Someone who is not me because I don't have the attention span should do a Top 10 Men's Ponytails in '90s Comics infographic/listicle.
— Jess Plummer (@Jess_Plummer) August 8, 2014
Challenge accepted! Many male comic book characters grew their hair long in the 1990s. Plenty of them let it flow wild and free, others wore ridiculous headsocks that let all their hair pop out the top (Gambit is an enduring example of this), and others put some or all of it in a ponytail. Let’s stroll down memory lane for a look at the goofiest and most egregious.
Confession time: I kind of liked it when Superman had longer hair. What can I say? I have a thing for dark, wavy hair, even if Superman’s ‘do was kind of a mullet. I’d like to put my hands in it either way. Anyway, he grew it out while he was dead, because: the Nineties. But when he was in Clark Kent mode, he had to pull it back. It actually worked well to conceal his identity because it made him look like a total goofball. He finally cut it off while getting ready for his wedding. Giving himself haircuts by bouncing his heat vision off a mirror is one of Superman’s many powers, since not many barbers keep kryptonite scissors around. If you ever smell burning hair, that may mean Superman is nearby!
None more Nineties, with the requisite tiny pouches and anatomically impossible muscle definition. In case you’re not impressed enough by his ponytail, he also has an extra sword on his sword.
You know who’s always been really concerned with keeping up with the latest fashions? Former Marine Frank Castle, whose single-minded pursuit and slaughter of bad guys still leaves him enough time to carry out his haircare regimen. I always pictured something different when I thought about “The Punisher” and “hot oil.”
Here we see this X-Force villain locked in combat with more-Nineties-than-Nineties character Night Thrasher, who isn’t shown with his skateboard for some reason. (Have you ever heard about the late, great Dwayne McDuffie’s satirical pitch for “Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers”? You must read it. It’s amazing, hilarious, and sad. It’s even sadder now because it was written 25 years ago and we’re not totally past those issues.)
Before becoming the third Captain Marvel, Genis-Vell was known as Legacy, and had THIS. He cut it off when he took on the mantle of Captain Marvel. Carol Danvers rocks a headsock now and then as the current Captain Marvel, but I doubt we’ll ever have to worry about her looking this terrible.
Dick Grayson grew his hair out because it was the Nineties and he was striking out on his own as Nightwing (a decade-long process because everything takes forever in comics). He had a mullet for a while, which gradually got long enough to tie back in a ponytail. And it kept growing until he could have tucked it into his back pocket, if he’d been wise enough to build pockets into his costume. Eventually, Dick got his own solo series, and kicked it off by getting his ponytail cut off in a fight with sword-wielding henchman during his first adventure in Blüdhaven in Nightwing Vol. 2 #1. And they say nothing good ever happens in Blüdhaven!
The Magneto of Earth 295, the Age of Apocalypse timeline, had a ponytail. And sometimes, one ponytail simply wasn’t enough for him. Magneto is one of those people who’s never satisfied. He needs a hug.
Created by Jim Lee right before he went off to co-found Image Comics, Omega Red was a Russian-born serial killer who was experimented on by the Soviets. They gave him a kind of super soldier serum like Captain America and also embedded pseudo-adamantium tentacles in his arms so he could also be a knockoff of Wolverine and Doctor Octopus. He is the avatar of everything that was horrible about comics in the Nineties.
When Image Comics launched in the early Nineties, a large percentage of its characters were Wolverine knockoffs, and many of them had ponytails. Most of the worst ponytails at DC and Marvel happened after Image started the trend (although Omega Red served as a harbinger of things to come), so if you want to lay blame for it, the evidence trail leads here. Ripclaw was a cybernetically enhanced Native American metahuman, and obviously, he was able to communicate with the spirit world because as we’ve learned from every form of media, all Native Americans have magic powers.
1. Adam-X the X-Treme
He only made about a dozen appearances, but his very name is shorthand for the most ludicrous aspects of Nineties comics. A mutant human-Shi’ar hybrid, Adam Neramani had the power to ignite the electrolytes in a person’s blood, burning them from the inside out. To do this, he first had to oxygenate the person’s blood, which he would do by slashing them with the many blades all over his costume. This was during a grim-and-gritty, “everything is shades of grey” time when the X-Men accepted any mutant onto the team, no matter how murdery, so he was presented as somewhat of an anti-hero. He originally was intended to be a lost Summers brother, but those plans were abandoned and the character soon followed. Let us never speak of this again.
The Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons hasn’t let male pattern baldness stop him from having a ponytail, even though it also qualifies as a skullet. And unlike many of the other characters on this list, he still has it!