Poll Position: Leggo’a My Logo!

Most great super-hero costumes (our stock and trade here at HeroMachine.com) rely on a distinctive chest insignia or logo. Which brings us to this week’s question:

{democracy:176}

For me, a great logo must do three things:

  1. It must be instantly recognizable.
  2. It must instantly and clearly identify the character who wears it.
  3. It must look awesome.

I’ve put together a list of logos that I think accomplish all three of these criteria, along with a brief discussion of each.

  1. The Avengers: Team logos are tough, because they have to work on a number of disparate characters. And when it comes to a large group of heroes with a pre-existing, strong identities, the challenge is even harder. I always thought the Avengers logo did a good job of reflecting the essentially corporate nature of the team (corporate in terms of “This is how we do things”). However, since it was only rarely used on anything but a Quinjet, I’d have to give this one a pass, even though it’s a nice design.

  2. Batman: You know you’ve got a great logo when the character it adorns swings wildly between the campy Adam West version and the gritty Frank Miller “Dark Knight”, while the logo basically stays the same. You know you’ve got a great logo when it changes less often than the one for Coke. You know you’ve got a great logo when it’s instantly recognizable with no other adornment to people all over the world in numbers even Santa Claus would envy. And finally, you know you’ve got a great logo when it must be described as “The Goddam Bat Logo”.

    The stylized lines, the crisp symmetrical curves, the exceptional melding of both bat and man-with-cape, and its ability to be easily drawn even by young children while still looking distinctive and menacing, all make this one of the all-time greats in any genre.

  3. Captain America: While I like this symbol for Cap, and it’s certainly a logo, it’s not really his insignia. I have to take points off for not wearing it on his chest, even though it looks cool and definitely is identified with the character.

  4. Fantastic Four: I look forward to hearing from DOOM on why this would be a bad choice. Unlike the Avengers, however, the FF were designed from the ground-up as a team from the beginning. And it shows in both the design and usage of this logo. You’d think a four in a circle would be the equivalent level of challenge as composing the “Hot Pocket” jingle (“Hooooooot Pocket!” — apologies to Jim Gaffigan), but it really works. Plus it’s a bonus if one of your teammates can easily write it in the sky in flames. Well, until he died.

  5. The Flash: I love this logo. The simple white circle sets off the bold diagonal lightning bolt very well, suggesting speed and power. It works great on its own, but it stands out even more against the striking red costume. The lightning is echoed in other costume elements, which also ties the whole costume together. Really, the Flash’s logo serves as the organizing principle behind the entire costume, and that’s darned impressive.

  6. Green Lantern: The essence of a great logo is to strip away everything non-essential, until finally you are left with only the essence of what it signifies. The GL logo exemplifies that approach. Nothing is extra, nothing detracts from the hammer-like simplicity, nothing gets in the way of the core message. It looks great, it’s easily recognizable, and it says everything you need to know about the being behind it.

  7. The Incredibles: Like the Fantastic Four (whom they closely resemble, let’s be honest), The Incredibles have the advantage of being designed as a team from the get-go. And like the FF, each of the team members has the logo emblazoned right in the middle of the chest where you typically find a solo character’s. That speaks of a certain kind of unity only a family can have, a commonality of purpose (and good fashion sense!). Of course, these guys also had Edna on their side doing the design work, so that’s a bonus. And the logo definitely looks great.

  8. The Punisher: Love him or hate him, you have to admit the Punisher has a kick-ass logo. Oh sure, it sort of reminds you of a buck-toothed pirate flag, but would you dare say that to Frank Castle’s face? I thought not. The black and white colors reflect the character’s essential world view, and the skull leaves no doubt as to what business he’s in. It all manages to look distinctive, even though it’s just a skull on black.

  9. Captain Marvel (SHAZAM): Like the Flash logo that followed it, Captain Marvel’s bold diagonal lightning bolt both inspires and defines a core aspect of the character. The simple gold and red are even more appropriate here, as it suggests a bit of the classical influence behind his powers. Like the man-child himself, this logo bespeaks simplicity, strength, and hard-striking directness.

  10. Spider-Man: For me, Spidey’s logo hit its best stride with the introduction of the Black costume, when it was the only real design element to be had (besides the eyes). But no matter which version, I’ve always liked how it gave off just the right mix of creepy and cool.

  11. Superman: Like Batman, Superman’s logo has remained pretty much the same since the relatively early days and endures as one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. Unlike Batman’s, though, this one is hard to draw and a little unimaginative. I mean, it’s his initial in a diamond. I can get that at the rodeo. I realize this is blasphemy, but there you have it, folks, I’m a blasphemer.

  12. Transformers Autobots: Admit it, that steely robot face unnerves you. Go ahead, admit it. I’ll hold you.

  13. Wonder Woman: Like Superman’s, Wonder Woman’s logo has always struck me as a bit unimaginative. I mean, it’s just her initials. On the plus side, and also like Superman’s, this would make an excellent tramp stamp tattoo.

  14. X-Men: I include it here because this logo worked so incredibly well for the movies as a way of branding and marketing the team. However, it never really worked all that great in the comics as far as the costumes go. They didn’t even put it on the Blackbird plane!

This is a tough choice; all of these are classic, beloved, and awesome logos. It’s tough to get past the Big Two, Superman and Batman, because they’ve been around so long and their characters have been so incredibly successful. But for the reasons I gave, I’m going to pass on Superman. Your first initial in a diamond ain’t gonna cut it no matter how many billions of dollars you’ve made, folks. Not in MY town!

So the standard has to become Batman’s extraordinarily distinctive bat-logo, which is so cool it’s used to summon him. Comparing it side-by-side with the others on the list, I have to eliminate all of them except for Green Lantern and the Flash. And not just because they were two of my favorite childhood comics!

Out of those two, I have to drop the Flash’s, as I think it’s a bit derivative of the Shazam logo that preceded it. Not as bad as the Golden Age Flash’s, of course, but still, it’s darn close.

Green Lantern, like Batman, has a logo that easily stands out and can be reproduced by almost anyone. Both incorporate the concept name of the character into the design (big bat for Batman, big green lantern for GL). I honestly think they’re very close, although certainly Batman’s had a much wider and longer exposure.

However, I’m going to shock the world by going with GL! Why? Ultimately they’re very, very close, but the white circle tips the scale for me over the oval yellow. I like that GL’s logo is symmetrical both horizontally and vertically.

But by all means, please chime in below with people I left out and shouldn’t have, or people I included and shouldn’t have, or why one of the other nominees would be a clearly better choice. I look forward to hearing from you!

About Jeff Hebert

Jeff is a 44 year old city boy who has somehow found himself located in Colorado, fulfilling his lifetime dream of making a living drawing super-heroes all day.

31 Responses to Poll Position: Leggo’a My Logo!

  1. hey Jeff, Old poll :)

  2. Man, it looks like bats is gonna take another one of these polls. I’m going with The Flash, just because I’m tired of the God Damn Batman winning. Rich jerk probably bought his votes anyway. ;)

  3. Hey Gero, I know I did a very similar one in the past, but it was more just “which one do you like best” rather than “The greatest ever”, so I thought there was enough difference to justify it.

    Also, I’m lazy.

  4. Oh, wait! I see what you mean, sorry — ok, proper poll now showing at the top. Thanks Gero!

  5. Not Gero, GENE. No coffee yet today Jeff?

    I went with the X-men. *shrug* Dunno why, maybe just becuase I’ve always been a fan. Avengers and Spiderman are both very cool though so they’d be a close second/third.

  6. Batman’s is good, but in the end – HE is the logo more than the symbol on his chest is. You could take the bat logo off and still totally tell who Batman is.

    Superman’s is the real classic. The original, unbeatable super hero logo that instantly inspires hope (or nerd giggles) when Clark’s shirt opens and reveals superman underneath.

    I’m a fan of the old school Black and Red Superman logo a lot, but this one is good too. I voted for it. It’s the best design.

  7. The big difficulty here for me is separating how much I like the character from how good the logo is. I’m tempted to go with the Incredibles or Spider-Man as my favorite characters on the list.

    However, ignoring the character and just looking at the logos, I think I agree with Jeff’s top three: Batman, Green Lantern, and the Flash. Now, one thing I don’t like about Green Lantern’s logo is that I think it’s a little too abstract for me. Yes, it’s a great icon and I can see what it’s supposed to be, but I already knew it was a lantern. If I didn’t know that, it might as well be an arbitrary letter or anything. I think it’s good for a superhero’s logo to be recognizable as something even if you don’t know anything about the hero.

    So between The Flash and Batman—well, Batman’s is nothing if not recognizable, original, and unique to the character. But while the Flash’s logo did come after Captain Marvel’s, there are significant differences that make the Flash’s really stand out to me: namely the surrounding white circle and the tapering on both ends of the bolt to give the logo a rotational symmetry. This, paired with the fact that Batman’s going to win this poll anyway and I’m a contrary person, means my vote goes to Flash.

    I will also say that my least favorite logo on here is the X-Men logo. It never gets used, it’s not very recognizable, and to me that’s the one that really looks like it belongs at the rodeo: “Yeah, that guy with the weird claws is from the Circle-X ranch.” Either that, or something you put on a barrel of chemicals to make sure people know they’re toxic.

  8. Rodimus Mike

    Transformers hands down. That’s why you see autobot and decepticon symbols on everybody’s car when you drive down the road.

  9. Actually, I was at the comic book store yesterday looking through merch after I got my books, when I came across this emblem emblazoned on a t-shirt:
    http://www.jinx.com/Content/Product/1298p_0c_ZoomB.jpg
    If anyone’s seen Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, you should recognize this as Captain Hammer’s logo. Needless to say, when I saw it, I started laughing, and had to show my friend. Now I’m not saying that I’m saying Captain Hammer’s emblem should be included; it is a little obscure. This is more of a related anecdote.
    I think I’m going to have to agree on the Green Lantern logo. Actually pretty easy to replicate by hand, fairly recognizable and identifiable, symmetrical, etc. Besides the only thing I picked up from my merch search was a Sinestro pin, which is at least related.

  10. Gene, Gero, is there really a difference? I mean, we’re all “G”s here, right?!

    Sorry about that, Gene ::blush::

  11. I would say Invincible. I mean his symbol is most of the costume, it also happens to be the symbol for the entire company responsible for the character’s existence.

  12. Being a Batman fan from way before it was cool to like batman (the first comic I remember reading was batman, and that was in the mid-seventies) I have to give my vote to him. Also, besides Superman, it’s the only other worldwide recognizable symbol, even by people that have never read a comic book.

  13. I’d just like to ask Jeff why he’s partially mislabeling one of the group logos.

    Technically, Jeff, that’s not the Transformer logo, it’s the Autobot logo. The other major group (the Decepticons) have a separate logo of their own which has been around just as long, and is just as distinctive. And if you’re going to insist on a ‘heroes only’ requirement, I point you back to the beginning of this paragraph and the italicized words.

  14. EnderX: Thanks for the info. I’ve now updated the entries to say “Autobots” instead of “Transformers” so hopefully the youth of America can stop being corrupted by my malevolent ignorance.

  15. I would have given the Incredibles logo a shot, but it hasn’t had the chance to be tested by time, nor does it look like it will get to with only the one-off movie, even if it is one of my all-time faves. So my choice next to that was Batman. Your description summed up my opinion on it.

  16. It seems Im out gunned on this battle field. Most people here seem to like Batman. Nothing against the Bats…I love him to death. But my favorite character is and forever will be Spider-man. But Spidey’s logo is not AS recognizable as Batmans or Supes’. Spider-mans logo is good because it identifies not only the character but also what is powers are. Batman’s logo Identifies his purpose as a creature of the night. So both are my choices. Alas I can choose only one so Im going with the Webhead!

  17. William A. Peterson

    Superman, hands down…
    First, best, most recognizable, and if it weren’t for him, Superheroes wouldn’t have logos!

  18. Well, if you’re going to correct “Transformers” to “Autobots”, where is the Decepticon logo? ;9

    @B. Clouser: Actually, wasn’t there a run of Batman comics in the 1940s and 1950s in which he didn’t have the logo? Just the cowl? Which is enough to say “I’m Batman.”

    Hands down, Green Lantern. Step into the light. The inviting soft yet warm green glow… bam! Sucker.

  19. It was tough for me to choose between Green Lantern and the Punisher. They’re both stark, simple, and awesome, but I think the Punisher’s sums up more what he’s about, in the most brutal imagery imaginable.

  20. MScat (17): I may not have voted for Spidey, but I think I know what’s happening here. Jeff clearly has arachnophobia, and the anti-spider bias in his reviews. are hurting Peter Parker in the polls. Also, I suspect some affiliation with one J. Jonah Jameson. I’m onto you, Jeff.

  21. Me Myself & I

    I will be the first to admit that I haven’t read nearly as many comics as I would have liked as a kid. If I had, I may have had a little more exposure to more of these logo’s. The sad reality is that before this post, I’ve never even seen The Avengers logo so I had to exclude it. After all, one of the main purposes of a logo is to solicit recognition with a product, concept or idea. Not recognizing the logo kind of undermines its impact.

    I’ve never really cared for the Fantastic 4 logo because it really gives no idea what they are about. Not even a hint. All it says to me is that there, “are 4 of them”.

    I actually liked the early X Factor logo better than X Men, especially in the earlier comics where it was prominant on all of the teams uniforms.
    http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/0/462/80322-99000-x-factor_super.jpg
    In fact, no matter where the character was standing, you could always seee the logo because it was big and bold across their uniforms and even wrapped around to the back.

    For me I had to choose between Batman, Green Lantern and Spiderman. I eventually chose Batman because, as I stated earlier, recognition is a big part of a logo and You would be hard pressed to find one that is recognized more in the group.

  22. I started by automatically knocking off the list any logo I ever saw on a character’s leather jacket in the nineties: Superman, X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Wonder Woman (just in case). Then I ditched Spider-Man, because his logo isn’t all that unique to him; many business (like Poison Spider in Moab) have very similar logos that nonetheless never make you think Spider-Man might own the joint. I eliminated the Punisher because while I like the skull, I don’t like the buck teeth–and, as with Spider-Man, a lot of pretty mundane things have similar logos. I got rid of the Autobots because Decepticons all the way baby! And Batman, because I’m starting to get a little bored with Batman, and that’s terrible. Green Lantern had to go, because if you didn’t already know it was a lantern, I’m not sure you’d know what it was. And although I love Flash’s lightning bolt, I’m not really sure it’s all that iconic outside the comics community–and Captain Marvel’s definitely isn’t. But I’m not all that wild about Captain America’s shield as a logo, even though I like it fine as a shield.

    So after all that…I went back to Superman. Thousands of t-shirts and tattoo flash can’t be wrong, right?

  23. I’m a fan of a lot of those up there, however, Autobot wins for me. I’ve always loved the G1 series, and the logos for both the Autobots and Deceptions are just awesome anyways.

  24. DOOM: You’ve invoked Doom’s name, Hebert– many have done so under penalty of death. And yet, while Doom is among you, the inferior masses, an opportunity has arise for you to bask in Doom’s beneficence which presents itself through revelation.

    While Doom is not surprised that the reality of Richard’s subpar intellect has eluded you, it’s rather pitiful that you’ve never noticed it was right under your noses this entire time. The best insignia this so-called genius could devise consists of a paltry “4″ enclosed in a circle; it doesn’t speak of simplicity or elegance, rather it denotes the shoddy work of an amateur.

    You must understand that it’s Doom that suffers. Ruminate on this: It’s been said that a hero is best defined by their enemies. Doom’s enemies? Four morons who might as well be lost in a blank stare whilst strands of spittle slowly seep down their chins. Are you pleased with yourself, Hebert? Doom’s depressed now.

    :)

  25. That’s the best Doom yet. I tremble in fear!

  26. I wonder how many keyboards Doom goes through. Metal Gauntlets + Angry typing = broken keys.

  27. Dan, I assumed that was why he dictates to his loyal serf Joshua instead of making his own account.

  28. Seeing as I have only had one poll where I DIDN’T argue that Batman was superior, you guys can probably guess who I am going to choose.

    Drumroll, please… THE BAT-SYMBOL!!!!!!!!

    :)

  29. I thought about this quite a bit. While I love Batman’s logo, it is still subject to change quite a bit.

    I went with Superman’s logo because it is so very iconic. If you look at just the shape of the logo (not including the “S”), people would still associate that with Superman. It has stayed consistent for such a long time because it works.

    While I think the GL logo is cool, it’s only recently been getting recognized. Also as someone else stated, it’s too abstract to immediately tell it is a lantern unless you already knew what it was.

    I’d make Flash’s logo number two. It’s iconic, it has changed very little if at all. It says a lot about the character. It’s not nearly as recognized as Superman’s, but still awesome.

  30. Batman because, he’s watching…ALWAYS! Also, he might destroy my rock’n’roll.