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Batman turns 80: Our 27 favorite Batsuits through the years

By Dana Forsythe

What is it that terrorizes crooks? What do they dread most? Yes, it is the flashing figure of Batman, clad in the shadowy colors of blue and grey. And, on occasion, the famed fighter has donned other uniforms for specific jobs. – Edmond Hamilton (Detective Comics #165)

With more than a hundred versions of the Batsuit to pick from, how do you pick your favorite? Do you go with the classic Detective Comics version? Neal Adams' '70s Batman? What about the Bruce Timm animated series version? Rebirth Batman? Dick Grayson as Batman? Earth-1 Batman? Batman Beyond?

The ultimate tactician, Batman has created dozens of specialized suits over his 80-year history. In addition to recently taking a look at the evolution of Batman's classic cape and cowl, SYFY WIRE went back into the DC Comics archive to pick out some of our favorite Batsuits over the years. To keep the list focused, we kept it to comic book versions of the original Batman, Bruce Wayne.

If you don’t see your favorite on the list, please share it with us in the comments.

Detective Comics #241 (Writer: Edmond Hamilton, Artists: Sheldon Moldoff, Stan Kaye)241 rainbow 1957


Writer: Edmond Hamilton

Artists: Sheldon Moldoff, Stan Kaye

The Rainbow Batman issue has become a bit of cult classic because of its absurdity. In the story, Batman dons suits of different colors to distract a criminal from finding out Robin and Dick Grayson are the same person. It concludes with Batman rocking the fully rainbow outfit and finally explaining his motives to the cops and Robin.

Batman #113 “The Superman of Planet X” (Writer: Jack Schiff, Artists: Sheldon Moldoff, Charles Paris)


Writer: Jack Schiff

Artists: Sheldon Moldoff, Charles Paris

The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh was little more than a trivia answer before Grant Morrison began writing Batman R.I.P. in 2006. Used as an alternate persona, Bruce Wayne assumes the Zur-En-Arrh personality when his mind is destroyed by the Black Glove. In the original tale written by France Herron and drawn by Dick Sprang, Tlano, the Batman from Zur-En-Arrh, brings Earth's Batman to his planet to help him battle giant robots piloted by an unidentified alien race.

Detective Comics #165 (Writer: Edmond Hamilton, Artists: Dick Sprang, Charles Paris)


Writer: Edmond Hamilton

Artists: Dick Sprang, Charles Paris

This classic issue took a look back at the many costumes of Batman. In the first decade of his existence, Batman had been through hundreds of adventures already and in this issue, the pair took a look back at past costumes including the luminous bat-costume, the bat-space suit, the air-costume, and the sub-costume.

Detective Comics #275 (Writer: Bill Finger Artists: Sheldon Moldoff, Charles Paris)


Writer: Bill Finger

Artists: Sheldon Moldoff. Charles Paris

In an early example of how Batman’s ingenuity and imagination win the day, the Zebra Batman issue was a fun Bill Finger story. After tussling with the evil Zebra Man, Batman’s is turned into Zebra Batman, who repels all solid matter.

Dark Knight Returns #4 (Writer: Frank Miller, Artists: Frank Miller)


Writer/Artist: Frank Miller

One of the coolest parts of The Dark Knight Returns was Batman's exosuit, which he dons to beat down Superman in issue #4 of Frank Miller's 1986 series. Complete with spiked boots, mechanized arms and legs, and heavy metal armor, the exo-suit inspired a generation of creators.

Batman & Dracula: Red Rain (Writer: Doug Moench, Artists: Kelley Jones)


Writer: Doug Moench

Artist: Kelley Jones

In this story outside of Batman canon, Bruce Wayne is set on the case of murderous vampires before encountering and ultimately defeating Dracula. Batman’s look in this book, with a massive flowing cape, long horns, and a darker tone would become the normal look for the character in the following years and become the quintessential '90s look.

Missing media item.

RED SON (2003)

Writer: Mark Millar

Artists: Dave Johnson, Kilian Plunkett

What if the DC Comics superheroes were all Russian? This 2003 Mark Millar story, took the tale of Superman and flipped it so Kal-El landed in the U.S.S.R. instead of America. As such, Batman is also based in Russia, operating as a leader of the Worker party, highly skeptical of the overpowered Superman employed by the government.

Gotham by Gaslight (Writer: Brian Augustyn, Artists: Mike Mignola, P. Craig Russell)


Writer: Brian Augustyn

Artists: Mike Mignola, P. Craig Russell

Set in the 19th Century, Bruce Wayne becomes Batman as he investigates a murderer who turns out to be Jack the Ripper. Complete with a steampunk look, Mignola's art is central to creating a book that feels like an Edgar Allan Poe story.

Batman #612 (Writer: Jeph Loeb, Artists: Jim Lee, Scott Williams)

BATMAN #612 (2003)

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Artists: Jim Lee, Scott Williams

Arguably one of the best Batman stories ever, Hush featured the classic Jim Lee Batman with the grey suit, black emblem and blue cape. One of the best takes on the character, Lee’s Batman has served as a waypoint for artists for years.

Kingdom Come (Writer: Mark Waid, Artists: Alex Ross)


Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Alex Ross

In the future world of Kingdom Come, Batman has long since retired and now relies on a network of Bat-drones to clean up the streets of Gotham. With years of injuries relegating the hero to a wheelchair, Bruce Wayne finally joins the battle with a modified exo-suit in the final act.

Green Lantern #9 (Writer: Geoff Johns, Artists: Ethan Van Sciver, Prentis Rollins)


Writer: Geoff Johns

Artists: Ethan Van Sciver, Prentis Rollins

Batman has used several power rings through the years, but when he wore Green Lantern's ring in 2006 it was quite the sight. Upon returning to the DC Universe, Hal Jordan lends it to Bruce so he can use it to “overcome his fear and let go of his parents' murder.”

Batman: War on Crime (Writer: Paul Dini, Artists: Alex Ross)


Writer: Paul Dini

Artists: Alex Ross

Alex Ross and Paul Dini teamed up in 1999 to deliver a look back on Batman in War on Crime, which saw the Dark Knight return to a classic take on the Batsuit and Batman. According to Wikipedia, Ross based his take from the 1939 version and provided a look at what Batman might look like in real life.

Brightest Day #14 (Writer: Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, Artists: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado)

BRIGHTEST DAY #14 (2011)

Writer: Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi

Artists: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado

After Deadman was gifted with the White Lantern ring, he searches for a host to be the champion of Earth. When he chooses Batman, Bruce Wayne is able to wield its power for a short time before giving it up.

No Man’s Land (Writers: Jordan B. Gorfinkel, Greg Rucka, Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Paul Dini, Bob Gale, Devin K. Grayson, Kelley Puckett, Larry Hama Artists: Greg Land, Andy Kuhn, Yvel Guichet, Alex Maleev, Dale Eaglesham, Frank Teran, Phil Winslade, Dam

NO MAN'S LAND (1999)

Writers: Jordan B. Gorfinkel, Greg Rucka, Chuck Dixon

Scott Beatty, Paul Dini, Bob Gale, Devin K. Grayson, Kelley Puckett, Larry Hama

Artists: Greg Land, Andy Kuhn, Yvel Guichet, Alex Maleev, Dale Eaglesham, Frank Teran, Phil Winslade, Damion Scott, Dan Jurgens, Mike Deodato, Tom Morgan, Mat Broome

After an earthquake destroys most of Gotham City, it's up to Batman to restore order. This new look, which followed the Cataclysm story, features a Batman with a large brown utility belt, giving the outfit more of a rugged feel.

Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Batman and Robin #1 (Writer: Fabian Nicieza, Artists: Cliff Richards)


Writer: Fabian Nicieza

Artist: Cliff Richards

Created by Bruce Wayne in the aftermath of Final Crisis, the Insider Suit was created to secretly assess how Gotham had fared during his absence while simultaneously assessing the suit's capabilities. This high-powered suit, while it looked like something out of Rainbow Six, gave Batman night vision, camouflage, flight, teleportation and the ability to access the Speed Force in addition to having the strength to withstand an impact from a tank.

Batman Incorporated #12 (Writer: Grant Morrison, Artists: Chris Burnham)


Writer: Grant Morrison

Artists: Chris Burnham, Nathan Fairbairn

While fighting Talia al Ghul and her army of Mat-Bat soldiers, Batman dons the Man-Bat exoskeleton suit which he uses in conjunction with the Man-Bat serum. The suit has the ability to go invisible and produce electric shocks, which helps Bruce defeat the League of Shadows yet again.

All Star Batman #6 (Writer: Scott Snyder, Artists: Jock)


Writer: Scott Snyder

Artists: Jock

In the second run of All-Star Batman, Bruce shows off how he’s prepared for everything, especially when Mr. Freeze and his band of frozen zombies show up. Without hesitation, Batman fires up the anti-freeze Batsuit in Issue #6, and things get cooking.

Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne (Writer: Grant Morrison, Artists: Chris Sprouse)


Writer: Grant Morrison

Artists: Chris Sprouse

In the Return of Bruce Wayne series, we’re given a look at Batman through the timestream after the events of Final Crisis. Although this mini-series gave a look at a pirate version and pilgrim version of Batman, it was the caveman Batman who stole the show with his animal skins and oversized Bat head for a cowl.

Batman #37 (Writer: Scott Snyder, Artists: Greg Capullo)

BATMAN #37 (2011)

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artists: Greg Capullo

Created to withstand burning heat and freezing cold temperature, the Thrasher armor debuted in Batman #37 and might be one of the most intimidating-looking armors in Batman’s arsenal. The Thrasher suit can shoot electrical shocks, fire multiple cryogenic Batarangs at once and boasts an E.M.P. weapon.

Predator vs. Batman (Writer: Dave Gibbons, Artists: Andy Kubert, Adam Kubert)


Writer: Dave Gibbons

Artists: Andy Kubert, Adam Kubert

At the start of the 1990s, Batman’s predator suit made its debut in the fan-favorite Predator vs. Batman in 1991. Customized with kevlar reinforcement, Batman creates the suit after he falls to Predator, ending up badly hurt. This suit features a number of enhancements, including mirroring the Predator’s own helmet.

Batman: Year 100 (Writer: Paul Pope, Artists: Paul Pope)

BATMAN: YEAR 100 (2006)

Writer: Paul Pope

Artist: Paul Pope

Still working 100 years in the future, Batman: Year 100 features a Bruce Wayne who is on the run from Captain Gordon. Living in a police state, Batman relies on his wit and wherewithal to navigate the city, saving its residents from crime. Noted for the unique art of Paul Pope, Batman: Year 100 features a grizzled Batman whose suit seems almost slapped together.

Batman and Robin #33 (Writer: Peter Tomasi Artists: Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray)


Writer: Peter Tomasi

Artists: Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray

An extreme countermeasure to almost unstoppable odds, the Hellbat armor was created for battling large threats alongside Batman’s superpowered teammates, including Superman, Cyborg, and Aquaman. Working off Batman’s metabolism, the super suit can withstand an attack from Darkseid, but can only run for a small period of time.

Batman #35 (Writer: Scott Snyder, Artists: Greg Capullo)

BATMAN #35 (2013)

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Greg Capullo

Created with the express purpose of fighting his teammates on the Justice League, the Justice Buster armor comes with countermeasures for each of his friends. The exoskeleton can withstand incredible amounts of damage and has the ability to neutralize Cyborg, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Superman, and the Flash.

Superman Unchained #2 (Writer: Scott Snyder, Artists: Jim Lee, Scott Williams)


Writer: Scott Snyder

Artists: Jim Lee, Scott Williams

The stealth suit was made by Bruce Wayne to be the ultimate tool to sneak around. It comes equipped with technology that assesses the full electromagnetic spectrum and reacts accordingly to provide cover. Even Superman cannot detect it.

Speeding Bullets (Writer: J.M. DeMatteis, Artists: Eduardo Barreto)


Writer: J.M. DeMatteis

Artist: Eduardo Barreto

This Elseworlds story features a world in which Kal-El is found and adopted by Thomas and Martha Wayne, who name the child Bruce. When his parents are gunned down by a mugger, Bruce incinerated their attacker with his heat vision, discovering his powers. Batman's suit in this story is sleek, dark and mysterious, mirroring the strange tale J.M. DeMatteis unfolds.

Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth (Writer: Warren Ellis, Artists: John Cassaday)


Writer: Warren Ellis

Artist: John Cassaday

In this Planetary/Batman crossover, different versions of the Dark Knight appear from multiple timelines to bring the character John Black to justice. In this otherworldly tale by Ellis, we get a glimpse of all of the differing Batmen through the years.

Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman: Trinity (2003)


Writer: Matt Wagner

Artist: Matt Wagner

Created to enhance Batman’s battle skills alongside Wonder Woman and Superman, the Trinity Armor features electrically charged steel-mesh netting, mounted solar lasers, jetpack propulsion, spiked boot-heels and knuckle-dusters on gauntlets.