Source: Deposit Photos
With the impending release of Action Comics #1000, it is a sobering thought that superheroes have been an aspect of popular culture and media for nearly eight decades. Since Superman made his debut in 1938’s Action Comics #1, countless heroes have been created, with some even being featured within the Marvel logo that precedes any of Marvel’s blockbuster films, and almost as many logos.
Inspired by this assessment and similar Top 10 lists, here is a list of the 10 best logos and emblems among superheroes. To clarify, this is a critique of logos, not necessarily one concerning who they signify.
#10 The Fantastic Four’s Four
While this team’s composition had changed over the years, with characters like She-Hulk and Wolverine filling in, and even undergone a re-branding as the Future Foundation, the Fantastic Four’s encircled blue and white “4” is the iconic logo of Marvel’s first family.
#9 The Punisher’s Skull
Frank Castle is hardly a traditional superhero. Depending on what point in his comic history a person looks, Frank was either a normal man with an arsenal of weapons, an angel of vengeance or even a stitched-together flesh golem, like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, given life by a magical stone. Regardless of the level of superpowers this vigilante possessed or lacked, one constant is the skull that is so synonymous with the war against crime that police co-opted the image for some of their squad cars.
#8 The Green Lantern of the Green Lantern Corps
Going back to logos synonymous with a group, the Green Lantern of the Green Lantern Corps comes to mind. Regardless of the physical nature of each of its members, every Green Lantern has a white, black and green costume that prominently features the green lantern of willpower.
#7 Spider-Man’s Spider
While Spider-Man has worn several different suits in his time as a superhero, sometimes wildly different in their design, one constant is the presence of a slender stylized design of a spider. This motif serves double duty as it is what gives the anti-heroic Venom and Anti-Venom their larger spider logos. The suit has also inspired other spider-theme heroes of the Marvel universe, including Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man 2099 and Spider-Woman.
#6 Iron Man’s Arc Reactor Window
While not a traditional logo due to its lack of lettering or a concrete object, Iron Man makes the list not only because his chest window makes him instantly recognizable but because it serves as the focal point for concentrated blasts of energy.
#5 Captain America
This hero is notable because while many think of his star-spangled shield, that particular item is not really considered to be a logo. While just about every version of Cap’s costume features a 5-pointed star like those found on the American flag, many versions of Cap’s costume, barring those found in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, feature a white letter “A” on the forehead of his cowl.
#4 The Flash’s Lightning Bolt
Carmine Infantino designed the original red-and-yellow costume of The Flash, cementing the image with a lightning bolt motif that culminated in a lightning bolt emblem on the torso. This is a symbol of lightning quickness that one would expect from The Flash.
#3 The X-Men’s X.
This entry brings the list back to teams. The X has had a huge role in Marvel’s mutant characters:
- The “X gene” is responsible for mutant powers.
- Charles Xavier is known as “Professor X” because of his humanitarian contributions to mutantkind and as a coincidental reference to his surname.
- Many mutant hero teams have incorporated this letter into their name, including Excalibur, X-Force, X-Factor, Generation X and the Exiles.
#2 Batman’s Bat
Despite the large number of changes over his storied career, Batman is the most well-known heroes in comics. While many heroes used costume logos for promotion and identification, Bruce Wayne incorporated strategy as he devised his. Many versions of the bat logo incorporate a large, brightly-colored circle or oval in the torso intended to draw fire toward his thickest armor, causing criminals to waste bullets until he can incapacitate them.
#1 Superman’s S
No list of superhero logos would be complete without discussing Superman. While the initial design for the S looks very different from how it now appears, it’s understandable that the S stood for “Superman” and the shield-like emblem reinforced the idea that this character was a heroic protector. This logo is so connected to Superman that reversing it serves as an instant giveaway that Bizarro is an “evil Superman,” even before he speaks or uses his powers.
Whether one looks over Marvel or DC comics, many of their characters have featured eye-catching iconography that helps readers instantly recognize who a character is or what their powers might be. This list just scratches the surface.
Samuel Caverly is the Senior Editor of Logo Realm, a site where you can find information about the most popular, elements and their history. He has an MS in Advertising from Boston University and after graduation he has worked for many projects and firms as a freelancing graphic designer.