mean Prodigy? Ricochet? Nope. It's our boy Ben!
"Let's update the Spidey-Costume, guys, it's looking a bit dated"
"No it's not, it's timeless"
"Shut up, Stan, genius has had its day. I know, why don't we just use the old one, but make it look a bit crapper, oh and stick the web shooters on the outside - y'know, kid them into thinking it's Nicholas Hammond."
And so a legend was reborn. Shortly afterwards he was reborn again. They'll get the hang of this Rebirth thing one day. Maybe they'll ask David Wise for help, he was always good with that sort of thing.
- Alright, it's a bit of a surprise, most of the three people still reading this were probably pegging it for Number One, but it was not to be. It is, of course, the Green Goblin costume from Spider-Man the Movie. He went from classic Halloween-esque crusader to Power Rangers baddie in one fell swoop and it took all that money to get there. So many possibilities, so many promising preliminary sketches and it all fell apart so easily. That was all the film needed to be great, the right costume for Gobby and they went and cocked it up. The words to describe it are too obscene to type
- Ok, so what is it? What could be worse than the previous example of costume foolery? Well, I'll admit that the axe being ground here is a personal one, but anyone who changes Electro's costume deserves to fry. He was the most outlandishly dressed villain in Spidey's rogues galley and they changed him. Forget a friggin' fishbowl, this boy had a star on his face and I loved it. First they got rid of the sparky mask, then changed his costume entirely, it was like the girl (or guy) you love cheating on you and then leaving you altogether. Bring back the classic green and yellow, Marvel, or I will never forgive you.
Well, that's it. 'Nuff Said.