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Posted by inferiorego (28275 posts) - - Show Bio

The 1990s were a time of grunge music, Mountain Dew, and the X-Games. It was the beginning of the over-saturation of the comic book market place, and it was a time when comic book companies would do anything, and I mean anything, to gain new readership. One of those things was to make all your favorite heroes a little bit more extreme by putting them in armor.
 
It happened a few times, and as you can see below, three of these examples come from Marvel comics: Captain America, Daredevil, and Spider-Man. Why are these guys wearing metal costumes, what purpose does it serve, and was this a good or bad idea?

== TEASER ==
Much like what the Medieval knights, during the Dark Ages, wore centuries ago, three classic Marvel characters jumped into armor of their own during the Marvel Dark Age. In an attempt to update the character's style for a new generation of XTREME readers, Mavel took a big risk by weighing down some of their big stars in metal costumes. 
 
Take Captain America, for example. Mobility aside, his greatest defense is his shield. When you put old Steve Rogers in armor, it takes the defensive component of the shield away and makes that object just a offensive component. He no longer has to rely on his agility or strategy while wearing armor because he can just charge into battle and not have to worry about being shot. The same goes for Daredevil and Spider-Man, both of these characters rely on agility and strategy, but you put a bunch of metal on them, and the need for both of those is no where near as important as it used to be. Especially with Spider-Man who, at the time, relied heavily on his "spider-sense." Why bother paying attention to that when you can take a bullet to the chest no problem.
 
 Hawkeye, Vision, and Giant Man. You're guilty of looking foolish.
At least it looked cool, right? It's a bit of a trick question. Maybe for its time these guys looked really cool, but in hindsight, not so much. It's became more of a gimmick. Many of us wondered, "who's going to show up in metal armor next?" Captain America and Spider-Man look ridiculous now, but weirdly enough, Daredevil still looks pretty darn cool. Out of the tons of people that armored up during the 90s, including the ridiculous Batman costume Jean-Paul Valley dawned in the Knightfall arc, Daredevil's armored costume is the only one that really stood the test of time. 
 
Again, it was a sign of the times. The 80s will always be known for the darker, more brooding stories and characters, and the 90s will be known for muscles, pouches, and armor. It reflected our own American culture. We were prospering and had more than we needed, so super-heroes did the same, and they had a little bit more than they needed, but instead of a new video game system or circular cardboard cut-outs with pictures on them AKA Pogs, super-heroes added over-sized pieces of armor to their arsenal. 
It makes you wonder. Were War Machine and Iron Man not enough for the general public? Were they clamoring for more heroes in suits of armor? If memory serves me correctly, they weren't. It isn't all bad though. Yes, the gimmick is pretty lame looking back, but I applaud Marvel for trying something new. It was leaps and bounds cooler than the M2 Universe, but not as cool as the 2099 Universe (sorry, but I'm still a fan). And while I still fail to see the reasoning other than "it looked cool then," Marvel could have done some lamer things to these characters (like make one of them a teenager... I'm looking at you Tony Stark). What do you guys think of armored characters who normally wear spandex? Is it cool? Which characters that I overlooked did you like in armor? 
 
Mat Elfring is a comedian, teacher, writer, and comic store employee.
Follow his antics on twitter: @ inferiorego
#1 Posted by RYU/BATMAN (388 posts) - - Show Bio

Steel had armor in the 90's also. I guess it was just in season in the 90's

#2 Posted by PrinceIMC (5422 posts) - - Show Bio

Like too many pockets and really giant guns it was a fad.....though every once in a while we got the pocket thing again.
#3 Posted by Bestostero (5590 posts) - - Show Bio

Because of these guys!!! 
#4 Posted by cattlebattle (13347 posts) - - Show Bio

It has nothing to do with armor, but the the 90's also gave us Kung Fu outfit Wonder Woman.......WTF?!?
#5 Edited by SigersonLTD (135 posts) - - Show Bio

Batman donned Armor in the 80's first. When the Dark Knight returned. Lest we forget. 
 
Armor, is cool. 
 
So say we all!!! 

#6 Posted by Nasher (97 posts) - - Show Bio

Coz even superheroes can be fashion victims.

#7 Posted by noj (1090 posts) - - Show Bio

Aww come on man the Jean Paul Valley Bat armor was, and still is awesome! Plus the Spider-armor really isnt a huge offender, I mean he only wore it for one issue, and it had its purpose in the story. Plus I think it still looks pretty darn cool

#8 Posted by Jake Fury (19196 posts) - - Show Bio

Darkhawk was cool.
#9 Posted by TheBatman (27 posts) - - Show Bio

I didn't mind charaters suiting up in armor so long as the situation called for it. 
But when it was kinda there, simply for the sake of it....? Nah, kinda dumb =P
#10 Posted by TDK_1997 (15069 posts) - - Show Bio

Cap and Spidey really looked ridiculous but Daredevil looked amazing.

#11 Posted by onekillerklown (4 posts) - - Show Bio

one word Onslaught!
#12 Posted by twisted17 (26 posts) - - Show Bio

Az-Bats was possibly the BEST armor adaptation for a comics character any day!

#13 Posted by NightFang (10259 posts) - - Show Bio

The Jean Paul Valley Bat-armor  was the best!!! 

#14 Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus (6836 posts) - - Show Bio

If I'm not mistaken, Cap had to don armor after a 90s storyline labeled "Fighting Chance" because he got like really injured or something.  Still, it did make him look slightly ridiculous since one would think the Super Soldier Serum would be enough.  Ah the 90s, takes me back.  I like how it was said the 90s were an era of "muscles, pouches, and armor." But I would go further to say that the 90s was also the era of the clone, the most glaring examples being obviously Superboy and Scarlett Spider.

#15 Posted by GothamRed (2553 posts) - - Show Bio

Come on now, if you weren't wearing armor in the 90s you were nothing.  Mine was made of kevlar, with a cast stell portions to add some flare.    

#16 Posted by GothamRed (2553 posts) - - Show Bio

I feel this could qualify: 

#17 Posted by Doctor!!!!! (1886 posts) - - Show Bio

Armored Heroes were the best type of Awesome!!!!  
Those heroes were my childhood!!

#18 Posted by xerox_kitty (15762 posts) - - Show Bio

That's what's lacking in today's comics... we need MORE armour and MORE pouches!  Especialy the tiny garter leg pouches! ;)    
#19 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23238 posts) - - Show Bio
@xerox-kitty said:
" That's what's lacking in today's comics... we need MORE armour and MORE pouches!  Especialy the tiny garter leg pouches! ;)     "
Everyone be cool, xerox-kitty has been brainwashed by Rob Liefeld. We must tread gently. =P
#20 Posted by GL 2411 (70 posts) - - Show Bio

Hawkeye went with armor for a handful of issues. His gigantic quiver still didn't save him from getting his tail kicked by USAgent. 
 

#21 Edited by gridlock464 (82 posts) - - Show Bio

The best thing about Jean Paul Valley was the Bat-armor. I never really liked the idea of how post hypnotic suggestions gave him all his skills... but that’s me and I’m probably in the minority and I’m okay with that.

I think adding armor as long as it is an integral part of the story is okay, The daredevil armored look was cool, but I think the sweetest costume yet was that black ninja outfit he wore during shadowland.          

#22 Posted by stephaniebrite (30 posts) - - Show Bio

Don't forget about Alex Ross' armoured superheros in Kingdom Come.. those were just awesome.

#23 Posted by Joe Venom (1275 posts) - - Show Bio

Oh yea I remember this fad, almost every character I created was armor influence I even made a character named "Armore!"  Why?! because he wore 'more' armor then anyone! and for that I got to give props to these guys:
 



#24 Posted by I'maDC/ImageGuy! (1634 posts) - - Show Bio

90'sFTW!!!!!! Broken characters and radical shoulder pads with ridicules Armour.

#25 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23238 posts) - - Show Bio

The 90s, if you couldn't make it into a toy; don't write it.

#26 Posted by Trodorne (2498 posts) - - Show Bio
@FadeToBlackBolt said:
" @xerox-kitty said:
" That's what's lacking in today's comics... we need MORE armour and MORE pouches!  Especialy the tiny garter leg pouches! ;)     "
Everyone be cool, xerox-kitty has been brainwashed by Rob Liefeld. We must tread gently. =P "
LMAO
#27 Posted by MichaelSimpson (17 posts) - - Show Bio
@xhavoc86:
Why Else?
#28 Posted by inferiorego (28275 posts) - - Show Bio
@FadeToBlackBolt said:
" The 90s, if you couldn't make it into a toy; don't write it. "
HAHAHAHAHA!
#29 Posted by Fantasgasmic (1033 posts) - - Show Bio

It's funny, the one thing I liked about JP Valley's first armor, and the one thing I think stands the  "test of time" is his mask/cowl. And when they redesigned his armor to be more armory and extreme they only changed his cape and cowl, yet left the ridiculous spikes on his pants. I guess I also like that he didn't have a bat-diaper, but that's not enough to outweigh the rest of the ugliness. 

#30 Posted by Spiderslike (646 posts) - - Show Bio

I think the armor thing came from writers realizing that the audience was getting older and noticed that sense a lot of people don't have super speed then they asked the question what would they do against a simple bullet? Spider-Man's armor was real short because he's not only super fast but had a warning sense ,but Cap and DD where still basically normal. Only really recently did writers give better reasons as to why they where so fast. At least thats' what I think.

#31 Posted by zombietag (1483 posts) - - Show Bio

mountain dew? what about SURGE?!

#32 Posted by Soldier zero (250 posts) - - Show Bio

The armor concept isn't entirely '90s, Cap costume has always been depicted as a chainmail and thee Bat-Suit is pretty much the wet dream of every fanatic of body armors.
On one hand it makes sense that a superhero who isn't bulletproof or super-fast to wear some kind of protection. On the other those particular suit of armor were just a way to put more spikes angles, armored pauldrons and other stuff on character who doesn't really need them.

#33 Posted by inferiorego (28275 posts) - - Show Bio
@zombietag said:
" mountain dew? what about SURGE?! "
Surge is a poor man's Mountain Dew
#34 Posted by SilverZeo (2748 posts) - - Show Bio
@xhavoc86:  Those are spandex with helmets, not huge bulky pieces of metal with added spikes and thigh-belts!
#35 Posted by Malonius (894 posts) - - Show Bio
@inferiorego said:
" @zombietag said:
" mountain dew? what about SURGE?! "
Surge is a poor man's Mountain Dew "
Vault FTW!
#36 Posted by leokearon (1785 posts) - - Show Bio

Forget the heroes what about all the armoured villians that turned up in the 90's like FACADE and Armada?
#37 Posted by ltbrd (562 posts) - - Show Bio

I think this article is forgetting that there was actually a point to both Captain America and Spider-Man's armor periods. 
 
For Captain America, the armor came about during the time when his super-soldier serum was failing and he required the armor to continue being a hero because any stress on his body could incapacitate him. If memory serves he even needed to start wearing an exoskeleton 24/7 because of the adverse effects his body was suffering before his condition was corrected. 
 
Spider-Man, on the other hand, showcases his scientific abilities as the armors have always come in a response to a need against a villain such as Electro (first alternate costume made), the Enforcers (themselves armored), the recent bulletproof suit (to combat Massacre) to name a few. 
 
I think the real problem with the 90's armors was the same probably that people had with the Marvel character Cable during his introduction.....most of them just looked really bad. They were bulky and unnecessary detailed and that was simply a reflection of what people thought of future technology at the time. Now anytime we see an armor version of a costume its much sleeker and closer in concept and shape to the non-armored version of a heroes look.
#38 Posted by FireFlare153 (106 posts) - - Show Bio

I've always had a thing for armored heroes. The armor adds to the badass factor, they just look awsome!
#39 Posted by Bobby X (1132 posts) - - Show Bio

Damn...I still really like that armored Daredevil costume. There goes all my credibility on this issue.
#40 Posted by Veidt (24 posts) - - Show Bio

Okay, heroes don't need more armor anymore, but they need more cowbells for sure!

#41 Posted by karrob (4264 posts) - - Show Bio

Oh the 90's! 

#42 Posted by CrimsonAvenger (1162 posts) - - Show Bio

All I know is they made awesome action figures.

#43 Edited by digimod (234 posts) - - Show Bio

I always thought that Wetworks was (is) way cool...qualifies as armor in my book.
 

#44 Posted by Death Certificate (5408 posts) - - Show Bio

Is it wrong to still like the spider-armor?

#45 Posted by Bearded Justice (732 posts) - - Show Bio


Let's not forget EXTREME JUSTICE!



#46 Posted by Grim (2081 posts) - - Show Bio

I LOVED AVENGERS: UNITED WE STAND!
..that is all

#47 Posted by Mumbles (843 posts) - - Show Bio

90's armor is bestest

#48 Posted by Out_of_Space (712 posts) - - Show Bio
@NightFang said:
"The Jean Paul Valley Bat-armor  was the best!!! 
"


I agree.
#49 Edited by Kid_A (24 posts) - - Show Bio

i remember MOON KNIGHT got adamantium armour at one point 

#50 Posted by Mbecks14 (2029 posts) - - Show Bio
@NightFang said:
" The Jean Paul Valley Bat-armor  was the best!!! 
"
If by "best" you mean an atrocity then sure.