Comics books have always gone for an interesting dynamic with female characters. From the start, women have been clad in rather revealing outfits, from Wonder Woman to today and that’s unlikely to change. It’s obvious from a sales perspective but other times, a character is able to make it work and have it iconic. There’s also how some outfits may seem wild but fitting for the character. Power Girl and She-Hulk can get away with running around in skimpy outfits as they’re basically invulnerable. Catwoman’s skintight outfit is perfect for a burglar to get around in and Black Widow’s jumpsuit is fitting for a spy. So while those outfits may be revealing, they work.
However, a lot of costumes just don’t. Some are because they’re way too skimpy or revealing. Some because of how they’re completely impractical and not fitting the character. And some because they’re just so damn ugly looking. That was really true in the 1990s when the industry was going to women in next to nothing all over the place and it took a while to get out of that. Here are 20 female comic book characters (hero and villain) who have had some of the most outrageous looks imaginable.
Here's where we get to an iconic look that really doesn’t make sense when you think about it. Now, for a stage act, Zatanna is gorgeous in a tuxedo jacket, top hat, bustier, shorts and fishnets with heels. It’s when she tries her hand at super-hero antics that it becomes crazy as the heels should be tripping her up and the exposed flesh not as helpful in a major fight. She has her magic to back her up and actually did wear a regular hero outfit for a while but as a super-hero costume, it’s among the less practical you can find.
19 Star Sapphire
Originally, the villainess appeared in the 1960s as a sort of female counterpart to Green Lantern, his love Carol Ferris turned by an alien gem into a criminal in a nice purple bodysuit. In 2008, the character returned, now part of a much larger corps and got a huge “sexy” makeover. Now, the uniforms flowed from a large headset/mask to their shoulders and then around the sides, leaving basically their entire tops exposed except for slight covering over the chest and then sweeping over the crotch. Sure, they have their rings to create force fields around them but that still means you have Carol and other Sapphires flying through space all while preaching themselves as representing “true love.” Talk about a mixed message.
Say what you will about this woman (like she’s an arrogant telepath who uses other people like playthings) - you have to give props to the fact the lady is able to make a costume out of what appears to be a single piece of fabric. Some artists have tried to add on to it but many prefer the skimpy look as it’s just a cape, boots and a green sash wrapped around her chest and lower body. Her bald head just makes it all the more prominent as she’s gorgeous but considering many of her adventures take place in outer space just makes it crazier she runs in almost nothing and thus earns a place on this list.
17 Power Girl ('90s)
We all know Power Girl’s famous white outfit that pushes up her “assets” and it’s revealing to be sure. But during the 1990s, she wore an even crazier outfit. Almost totally fitting her skin, a blue and white mix, her window even larger and more prominent in a diamond shape with large shoulder pads, a neck brace and a short cape. Topping it all off was a headband covering her hair, which was now cut into a mullet. It was just a God-awful look for her and shows what happens when you move too far away from a classic look to something far worse.
16 Boom Boom
Poor Tabitha Smith never had a chance. Created in the ‘80s, she was an adult’s idea of what a typical teenager was in hideous mall clothes and her later New Mutants uniform looking like an airline pilot. She switched to a truly bizarre outfit of a pink bodysuit with yellow trimming spelling “Boom Boom” on her leg and shoulder pads an NFL player would find excessive. But leave it to Rob Liefeld to give her the most ludicrous: basically, nothing but leather straps across her body with “peekaboo” windows across her mid-section and legs and a yellow bra. Add that to Leifeld’s infamous inability to draw an actual human being and it was a horrific look and shows that when it comes to costumes, the character truly bombs out.
15 Emma Frost
Another famous case - while her first appearances were certainly hot, the 2000s saw the White Queen really ramp up the sex appeal. Her tight white corset soon became a very loose top that left her shoulders and belly bare. While she did wear long pants a lot, Emma would take to garters, her large high-heeled boots and cape, flaunting her body as much as she could. That fit the character but still a wild look and thus how Emma can be run down on just her looks rather than her true strengths but there’s no denying that amazing sex appeal as we all love a bad girl.
14 Polaris ('90s)
It was meant as a joke. During his acclaimed run on X-Factor, writer Peter David had Polaris complaining about men not seeing her as hot and so decided to change her image up with an outfit meant to be mocking the sexist outfits of super-heroines: Red boots that went up to her hips, a golden top pushing up her breasts, red gloves and a strange non-mask head covering. But Joe Quesada’s drawing actually got readers going and so Polaris kept the costume up for a while despite how ridiculous it looked in battle. Just goes to show what fans expected in the ‘90s.
From her debut, Storm was notable for her great costume, showing some skin but her arm coverings allowing a great visual of herself in flight and her long white hair making her truly look like a goddess. In 1983, driven by rough events, Storm decided to do a major makeover, taking up dark leather pants and sleeveless jacket, a leather collar and her hair now a mohawk. It added to a harder edge in battle and her teammates were pretty rocked by it. As crazy as it seemed, Storm kept the look up for several years and while it looked daring at the time, it hasn’t aged well as the Wind-Rider shouldn’t look like Easy Rider.
The character first appeared from an alternate Earth where she was the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. She thus paid homage to each in her crime fighting outfit, knee-high purple boots, long cape, yellow belt and showing off a lot of cleavage. She was changed to the daughter of a slain mobster out for revenge, showing off even more skin. Amazingly, she spent the ‘90s in a truly sensible outfit that covered her totally which made sense as an urban avenger. But then Jim Lee had to change her to a costume with ultra short-shorts, open belly and a clunky shoulder brace/cape, not the sort of thing that screams running around rooftops (and the gold boomerang clasps make no sense). The white trim outlining her breasts doesn’t help either and thus a character who had a perfectly good outfit had to surrender to “sexing it up.”
11 Poison Ivy
For several years, she went around in basically a green jumpsuit with a little leaf added to it and it made sense. But in recent years, this long-time Batman villainess has decided clothes are just a total waste. It does make sense given her “Mother Earth” mentality and her green skin as well as seducing anyone near her. Still, even by the standards of Gotham baddies, walking around in nothing but rings of leaves and figs around her body is pushing it and while it showcases how hot she is, you’d think someone so attuned to plants would be nervous exposing herself to so much dirt and grime.
10 Red Sonja
Another case of an iconic look that really doesn’t make much sense. She’s a fantastic warrior, the female Conan but the fact she runs around in a metal silver bikini doesn’t exactly make her a great role model. She’s hot to be sure with her lush long red hair and such but it’s more than a bit off to see her in everything from a desert to even snowy mountains in a suit that must chafe like hell and leaves her wide open to injuries and attacks. Some argue it shows how great a warrior she is to put up with it (Conan basically just wears a loincloth himself) but that doesn’t make it any less outrageous.
9 Scarlet Witch
George Perez is considered one of the greatest artists of all time, amazing in his detail and most believe he renders some of the more realistic characters in comics. So it’s ironic that he gave the Scarlet Witch her most revealing and impractical costume ever. Meant to reflect her gypsy roots, we have a tight bustier, bare midriff, a sarong with sash showing off her bare legs and boots and a cape that goes to her ankles. How she doesn’t trip at least ten times a mission is astounding and makes her look far more like a refugee from a Bond flick than a serious witch, a rare misfire for an otherwise great artist.
8 Invisible Woman ('90s)
The 1990s were a rough patch for the Fantastic Four with some crazy stories, drawn-out plots and too much in the “edgy” times. A big example was what they did to Susan Richards. The woman long shown as a strong mother who didn’t trade on her looks suddenly changed from the solid blue FF uniform into a stripper outfit: blue and white with bare shoulders and stomach, lots of leg before knee-high boots and of course a “4”-shaped hole in the middle of her chest. It was totally out of character, looked ridiculous in a fight and they would have to explain Susan was manipulated by the evil spirit Malice. Speaking of which…
John Byrne’s run on Fantastic Four is considered one of the greatest in that book’s history with terrific plots and action. But in one storyline, Byrne created a look that was in many ways the precursor to the crazy costumes of the ‘90s. Manipulated by the Pyscho Man and the Hate-Monger, Susan took on the outfit of Malice and Byrne went all-out with it. A torn red-and-black cape, high boots, a black suit that showed off her belly, a chain bra and a spiked collar and mask. It was a wild image and it served the story but it seems Byrne was ahead of his time when it came to an outfit to turn a beautiful woman into a total mess.
6 Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose
Everything wrong with comic book women in the ‘90s can be summed up with this. Just look at her. A gold and black bikini that a Sports Illustrated model would balk at, gold circles on her bra which holds back a chest that defies human genetics, a black mask and shoulder pads with horns in her red hair. It’s like someone took every cliché of “hot magic women,” threw them in a blender and hit the “mix” button. Having a pentagram formed by her wire bra frame just adds the icing on this cheesecake and how you can go too far with the “hot woman” image.
Yes, she’s a vampire so she doesn’t have to worry as much about getting hurt as others. And yes, it’s an iconic look that’s made her instantly recognizable even if you’ve never read the comic. But the fact is, the woman goes around in an outfit that a Playboy centerfold would find skimpy. Her lush black hair does add to it and it’s certainly famous but still a bit much to read the comics of her running around fighting other creatures of the night in an easily torn outfit is pretty crazy and has to rank high on this list.
From the start, this orange-skinned alien was pushed for her stunning beauty and lack of inhibitions, often asking why she needed to wear clothing at all. Her first outfit was pretty racy for the 1980s, barely more than a bikini with straps covering her chest, showing off plenty of her body. She would undergo a few changes, most prominently a 2010 look that had a purple carapace linked to barely covering her chest, her orange hair glowing around her. It’s amazing the character was turned into a popular kids cartoon series but she has become a tad more conservative in costumes since. Still, these outfits show how this alien is a standout with her wild look.
3 Wonder Woman
After doing it to Superman and Batman, it was inevitable Wonder Woman would fall prey to DC’s ‘90s craze of “replace iconic hero with a new version.” Thus, Diana lost a contest to fellow Amazon Artemis and had to give up being Wonder Woman. Deciding to be a hero on her own, the usually friendly Diana took on a hard edge, keeping her silver bracelets but a costume that was ultra-short leather shorts that left her legs widely exposed, her top basically a bra with collar and belt across her abs and a short leather jacket. It was the most bizarre shift you could imagine and basically all that was wrong with DC at the time so it’s no surprise Diana would regain her status fast as you really shouldn’t mess with the classics.
A famous case to be sure. The character was compelling as Chicago cop Sara Pezzini comes into possession of a gauntlet handed down over centuries that turns her into a super-powered demon fighter. Given how it was created at the height of the 1990’s Image craze, it may not be a surprise that Michael Turner decided the Witchblade would manifest itself with metallic tendrils over Sara, barely covering her breasts and crotch and at times, basically a metal thong. All while she battled demons and other dark forces and the fact the transformation ruined any clothes she was wearing just made it crazier. Later artists would tone it down so the Witchblade covered Sara in more practical full-body armor but it’s the skimpy image that most think of. A shame that a character so fun had to be clouded by so much cheesecake.
The reason Mystique tops the list of wild outfits is simple: she never wears any.
When the mutant terrorist first showed up, fans assumed her ability to almost instantly take on the form of anyone she saw was an illusion. But as it was made clear that she really did shift her body, that meant that she had to change from her usual white robes to suits to costumes which meant they couldn’t be real cloth. While it’s not stated that often, it’s pretty clear that Mystique basically is completely naked, her “clothing” just her skin shifting into these outfits. The movies made it much more obvious with the blue skin and scales to make the shifting more believable and while she keeps to her “robed” look, the fact of the matter is, when you see Mystique, no matter who she looks like, she’s walking around naked and thus a pretty outrageous persona.