Typically, I try to keep the Costume Drama entries focused on the stories behind established characters’ weird and unexpected costume changes, rather than just creating a list of absurd superhero costumes. Beyond the fact that the internet isn’t exactly shy of “The Ten Worst Superhero Costume Redesigns in History” listicles from one end to the other, it’s not like most super-hero costumes aren’t ridiculous in the first place. One of the first occasions of disbelief comic book readers have to suspend in order to enjoy their books is that gods from space would wear bucket hats and the first thing a normal human being would do after gaining tremendous power in dress in head-to-toe lycra with the underwear on the outside.
This Halloween, however, I was presented with a straight-up oddity of the Nineties’ trading card craze and an array of alternate, seasonally-appropriate costume changes that came devoid of story: The 1996 Fleer Ultra X-Men Chrome Trading Card “Haunted Mansion” subset, featuring ten of the X-Men’s most prominent members in the cheapest Halloween costumes the local Party City could supply them at the last minute. To wit:
Professor X, for instance, appears to have either merely gotten his hands on the cheapest Hogwarts knock-off costume he could find (Hey, the X-Men travel through time, he could have easily jumped ahead a decade and gotten a $19.99 "Wizard Professor" outfit from the tentpole Halloween shop at the nearest failing mall) or he got some of the younger mutants to help him make a papier-mache wizard hat. Some kid with a beetle for a head pasting construction paper stars to a hat, another kid with wings made of fire drawing moons on a graduation robe with glitter pens. It's all very sweet until one of them gets abducted by Belasco and the other gets murdered by the Brood. Hey, how many graduation robes do you think Xavier's even has in stock? I bet it's one, because no one survives to graduation anyway.
Iceman makes Professor X's wizard robes look like that cardboard Optimus Prime cosplay outfit that actually transforms by comparison. Basically, he stole a few charcoal briquettes from Wolverine's barbecue - wait, I bet Havok barbecues more than Wolverine, I bet he considers himself a "grill master," somebody's scarf and a top hat made of cardboard. I bet he just stole that belt from one of the fat mutants. Also, some time next week someone's gonna be asking what happened to the broom and everyone else is gonna go "I think Bobby had it last" and Iceman's gonna be all "I 'unno, I put it back where I found it. Listen I gotta go, the Defenders need me for something" and the broom is actually under a pile of dirty clothes in his bedroom in the first place.
Meanwhile, Gambit's costume literally consists of an ugly hat and jacket which I can guarantee you he's owned for years already. He's even just wearing his regular costume underneath it. I bet it came down to the jacket with the fringe or a faux leather duster and fingerless gloves. And when someone teases him about it, he gets super sulky and goes "Oh cher dey don' even hav' 'Alloween in New Olrean', Idon' eve' 'no'wha'i's'" and whatever he's saying devolves into guttural sublimated consonants and no one can understand what he's saying, and then he just points at his ears and mouths the words "The music's too loud, can't hear, sorry!"
Leave it to Wolverine, the superhero whose power is that he always has six knives on him at all times and whenever there's a problem, he chooses to solve it with up to six knives. Yes, given an opportunity, he opts to get more knives. I'm not sure he even knows he's a pirate, I think he just picked the costume with the most knives associated with it. It was down to a pirate captain, a chef, a taxidermist or a knife salesman.
Actually, this about how good that costume would have been - Wolverine in a cheap business suit, holding a briefcase, and whenever someone asks "So what are you supposed to be" he opens the case, shoves his adamantium claws through the bottom of it and says "I'm a knife salesman."
The Beast can't let any holiday go by without the opportunity to lecture someone about history, he did this at Christmas when he dressed as Euripides and the Easter he insisted he was Tesla and electrocuted a bunny. But at least this is better than the year he blacked up to go as Frederick Douglass and when the other X-Men gave him shit about it he blamed it on Dark Beast. Except Kitty Pryde, she didn't give him shit, she just got in the face of the nearest black person and asked 'em if they'd be cooll if she used the N-Word at them. That's like Kitty's thing.
I can't tell if Cyclops is dressed as Elvis or if this is what mutants think humans dress like. For Mutant Halloween, maybe mutants dress as normal people and this is what Cyclops thinks accountants wear. The year before, he dressed as Prince and insisted he was a YMCA lifeguard.
The back of the card attests to his relative cluelessness. "Viva Professor! X-Land is rockin' tonight! Don't be a hound dog! Have a 'hunka hunka burning fun'!" That's just an approximation of human speech (Immediately after saying this, he murdered the professor, adding "Return to X-Sender! In the ghetto! Haha, okay!")
The fun fact I learned from Storm's costume is: The X-Men have at least TWO brooms!
Psylocke's French Maid costume - complete with the frilly little apron flying up in the front to give us a panty shot that she's uually giving twenty-four/seven anyway- is just flat-out insulting. First off, surely she could dust telekinetically. Secondly, even if she couldn't directly affect dust with her mind powers, surely she could just create Psychic Feather Dusters, couldn't she? Is this canon?
Actually, the weirdest part is that even with adding a low-cut front and a diaphanous, translucent apron to her costume, Psylocke's more thoroughly covered up than she generally is when going into battle. Apparently the mutant version of sexy Halloween costumes involves putting on more clothes.
Colossus probably went more all-out than any other X-Man, even though basically his costume makes him look like Mister Sinister. I wonder if he ever did that, just put a red jujube on his forehard, drew a goatee on with a Sharpie and walked around going "Scott, tovarisch, did I effer tell you, is much genetic potential has your blootline? Haha, okay, is I am kiddingk!"
Actually, that would require Colossus to have a bit of a wild side to him, and I'm not sure he's got any such thing, according to the quote on the back of the card:
"Okey, early bett-time for Piotr, goot night my party friends!"
Meanwhile, did Rogue and Colossus go to the party together? Because...
It's weird that Rogue opted to go as a vampire showgirl. Also that a vampire showgirl is basically just a Frederick's of Hollywood outfit with a cape and fangs, and also that she doesn't own a different colored headband. Did she not know you can buy them in red?
Actually, I'm not sure Rogue is going as a vampire showgirl here at all, according to the back of her card ...
I'm not sure, but I think this card is implying that she's dressed up as a vampire cocksucker.