Comic books are known for characters who have powers and abilities that defy the laws of nature and physics. But it isn't just their powers that defy all known reason: sometimes it is their hairstyles that do as well. Good, bad and in-between, here are ten comic book characters whose hairdos would likely make you stop dead in your tracks and stare if you ever saw them on a real live person.
10. The Wolverine 'do
Wolverine is a comic book character that is so popular and iconic, he created a hairstyle trend all his own. Although he debuted in The Incredible Hulk #181 in 1974, Wolverine wouldn't take off his mask and reveal what he really looked like underneath it all until Uncanny X-Men #98 back in 1976. Artist Dave Cockrum decided that for some inexplicable reason, Wolverine's hair would actually be in the shape of his mask. (and that so had to be a bitch to cram under that tight little cowl.) Over the next several decades, depending on who was drawing him, Wolverine's hair would go from wild to mild, but always more or less in that distinctive, pointy shape with those massive sideburns.
As the eighties rolled around and Logan got his own mini-series, other comic book characters started to mimic "the Wolverine" hairstyle, kind of like how in the real world, every girl circa 1995 started to emulate Jennifer Aniston's "the Rachel" cut from Friends. At DC, Justice League member Vixen had a version of Wolverine's hairdo. As the nineties began, from Marvel Comics there were now characters like Deathcry and Feral who sported the Wolverine 'do, as well as variations of his hairdo on X-Force villain Wildside. (this being a Rob Liefeld creation, his hair was even more outrageous than what Logan had, but the basic idea was the same.)
While Wolverine still has a variation on his original, signature hairstyle to this day, his imitators have stopped trying to rip his look off for the most part. Only Wolverine himself wears "the Wolverine" these days, which is at is should be. Special mention must be made of Hugh Jackman, who not only wore the Wolverine hairdo with pride, but succeeded in making it not look ridiculous on a real life human being.
Others tried to work the Wolverine look, but it just wasn't the same.
The eighties was a decade that unleashed a lot of horrible, ghastly things upon an unsuspecting pop culture, but none quite as horrible as the hairstyle known as the mullet. Short on the top, long in the back, or as they used to say "business in the front, party in the back." Although technically around since the sixties, it was the mullet worn by Bono from U2, which he debuted to millions worldwide at the Live Aid concert in 1985, that popularized the look with guys everywhere. (And I don't care how much good music Bono has made, or how many starving kids he's helped, he'll never balance out making the mullet popular in the great cosmic scheme of things.)
As with all things pop culture, mainstream comics tried to appropriate it. Tony Stark/Iron Man was maybe one of the first super heroes to sport a mullet, and more of them quickly followed, like the X-Men's Longshot, a character who today is mostly just remembered for his over-the-top mullet, and really, not much else.
Then there were the female mullets, like the Invisible Woman's from the Fantastic Four (one of the most unattractive mullets ever drawn), and Rachel Summers, the daughter of Jean Grey and Cyclops from an alternate future. If mullets made men look ugly, then they made women look downright hideous, even on the comic book page, where everyone looks pretty. By the early nineties, mullets were kind of already a joke, reserved for cheesy country stars like Billy Ray Cyrus and clueless hicks. But the comic book industry, ever slow to realize when a fad is over, decided to give their #1 hero Superman a mullet in 1994, well past any point in history when people thought mullets still were a look that worked on anyone. Around that same time, Marvel introduced the mutant Bishop into the X-Men, who not only had a mullet...but he had a Jheri Curl mullet, Because two passé hairstyles are better than one, maybe? There really was no excuse for that one.
8. The Super Long Ponytail Look
I don't mean to sound like I'm picking on the guy all the time on these lists, but once again, something tacky in comics can all be seemingly traced back to artist Rob Liefeld. The first character with mass exposure that I remember from comics sporting that one super ridiculously long ponytail had to be X-Force's Shatterstar, introduced by Liefeld in the early nineties run of New Mutants as a refugee from the same dimension as Longshot called the Mojoverse, where warriors were bred for televised combat and the citizens were obsessed with Earth's popular culture and television. Although from the way Shatterstar and Longshot wore their hair, you'd think the only Earth program they watched was MTV's Headbanger's Ball.
For someone from a supposedly warrior culture, Shatterstar's ginormous ponytail had to just be a huge liability in battle, because whoever it is that you're fighting can just start yanking your hair like it's a catfight on the school yard. Okay, the same thing applies with capes, but at least capes aren't attached to your body like your hair is. It should be noted that when Shatterstar came out of the closet as gay, he lost the ponytail and got a far more respectable hairdo, because no self-respecting modern gay man would be caught dead with that crap on his head. Well, unless she were a drag queen.
After Shatterstar, all these other ponytailed guys started popping up, like Gideon (again, from X-Force) and Thunderstrike, Thor's temporary replacement. Superstar artist Jim Lee designed his own pony-tailed character in the form of Russian X-foe Omega Red, taking a cue from his buddy Liefeld with the one ridiculously long length of hair thing. Lee draws better than Liefeld, but it still looked dumb.
While the look was mostly a Marvel (and later Image Comics) thing, DC characters weren't immune to ponytail madness either; Nightwing continued his bad hair choices as he went from mullets to sporting a ponytail himself, before settling on the short hairstyle he still has today. I've often wondered if the stereotypical ponytailed comic book geek got the idea that these things were cool from this era of comics, because I still see that greasy ponytail look at comic book stores and conventions to this day. Newsflash, fellas...that look didn't work for anyone in the comics, and it works even less on you. Chop it off.
7. The Mohawk
The mohawk was the sign of punk rock rebelliousness in the late seventies and early eighties, and several comic book characters started to work that particular look at the time. Of course these days, something like a mohawk is a lot less scandalous, especially when you consider that nowadays you see little babies wearing them in strollers, not to mention characters on Glee. But back in the day, it symbolized one's bad-assness. On the DC Comics side of things, Infinity Inc member Nuklon had a short red mowhawk, similar to '80's TV star Mr.T, as did She-Hulk knock-off character Rampage. Short-lived Batman villainess Magpie sported a rather extreme mohawk herself. And over at Marvel, there was Gladiator, member of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, and frequent ally of the X-Men.
But no mainstream comics character has ever rocked a mohawk quite like the X-Men's Storm. Once known for her flowing white hair, in 1984, after losing her powers, Storm had a mini mutant identity crisis, decided to dress like a leather biker babe, possibly hooked up with an Asian chick, and chopped off most of her hair and started wearing a fierce mohawk. This was a drastic change from her African Goddess of the Serengeti look, but it quickly became one of her most iconic hairstyles. So iconic, in fact, that she recently started working a new version of it in the new all female X-Men title, as well as in Uncanny X-Force.
6. No Hair At All
Of course, no hair at all is also a hairstyle of a sort. And just like the color black goes with everything and is never out of style, shaving your head on a regular basis means you'll never have humiliating photos of bad hairdo choices to haunt you in later years. Sporting the classic bald headed look are of course two of the comic book medium's biggest icons, Superman's arch nemesis Lex Luthor, and Professor Charles Xavier of the X-Men. While Xavier was always bald (in the comics, even as a young man) Luthor was originally portrayed as a red head. A few appearances later, he showed up with no hair, which suggests to me the baldness was a personal choice and he shaved his head just to look more bad ass. If that was the case, it was retconned several years later as we find out that Superboy caused Luthor's hair to fall out accidentally when blowing out a fire in his lab. This caused Lex to hate Superman forever and vow eternal vengeance (bitch, you're rich...just buy a damn hair transplant and get over it.) Luthor seemed to start a fad of evil guys being bald; he was followed by 007's Blofeld, Spidey villain the Vulture and Voldemort from the Harry Potter books.
Other characters to successfully showcase their chrome domes in comics are the Silver Surfer (quite literally a chrome dome in his case); Moondragon, the rare bald female hero who was once an Avenger; and Drax the Destroyer. Even Luke Cage has in recent years been taking to the shaved head look over the classic afro. Still, it would be nice if comics had one or two more follically challenged high profile heroes; even Star Trek has Captains Picard and Sisko representing the bald men of the world. Well, William Shatner too, but those two were the ones who actually admitted to it.