In general, societal norms evolve over time and standards become loosened. For instance, in the early days of television, you couldn't show a married couple share a bed (even the term "pregnant" was forbidden). By the mid 1990s, TV shows on national television at 8pm (classically referred to as "family hour") had characters having sex. However, interestingly enough, in the world of comic books, things were almost racier back in the 1940s than they are today. Certainly in the context of the time. "Good girl" art was widely popular until the Comics Code put an end to artists like Matt Baker and their pin-up model cover girls.
Over time, though, standards relaxed and now showing the human body is more and more accepted in a typical superhero comic book. With that in mind, we decided to count down the most notable superheroes asses of all-time. We're going to do this by artist - each artist gets a character and no artists appear twice. Plus, only Marvel and DC, as indie comics have a whole other set of standards (the last ones cut were Adam Hughes and Joe Madureira).
It is strange to look at early issues of the New Teen Titans, because by our modern standards, the comic book seems fairly tame. At the time, though, Marv Wolfman and George Perez were really breaking new storytelling ground. One of the areas where they particularly stood out was the fact that the Titans were clearly sexual beings. After decades of chaste romances, it was clear that the Titans actually had sex/
One of the Titans, the alien Starfire, was a being who communicated through physical contact and thus, Perez really explored her sexual side a lot. Kenneth Rocafort and Emanuela Lupacchino's New 52 Starfire is clearly even more sexual, but Perez was doing it when no one else was, so we gave him the nod.
When it comes to backsides, few artists are quite as adept at drawing them than superstar artist, J. Scott Campbell. In his debut miniseries, Gen 13, Campbell frequently prominently featured the asses of Caitlin Fairchild and Rainmaker (there's one early cover where Fairchild's butt takes up most of the cover!). For the most part, though, his most notable ass covers are typically for non-Marvel and DC titles like Red Sonja and Dejah Thoris.
However, Campbell was also an equal opportunity ass man, as when he took over cover duties on Amazing Spider-Man, he made sure that Spider-Man's skintight costume showed everything, including his backside. This was a far departure from the early days of Marvel, where Stan Lee would actively squelch any cover showing Spider-Man's butt, with artists like Jack Kirby re-drawing Steve Ditko's covers to make sure that no ass was visible.
When Frank Miller took over writing duties on Daredevil to go along with his penciling duties (working with inker/finisher Klaus Janson), it was still the early 1980s and thus there was a stigma associated with showing too much of a woman's ass. Thus, despite introducing the ninja assassin Elektra, who wore nothing but a bathing suit, there really were not a whole lot of ass shots in those early Daredevil comics.
Thus, when given the freedom to cut loose in the non Comics Code approved Elektra Lives Again in 1990, Miller went all out with the ass shots (there was also full on nudity in the issue and Matt Murdock also spends a good chunk of the story in his tighty whities). Years later, Miller also did a prominent Wonder Woman cover for All Star Batman and Robin that really showed off her butt.
12 POWER GIRL
When it comes to Power Girl, naturally almost all of the attention is placed upon her chest. She even has an infamous window cut out in her top to draw even more attention to it. Thus, her ass does not get nearly the attention that it deserves, but when you look at her costume, not only is she wearing very little up top, but she is also wearing very little down below. She doesn't wear pants, for instance.
Thus, while Amanda Conner certainly spent most of her time on Power Girl's breasts in JSA: Classified and then the Power Girl ongoing series, she did make sure to also draw a number of scenes where we could appreciate her derriere, as well. When the Justice Society crossed over with the Justice League in 2007, Justice League of America artist Ed Benes made sure to prominently feature Power Girl's butt.
Jim Lee's costume for Psylocke is essentially just a purple version of Frank Miller's costume design for Elektra. However, just like Frank Miller in the early 1980s, when Lee debuted the new costume in the pages of Uncanny X-Men in late 1989/early 1990, he, too, was likely stuck a bit on how much he was allowed to show. If you look at those early appearances, you rarely see Psylocke from behind.
That changed when Lee was given control of the X-Men books in 1991. In the first issue, Psylocke seems to be putting on a private show of "Taint Misbehavin'" in her fight with Magneto. Lee also prominently featured Psylocke's trunk-junk in a pair of spreads in Marvel's early Swimsuit Editions, as well as part of the Jim Lee-drawn X-Men trading card set (recently reprinted as variant covers for Marvel).
1993 was a very strange time for Marvel and its X-Men line of comic books. They were doing so well that they were constantly being pressured to expand the line of titles, but at the same time, the great financial success that former Marvel artists like Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane were having at Image Comics made it difficult for Marvel to get new "hot" artists. As soon as an artist would become popular, Image would just woo them away!
Thus, they had to go to some unconventional fill-in artists, like Richard Bennett, who drew a few X-Men issues in 1993 and 1994 (Including the X-Men Unlimited where Nightcrawler learned that Mystique was his mom). Bennett was seemingly obsessed with Rogue's ass. He drew it frequently and often at really odd angles. Bennett also ended up at Image Comics. He's now a successful TV and film storyboard artist.
During his run on Fantastic Four, John Byrne was a big proponent of the "illusion of change." The way he saw it, he lost one super-powered character, the Thing (in the aftermath of Marvel Super Heroes' Secret Wars) and then added another one in She-Hulk. When he added She-Hulk to the team, you could tell that Byrne had a blast drawing the voluptuous beauty and he even had an issue where a sleazy magazine publisher took pictures of her sunbathing naked.
After doing a graphic novel with She-Hulk, Byrne then did a Sensational She-Hulk ongoing series where he had She-Hulk break the fourth wall and he would often play around with her sexuality, like the various covers with her in a state of undress (or the famous one where she's allegedly skipping rope naked while the blur lines cover her body).
8 HARLEY QUINN
Even though she was created for a children's animated series, Harley Quinn has almost always been a bit of a sexual character. This was particularly evident in the Eisner Award-winning graphic novel, Mad Love, by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, which revealed Harley Quinn's origin for the first time. Dini and Timm did not shy away from Harley's sexuality in that story.
Years later, when she became a part of the DC Universe proper, it was only natural that the artists for her ongoing series would be Terry and Rachel Dodson, two of the most popular artists in the comic book business when it comes to drawing backsides. While we picked Harley Quinn to go with the Dodsons, they could also easily have been paired with Black Cat or Wonder Woman.
7 BLACK CAT
As noted earlier, the standards of the comic book industry were a lot different prior to the 1990s. It would be very rare to see an artist draw a superhero's ass in a scene. That is what made Mark Beachum stands out so much as an artist for Marvel in the mid-1980s. Beachum drew a number of issues of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man in 1985 and 1986 (including both the 1985 and the 1986 Spectacular Spider-Man Annuals) and Beachum made sure to draw him plenty of asses.
Reading an old Mark Beachum comic now is so odd, as they stand out so much from the rest of the comics of the era. Terry Dodson and Humberto Ramos both accentuated Black Cat's form, but Beachum was doing it thirty years ago! Beachum later became an erotic artist.
6 BLACK CANARY
During the first few years of Chuck Dixon's Birds of Prey run, Black Canary wore a full body suit. Right after Dixon left the book, Canary got a new outfit that was sans pants (she instead wore fishnet stockings on her legs). Soon after that, Gail Simone and Ed Benes took over as the creative team on the series. Simone's run was excellent, but the title also soon became butt-shot city, especially as Huntress was added to the team, as well.
Benes then launched Justice League of America in 2006 with Brad Meltzer and Black Canary was along for the ride, meaning that Benes drew a bunch more of Canary's ass. Benes broke into Marvel and DC as a protege of an artist that you'll see later on in the countdown.
When it comes to male superhero ass shots, there is Nightwing and then there's everyone else. There are whole websites literally devoted to Nightwing's ass. That makes sense, of course, as since Nightwing is a gymnast, so it stands to reason that his ass stays in great shape. Of course, since he is a superhero, he shows it off in lots of form-fitting spandex.
Many artists have drawn Nightwing's ass over the years, but amusingly enough, the most famous one was by artist Nicola Scott, who has only drawn Nightwing a handful of times in her career. It just so happens, though, that one of those times was in an issue of Secret Six that tied in with the Battle for the Cowl and Nightwing stopped by to warn Catman and Bane not to cause trouble... all while keeping his ass prominently featured in the panel.
4 WONDER WOMAN
Mike Deodato is an artist who has always enjoyed drawing voluptuous women, and that did not change when he got the biggest break of his career when he was named the regular artist on Wonder Woman in 1994. The Brazilian artist burst out of the gate running, as suddenly Wonder Woman's costume was no longer just a bathing suit, but it was barely concealing her ass.
Deodato spent lots of panels showing off Wonder Woman's butt and having her costume look practically like dental floss in her crack. The audience loved it and sales rose dramatically on the series and Deodato not only became a superstar but soon he was bringing over his fellow countrymen, as well, like Roger Cruz, Al Rio and, of course, Ed Benes. There were tons of ass shots between them all.
3 MS. MARVEL
Frank Cho first burst on to the scene with his syndicated comic strip, Liberty Meadows, about the animals at an animal shelter and their beautiful animal psychiatrist, Brandy Carter. Carter was extremely statuesque, and Cho constantly ran into issues with his syndicate with them wanting to censor Cho on the more salacious side of his strip. He eventually pulled the strip from syndication and just began to do it on his own.
He then began work for Marvel, where he has become famous for his full-bodied women. He has drawn a number of famous ass shots on heroes like She-Hulk and Spider-Woman, but we chose Carol Danvers (from her Ms. Marvel days) as Cho's representation on the countdown. In recent years, Cho has courted controversy with his popular sketch covers making fun of people freaking out (in his view) over ass shots.
Guillem March is a Spanish artist who was well known in Europe for his erotic pin-up artwork. March is clearly an artist who loves to draw the female form. At his blog, he talks about how when he is just drawing on his own time, he inevitably ends up drawing naked women.
Thus, when DC Comics hired March to draw Gotham City Sirens, he clearly was going to draw the same way he did in Europe, and sure enough, the series (starring Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy) was filled with ass shots. After the New 52, he was hired to launch Catwoman. His Catwoman on the cover of Catwoman #0 had such a big bum that DC edited the cover after the fact. Adam Hughes almost got the Catwoman spot on the countdown, but you can't beat "was forced to tone down the size of an ass" for a list like this.
Legendary Italian comic book artist Milo Manara broke into comics in the late 1960s and soon developed his iconic style, which builds detailed and clever erotic adventures that constantly push the boundaries of the medium. Those types of stories have long been a lot more acceptable in Europe than they have been in the United States and Manara is regarded as a master in Europe (in the States, as well, where he was inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame).
Eventually, Marvel began hiring Manara to do variant covers for some of their comics. Sure enough, they mostly involved him drawing Marvel female superheroes in over-the-top sexualized positions. One cover in particular, for Spider-Woman #1, drew a lot of unwanted attention for Marvel and Manara with people outraged over just how big Spider-Woman's butt was displayed on the cover, and in such an impossible, over-idealized manner.
Which superhero bums did we miss? Give your butt knowledge a crack in the comments section!