Cool Women of the DCU Poster

Adam Hughes drew the new DC promotional poster, which features, from left to right, Catwoman, Oracle, Zatanna, Black Canary, Power Girl, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batwoman, Vixen, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn. Here’s the raw image from his site:

Women of the DCU Poster - Raw

What KC first noticed: There are no girl Legionnaires included.

What I noticed: He put the lesbian in pants. I guess she’s lucky to be included at all, given the history of her promised title.

I thought it was amazing when I saw it, illustrating the power and beauty of these characters, and very cool that DC was using this as their major giveaway.

Here’s a picture of the poster unfolded, showing the caption “The Real Power of the DC Universe”:

Women of the DCU Poster

That image is via Occasional Superheroine (link no longer available), where the commenters are debating whether it’s sexist. Some want the women in their costumes (don’t we see that often enough?) or call it “eye candy” (it’s a poster! how much depth of character and storyline can you put in one image?). “Augie” said “DC hired Annie Liebowitz to do a photoshoot!” which is closer than s/he thinks — a staffer told me that they were inspired by Vogue-like layouts.

As for guessing who’s who, the poster has a small tagline that lists the characters as I have them above, by their codenames.

56 Responses to “Cool Women of the DCU Poster”

  1. david brothers Says:

    The lady in pants is Batomwan? I hadn’t even noticed, because my eyes immediately went straight to Harley Quinn. She remains my favorite “new” Bat-character.

    This is a really classy picture, though. There’s tons of character in those poses, and I liked that I could differentiate the blondes just by sight and posture cues.

    My only complaint is that I feel like Zatanna is always always always being caught in the middle of taking her top hat off :)

  2. chris w. Says:

    This is not sexist at all. It’s surprisingly tasteful if you ask me.

    Several of the costumes these women wear are far more sexist and cheesecake than this poster.

  3. Chris Griswold Says:

    I think the woman sitting is Lois Lane. I can’t see what’s on her fingers too clearly, but I think she has a Superman ring and a wedding ring on.

  4. Ed Sizemore Says:

    I like the poster a lot and thinks it’s very classly. Hughes did a great job picking clothes that fitted the personality of the women. I wish women in comics were always treated with this much regard and respect.

  5. Johanna Says:

    No, it’s definitely Batwoman – she’s id’ed as such on the poster. But it would have been nice for Lois to have been included. And yeah, respectful is a good word.

  6. Craig Says:

    Batwoman = Renee Montoya, right? I dunno, i get confused. Anyway, if it is Montoya i think the pants are a nice touch, fitting for the character regardless of sexual preference. Or including it but not solely based off that (since, yknow, that’s PART of the characterization).

    Overall, well done. Particularly like Oracle in the thinker-like pose.

  7. Dave Says:

    No, Renee Montoya is the new Question, although she was outed as a Lesbian in Gotham Central a few years ago (that being a retcon that completely ignored established continuity for the character. Then again, since that continuity was primarily established by Chuck Dixon, perhaps that was the whole point.).

    The new Batwoman is a new version of -not completely sure, here… – a golden or silver age Batwoman named Kathy Kane. Now known as Kate Kane. Seemingly introduced for the sole purpose of creating a lesbian superhero and garnering publicity for such.

  8. Dwight Williams Says:

    Kate’s been referred to as “Katherine the Younger” in 52, which leaves me suspecting that her namesake’s still part of the Standing Continuity(and possibly a part of Kate’s personal history in some unrevealed way)…at least for now.

  9. Blog@Newsarama » Desperate Superheroes Says:

    […] of the women of the DC universe, which can also be found on Adam Hughes’ website. Johanna has commentary.   Posted by JK Parkin in Conventions, DC Comics, NYCC 2008, News & Views [ Permalink ] […]

  10. Nerites Says:

    I really love it.

    I think they all look gorgeous as they should. I cannot wait to own three of them.

  11. Book Calendar Says:

    It shows a lot more taste than most pictures of superheroines. They aren’t in bathing suits and boots which is a big improvement. I rather like the image. It reminds me a bit of classical greece. Maybe they are visiting Diana (Wonder Woman) on her mythical island.

  12. one diverse comic book nation » The Real Power Of The DC Universe Says:

    […] was reading Johanna Draper Carlson’s Comics Worth Reading and found this fabulous image by Adam Hughes that was released at the New York Comic-Con this […]

  13. William Burns Says:

    Someday I’d like to see an acknowledgement that ugly women can be heroes too, but I’m not holding my breath.

  14. Alex Says:

    Chris W., just because this is less sexist than a normal comics book doesn’t mean it isn’t sexist. I honestly don’t see how this could not be seen as been sexist.

  15. Chris Griswold Says:

    So why is it sexist? I don’t understand all these guys in a feminist rage over a nice-looking picture. I think the women look nice but also strong. It’s a glamour like one in Vanity Fair (see the recent “funny women” photo shoot).

  16. Dexter Morgan Says:

    “Someday I’d like to see an acknowledgement that ugly women can be heroes too, but I’m not holding my breath.”

    Well of course ugly women can be heroes — we just don’t need to see them posing in sexy pictures.

  17. Lisa Fary Says:

    I really don’t see how this image is sexist. Yes, the women are sexy, but sexy doesn’t automatically equal sexist. This shows them to be more than their costumes, more than their heroic (or villainous, as the case may be) identities.

  18. Alan Coil Says:

    Is Zatanna taking off her hat, or just tipping it to the audience?
    When a Gay or Lesbian person comes out, isn’t that, in a way, retconning their established continuity?
    I vote “not sexist” for the poster.

  19. Riot Says:

    I love it! They’re all very much in control of their sexuality, and I like how they look the viewer right in the face. It’s very classy. I’m casting my lot in with the “not sexist” camp.

    Lois Lane would have been a nice addition.

    It would be a nice companion poster to have a similar spread of the guys wearing tuxs or classy suits.

  20. James Schee Says:

    Sexist?? I guess if it was a close up shot with them standing bent over I could see that. Or if they were in swimsuits or lingerie. Yet this just looks nice and cool.

    Its okay to like pretty women… right?

  21. Johanna Says:

    I’d like to hear more about the rationale for calling this sexist, myself, since I don’t understand it. Of course a poster image is meant to be looked at!

  22. KET Says:

    “Of course a poster image is meant to be looked at!”

    Yeah, but the image is also terribly patronizing to the all-too-typical ‘slobbering fanboy’ mindset. It’s a blatant Vanity Fair/Vogue cover ripoff; these super-gals might as well be modeling for Victoria’s Secret as well, since they’re all seen out of their ‘power suits’.

    This poster also unfortunately reminds me of that old Silver Age Brave and the Bold comic wherein Wonder Woman and Supergirl give up heroing and become French models. Some ‘progress’ being made since then, DC. :(

  23. david brothers Says:

    The Vanity Fair/Vogue ripoff is kind of the point, here.

    I do not get how “Evening dress” equates to being “out of their power suits,” though, which I think is a reference to being naked?

  24. Lyle Says:

    Well of course ugly women can be heroes — we just don’t need to see them posing in sexy pictures.

    Can they, though? I mean if I try to think of an equally prominent monstrous female hero for every Thing or Hulk, I get stuck trouble quickly…

  25. Rob Spencer Says:

    Well, I think I can see a possible angle for the sexist observations, albeit one that hasn’t been articulated.
    The argument so far seems to be that it is sexist to look at women, but it’s more about the specific context. The problem is the tagline ‘The Real Power of the DCU’. They clearly are not the real powers, either editorially or in sales numbers. Batman is always smarter, and Superman is always stronger and morally sound. And they have the multiple monthly titles (and movies) to prove their market ‘power’. So it’s condescending and patronizing to label the women as such.

    But the easiest argument is the double standard rule: where is the equivalent poster of the Men of the DCU?

    I like it, so I’m just saying.

  26. David Oakes Says:

    Really, there is only one question here. Is this image of Vanity Fair’s 2001 Hollywood issue “sexist”?

    Because if it isn’t, then the only reason we are having this argument is that it is a) comics, b) superheroines, and/or c) Adam Hughes. That comic book fans have been beaten with the Sexism Stick for so long that they no longer even know what images of women are culturally accptable.

    (And if it is sexist, it is still an accomplishment that comics books have risen to the same level as the rest of Western Civilization, and we should praise the effort while expecting more.)

    Considering that I am sure I have seen exactly this image, Anne Libowitz(esque) women in white, right down to one in a pants suit with legs spread, another as the Thinker, I would be screaming “Copyright Infringment” long before I got around to fandom’s other hobby horse of “Sexism”.

  27. seth hollander Says:

    Maybe it wouldn’t be “sexist” if the image was of the women in dirty overalls and protective equipment with their hair pulled back and dirt on their faces as they help dig out the remains of the World Trade Center during 9/11. Heroic and non-“sexist”.
    Oh, but wait! How am I correlating “dirty overalls and protective equipment” with non-“sexist”. Because I think of “dirty overalls and protective equipment” as being non-feminine, i.e. “manly”. So now I’m “sexist”!
    My point: “Sexism” is a consequence of gender identity in societies. When everyone shaves his or her head and we all wear identical unitards we can start saying goodbye to “sexism”. Otherwise, I think we’re stuck with it.
    The Hughes poster is “sexist”, sure, but only in an oblique way, in my opinion. Adam Hughes is hired to draw characters who have always been depicted as hot babes, so that’s what he’s drawing. His skill at drawing hot babes accentuates that element of the characters (” these super-gals might as well be modeling for Victoria’s Secret”). As a sexually underfed male I love his eye candy, but if I was a normal-looking female, I’d probably feel threatened, belittled, even humiliated. But he didn’t draw them in submissive poses or bondage gear, or in any way that’s demeaning beyond the norms of “polite society’.
    While writing the above bit, I read Rob Spencer’s comment. Inspired me:
    “where is the equivalent poster of the Men of the DCU?”
    I think DC wanted to market to females because they lack female readers. They’ve got plenty of male readers, so no “Men Of” poster.
    Why don’t they have many female readers? Gee, maybe because the comic companies can’t stop making visual portrayals of females “hot” instead of “plain” or “ugly”, and because the male characters (almost always) are more capable than the females.
    The comic companies don’t need to drop dresses from their visual repertoire, but they need to drop mandatory beauty requirements for female characters and introduce visual variety, they need to drop boobs and butts shots, they need to drop male- characters-know-better stories or balance them with women-characters-know-better stories (and not only know-better about relationship issues or fashion tips, either!).
    My mixed message: Anti-sexist flag-wavers should lay off the poster, but not lay off the issue itself. Well, my 2 cents ran on a bit…

  28. In One Ear… Says:

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  29. fontgoddess Says:

    I think the composition is amazing, and the women look powerful and confident. I hope DC does a poster (sans folding) that I can buy for my wall.

  30. notintheface Says:

    A picture of a beautiful woman or women should not automatically be judged “sexist” just by virtue of its existence. Yes, blatant fan-wank pandering shots should be railed against, but there was none of that here.

    This picture looks quite classy and the only offensive thing to me was that veteran Lois Lane was left out in favor of that newbie Batwoman.

  31. Álvaro Says:

    Really don’t see the problem with the composition. This picture is clearly trying to evoke a fashion mag photoshoot. They wear according clothes and hairdos: elaborate, elegant and not apt for crime fighting, walking on the steet or going to the corner shop to buy bread. So what? Such compositions are also done with men, with similar characteristics.
    The choice of theme is unusual and shocking, and that’s why it is effective. Many superheroines dressed up with their costumes? Been there, done that. Besides: one covered with leaves, one with an unrealistic breastplate, one with a stupid miniskirt, one with fishnets… yeah, that’d be much better, not a reunion of the typical teenager’s wet dreams.
    I don’t think them being beautiful is a sign of sexism by DC. Are their male counterparts really that ugly? Most superheroes and villains are slim at least, with bodies varying from athletic to bodybuilder depending on the artist’s interpretation. They all wear skin-tight suits which remark their muscles. Many wear clothing and accessories which are pointless or uncomfortable, but pleasant from an aesthetic point of view. The only really big difference I notice is in the villains: many femme-fatales for the shes, many deformed/hunchbacks for the hes.
    Other than that, DC clearly likes its characters to be more beautiful, fit, noticeable and attractive than the average human; but they hardly make a distinction between sexes.
    Frankly, if they wanted to show that there are women in their comics, that they are different in body and attitude and that they are not all silicon-filled anorexic clones, they could have done much worse than with this Adam Hughes piece.

  32. James Schee Says:

    Hmmm… I’m sitting here trying to picture a male version. It’d take one heck of an artist who knew how to draw little details since so many of DC’s male characters look alike.

    Plus he/she’d have to make it interesting, since they’d all be in black tie and suit.

  33. Nisa Lauria Says:

    Hey, is that Seth Hollander from SF? Sorry you are underfed sexually. I agree with your comment.

  34. Dave Says:

    “Other than that, DC clearly likes its characters to be more beautiful, fit, noticeable and attractive than the average human; but they hardly make a distinction between sexes.”

    So do casting directors and producers for movies and television. The one notable exception to this rule: male authority figures in a family sitcom are usually overweight buffoons who are constantly being humiliated by their wives and children. Homer Simpson is an extreme example of this. but nobody cries sexism. (‘cept maybe angry white men like me;))

  35. Johanna Says:

    I told the folks at the DC booth that I was eagerly anticipating the male equivalent with them in tuxes. I doubt it will happen, but I’d rather tell them I want it than berate them for not getting to it yet.

  36. david brothers Says:

    I think a black tux version would be awesome. Hal Jordan or John Stewart with a green tie pin, Batman holding a martini glass filled with club soda, Superman adjusting his glasses… very much yes.

  37. Vail Says:

    I think it would have been better to show the female heroes in something a little less “been there, seen that”. I can show you a dozen manga where the female cast is shown wearing evening gowns or wedding gowns in a pull out poster. . Now seeing them all in military uniforms, or baseball/football/basketball uniforms would be very nice. Something different for god’s sake.

  38. Dave Says:

    The guys in tuxes would be kind of cool, I agree – because the key to making it work would be, as in the poster of the gals, nuances of posture, facial expression and slight variations in the outfits. With no costumes to fall back on, the artist really has to make the characters act.

    I kind of like the idea, for instance, of Dick Grayson and Wally West standing together down at the far end (kind of like Harley and Ivy) with rumpled hair and tuxes, cutting up and not taking the proceedings seriously at all; Hal Jordan on the other end of the lineup looking visibly annoyed at these two (hey, he’s always annoyed by something…); Superman recognizable mainly by his spit-curl and stature with horn-rims peeking out of the breast pocket of his jacket; Batman scowling and slightly turned away; Hawkman with an Epgyptian-themed tie-pin and cane…

    Damn, I’m a nerd.

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  41. ~chris Says:

    My 16-year-old niece thinks the poster is “awesome.” (One opinion doesn’t prove a lack of sexism, of course.) I think that except for Wonder Woman, their normal costumes are more sexist. My niece agreed, and she also thinks that an Adam Hughes poster of the guys in tuxes would also be “awesome.” Did I mention she’s 16? :)

    Overall, my only quibbles are with Wonder Woman’s cleavage, Batwoman’s pants, and Oracle’s hair (let it down, Barbara!) This is Adam’s best drawing of Powergirl ever, and the first time I ever liked the window (yeah I know, that opinion doesn’t jibe with my thoughts on Diana’s dress– one likes what one likes :-P)

  42. Pedestrienne Says:

    I would have absolutely loved this when I was younger and set out to find out more about these female characters. I’m not so interested now that I’m 25. My immediate thoughts were: “How pretty! Pity they gave Oracle such a gross dress.”

  43. Evie Says:

    I sort of understand the complaints that this might be lipservice of some kind, but I do love the picture. Especially the part where the photog’s like “here Selina, put this on,” and she’s like, “sorry dude, I only wear black.”

  44. Johanna Says:

    I love that this poster is spurring other people’s creativity in pondering how the character would have thought about her choices. Others have talked about Supergirl’s motivation in wearing a dress more suited to clubbing than elegant evening wear.

  45. Sean C. Says:

    I thought it was pretty classy looking; they look hot, sure, but not in an exploitive way.

    On a minor note, 5 of the 11 are Bat-family characters (Selina, Barbara, Kate, Harley, Ivy).

    If you were doing a male version of this with tuxedos, you’d have to do a lot of pretty minor detail, apart from Ollie, of course (god bless the beard).

  46. Jill a.k.a Nerdy Bird Says:

    This poster is GORGEOUS! I want to frame it so badly. Funny thing, on the actual poster Poison Ivy’s skin is green but not on the image from his site.

    Anyway, I did a whole write up of the entire con on my blog if you want to check it out:

  47. Obi Says:


    Why people can’t simply enjoy a lovely work of art is beyond me.Wanna nitpick?Let’s see….there’s one black woman but no Asians or Hispanics so it’s clearly racist.And the fact that there are no extra terrestrial women involved also makes it discriminatory against other species.

    The fact they were all in Western dress makes it culturally insensitive,the two known(or three)known criminals included condone breaking the law,putting the youngest female and the lesbian in their respective outfits reinforces stereotypes.Ooh,ooh,ooh,I almost forgot…the exclusion of Amanda Waller is discrimination against big women.See how much fun this game is?

    We really need to get over ourselves.This is just ridiculous.

  48. Charlie Says:

    No girl Legionnaires included? I’d say Supergirl at least minimally qualifies in both current and past continuities. (Though I’d be happy to see any of the other 31st century ladies as well.)

  49. Johanna Says:

    The female Legionnaires could fill up a whole poster by themselves! (And the current Supergirl is on this poster.) Adam Hughes’ portrayal of the team visiting Atlantis in Legionnaires #7 is still one of my favorite comics.

  50. jorge tttt Says:

    I thought the one sitting down was Talia al ghul, kinda looks like her and she is with 2 other bats villains. Of course if the posetr says so, its batwoman… but her hair isnt quite RED ENOUGH… just a a thought

  51. mq1986 Says:

    I think this is an awesome picture. Japanese manga and anime have been doing posters like this for years, and it’s about time that American comics did something creative with their characters, placing them out of the context of their comics. If they did a male version, I wouldn’t mind either–and I also wouldn’t consider it sexist.

  52. iberios Says:

    jeez, you people will complain about anything! You are really just upset because you cant do better! If u think its sexist, just dont buy it or look at it anymore!

  53. Thom Says:

    What do you mean “you people”?

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  55. Travis Says:

    I love that Wonder Woman is like a full foot taller than everyone else. Shes one of the few people that could go toe to toe with Superman.

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