Marvel 75: The 90's -- A Decade in Armor

From Marvel Comics

The 90’s came in hard and rough on the denizens of the Marvel Universe, and one need look no farther than the characters who turned in their spandex and unstable molecules for harder-edged armor for confirmation of it.

Over 10 years, heroes whose costumes had taken on a pleasing familiarity stared down the challenges facing them and decided when the going gets tough, the tough don shiny metal. Once the strict province of Iron Man and his ilk, the armored look became en vogue for even the most traditional of stalwarts in the 90’s.

The choice to armor up in the 90’s came with a price tag, of course. The armor rarely, if ever, simply supplemented the heroes’ abilities. Instead they came borne of tragedy or forced the characters to sacrifice something about them that made them unique. The acceptance of armor also marked a rejection of some aspect of themselves.


Despite the gear only being donned for a single issue, WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #100, Spider-Man’s first dalliance with an armored costume—a silver and black number that has echoes of Shocker’s “blanket” look—remains an object of fascination for fans.

Most recently seen on a slain other dimensional Spider-Man in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #33, the armor began as a reaction to the so-called “New” Enforcers, an overstuffed team of baddies that battled Spider-Man to a standstill during the four-part “Total War” storyline. Boasting the likes of Dragon Man, Thermite, Vanisher, and many more, the Enforcers took on and picked apart Spidey’s new armor until he had no choice but to burst forth from it and take down the final member with nothing but that well-known Spider-Moxie. Oh and probably super strength or whatever.

As with Hawkeye before him, this armor blunted nearly all of Spider-Man’s traditional advantages like speed and agility in the name of helping him take more damage. Although it did ultimately help the Wallcrawler triumph, it should come as no surprise that even when Peter Parker has returned to a more metal suit—as with the Iron Spider in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #529, the Big Time armor in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #656, or the Ends of the Earth costume in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #682—he has never chosen to revive this particular one.



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