Most Gratuitous Superheroine Costumes

Respecting comics as legit literature is a relatively new thing, and it's been a battle made especially difficult by the distractions caused by ladies in skin-tight costumes, designed specifically to titillate. Absurd outfits have often overshadowed some pretty great stories being told between comics' illustrated pages, but it's hard to blame publishers for using the tools at their disposal to appeal to their most profitable audience. Still, there are certain superheroine costumes that undeniably go over the top, so here are a few ladies who would have just as many powers even if they covered up a bit.

Power Girl

DC Comics' superheroine is probably the most notable example of a costume that seems unnecessarily revealing, with a huge panel cut out right in the ol' decolletage region, exactly where most male heroes wear their icons of power. DC tried to explain away the gaping costume hole by saying that the outfit is intentionally designed to distract male villains, but Power Girl already has all of the powers of Supergirl, so "distraction" seems like overkill. DC's recent New 52 redesign covers her up a bit more, but also managed to ruin the DC Universe, so no ground really gained there.

Phantom Lady

Gratuitous costumes aren't really just a modern issue, since they date back all the way to the 1940s, with the introduction of Phantom Lady, who uses the power of "black light" to make herself invisible. Phantom Lady is a pretty solid expression of '40s pin-up art, which is revealing without being exposing. Her design is undoubtedly part of a cultural movement that includes great artists like Vargas, but her publishers also attracted the attention of Fredric Wertham, an anti-comics crusader who cited Phantom Lady specifically as dangerous to the soft and squishy minds of children because of her weird, handkerchief-like costume.

White Rabbit

Despite DC Comics making inconsistent efforts at making comics slightly less ridiculous, they also regularly make some pretty unfortunate missteps. One of those stumbles is White Rabbit, who isn't even important enough to have her own Wikipedia page, and who is not to be confused with Marvel Comics' character of the same name. White Rabbit appears out of nowhere to antagonize Batman, can somehow split into two people at once, and looks like she's working at a strip club. There's no reason for any of it, and even Batman doesn't seem all that interested in seeing how it plays out.

White Queen

Speaking of villainesses in underpants, Marvel's White Queen always seems like her real costume is in the laundry, and all she's left with is a corset and a cape. Depending on which version of the X-Men you're reading, Emma Frost is always experimenting with ridiculous costumes, but the most ridiculous is probably her New X-Men duds, which are literally made of the negative space surrounding the letter X. It sounds clever until you realize how terribly impractical the whole thing is. When you can read minds, why would you wear something that would generate horrible thoughts?

Shanna the She-Devil

Logic dictates that any exploration of the jungle should normally be undertaken with the maximum amount of coverage possible, but that's rarely the case with jungle heroines, who are apparently only capable of skinning only one tiger ever and making a bikini out of it. In a world devoid of infectious bug bites, thorny plants, and the general unseen, bitey perils of nature, Shanna the She-Devil somehow evades every danger with flawless, overly-exposed skin, instead of being a mass of gnarled scar tissue like any other human who spends every day outside being eaten alive by murder-flies and fang-leeches.

Lady Death

If you want to get into some really insane territory, you have to wander into smaller publishers that were operating in the '90s. They were often remorseless when trying to lure in well-paying young men. Chaos Comics' Lady Death is some kind of goddess who is bone white from hair to toe, with thigh-high leather boots that latch onto her underwear, which somehow serves a function not known to mere mortals. Lady Death was passed around through several failed publishers and given new origins at least once, but she's not much more than a less-successful Spawn, and even her well-proportioned appearance can't seem to keep a publisher afloat.


Vampirella hails from an era where black and white comics were beautifully drawn by virtuoso artists and written by master storytellers, so it's hard to hold these origins against her. The fact that Vampirella's tiny costume was designed by a woman, Trina Robbins, is also a point in her favor, and somehow, being from the planet Drakulon feels like enough of an explanation for the absurd costume. Maybe it's also the association with vampirism that makes this costume strangely appropriate, since post-18th century vampire lore can get kinda sensual.


"Bony carapace" isn't really a sexy phrase, unless you're into some pretty weird stuff, but pointy shards of bone and tendon are all that make up Witchblade's costume, which emerges from a razor-fingered gauntlet on the wearer's hand. There's literally no reason that this deadly weapon also requires all of the user's clothes to fly off in a cloud of shredded fabric, but woe befall any change you had in your pocket, because it belongs to the devil now. Sorry. Again, it was the '90s, so the more revealing the costume, the better.


Dawn's appearance is a little tricky because, according to canon, she would appear differently depending on the viewer, and creator Joseph Linsner always maintained that this was because all women are beautiful. Despite this positive message, every Dawn cover depicted the red-headed witch as a buxom babe in translucent clothing rather than one of these "other" Dawns. Because she was created during the '90s by a small publisher, Dawn is also the goddess of something, and her boyfriend is Death, and we stopped paying attention right about there.