It is the age of the all-powerful female superhero, anti-hero and even villain. DC has always had the most popular lady hero of all time with Wonder Woman, who was always depicted as an equal to Batman and Superman in the holy Trinity. Even in the current landscape of new and improved superheroines, DC’s long-time roster of ultimately strong women is still the most impressive on comic book pages, television series and movies.
While many characteristics perfectly blended together to create the ultimate heroine or villainess, this list is focused on actual superpowers — as in, who would win in a fight. We know that femme fatales often win by outsmarting their evil opponents, but in this case, we are looking at brute strength, special abilities and superhuman skills. You definitely don’t want to be on the bad side of any of these DC women!
15. POISON IVY
Poison Ivy is sometimes a hero and sometimes a villain, but she is always deadly! She is, after all, the only woman who can kill with a kiss. Using her superior intelligence as a botanist and ecologist, Ivy can control plants and mix up herbal concoctions to do her lethal bidding. Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley is technically known as an “eco-terrorist,” but she loves her plants and mostly uses her one of a kind flower powers to take care of the earth.
Poison Ivy was created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff way back in June of 1966. She first caught our eye in “Batman” #181 and has been a member of his Rogues Gallery ever since. Pamela was once one of the top scientists in her field. However, a male colleague tricked her into stealing an ancient artifact that had a rare herb inside. He poisoned her with the ancient herb and her body turned toxic to the touch. Needless to say, Ivy hasn’t been too fond of men since.
14. BLACK CANARY
Black Canary is a world-class martial artist and has the power to stun her opponents with her signature high-pitched sonic scream – the Canary Cry. She can shatter entire buildings to the ground and stop her enemies in their tracks using just her voice. She is often seen riding her motorcycle, mastering multiple backflips, gliding through the sky and boxing harder than her male counterparts.
Dinah Drake was created by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino and debuted in “Flash Comics” #86 in August of 1947, making her one of DC’s earliest superheroines. Her daughter Dinah Laurel Lance has since taken over the mantle as Black Canary was passed down as a legacy title. Although the Canary is often paired up with her romantic and professional man friend Green Arrow, she does just fine on her own. Of course, we can’t forget her powerful girl gang, the Birds of Prey, which she fronts alongside Oracle and Huntress. You can catch her in her current ongoing DC Rebirth series, “Black Canary And The Birds of Prey.”
13. BIG BARDA
Big Barda is not human; she is a New God from Apokolips, meaning she is genetically perfect (more powerful than her husband), immortal, resistant to blunt force and has superhuman agility, strength, stamina and speed. Even without all of her body armor, motherbox and alien tech, a nuclear bomb couldn’t take down Big Barda and that’s pretty damn powerful! Barda was originally a member of the Female Furies, a group of warrior women that protected Apokolips under the leadership of Darkseid via Granny Goodness.
We first met Big Barda in “Mister Miracle” #4 way back in 1971, when she met Scott Free, Darkseid’s adopted son, and fell in love with him. The two lovebirds escaped Apokolips together and got married. Their relationship is a bit of a role reversal – Big Barda is significantly stronger than her husband and protects him from enemies rather than the other way around. As powerful as she is, let’s be thankful that adult film she was almost forced to star in with Superman never happened.
Zatanna is not human either, she is a member of the mystical race Homo Magi and daughter of a famous magician with ties to Leonardo da Vinci. She possesses the unique power of manipulating magical elements like fire, water, wind, light, rock and shadows. Zatanna is known for casting her lethal spells by speaking backwards. Although she carries a wand and wears a silly hat, she doesn’t need these props as she has the natural ability to astrally project, create illusions, alter time and reality, move objects with her mind and transform bullets into paper airplanes.
Zatanna is easily the most powerful mystic in the entire DC Universe. We first met her in “Hawkman” #4 back in 1964 when she began assisting the Justice League of America before she became an official member. Since then, she has wiped the minds of many heroes and villains, including Catwoman. Selina started to mistrust her own decisions and feelings once she learned that Zatanna intervened with her mind. Batman wasn’t too happy to learn what Zatanna had done, but they are all bat pals now.
11. JESSE QUICK
Jesse Quick is one of the only female speedsters to be connected to the much-vaunted Speed Force, and as such, is able to move about half as fast as the speed of light. Jesse also has the powerful ability to heal quickly and has an increased sense of smell, taste, vision and hearing, all of which are thanks to the Speed Force, as well. She can also manipulate her molecules to phase through objects and, of course, is the fastest female on DC’s roster of superheroines. Oh, she can also create black holes in the universe, just in case you still needed to be impressed.
She first appeared in “Justice Society of America” Vol. 2 #1 as Jesse Chambers back in 1992, the daughter of Golden Age speedsters Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle. She originally didn’t want to be a superhero and chose to study them instead; however, she finally gave in to her father’s wishes and he taught her how to draw her powers from the Speed Force. We often see Jesse Quick side by side with fellow speedster Wally West, although he did betray her!
Starfire might be known as one of the “sexiest” DC superheroines, but she is also one of the most powerful. She is a princess from the planet Tamaran; as such, her alien DNA gives her the unique ability to absorb otherwise dangerous amounts of radiation and transform it into pure energy, using it as a weapon called Starbolts. Starfire can absorb radiation from other lifeforms, too, like when she sucked the life out of a bunch of unlucky Kryptonians. She also learned how to speak English simply by kissing Dick Grayson, which is fortunate for everyone involved.
Starfire, real name Koriand’r, was first introduced as part of the Earth One continuum in “DC Comics Presents” #26 in 1980, but somehow made the jump to New Earth. After years of captivity, torture and a battle with her evil sister, Starfire made it to Earth where she found the Teen Titans. She quickly fell in love with Dick Grayson (then Robin) and the two were a few seconds away from marriage until Raven showed up and decimated the priest.
Speaking of dark and moody Raven, she is easily one of the most powerful women in DC comic book history. She’s a superhero plagued with the powers of dark magic and has a demon for a dad. Although she wants to use her powers for good, sometimes she loses control of her emotions and kills priests out of jealousy, for example. Raven is also tele-empathetic, meaning she can teleport using her Soul-Self, which fights for her, manipulates others through telekinesis and manifests as a force field.
Raven, also known as Rachel Roth, is a prominent member of “Teen Titans”. Sadly, she is a product of sexual assault when her demonic father Emperor Trigon forced himself on her human mother Ariella, who ran off to join a cult. She first appeared alongside of Starfire in “DC Comics Presents” #26 in 1980. Although she was raised by monks, she still has a real hard time controlling her emotions, which are fueled by the demonic powers of Azar. Basically, she’s got a dark demon inside of her constantly trying to turn her evil. Fighting that all on her own, Raven has proven herself time and time again to be extremely powerful.
Although it is considered a curse, Hawkgirl (of the Golden Age era) is the only superheroine who can cheat death repeatedly with the power of reincarnation alongside of Hawkman. The most well-known version of Hawkgirl (also known as Hawkwoman) is Shayera Hol, who draws her powers from a rare and unique metal from her home planet of Thanagar. Nth Metal defies gravity and gives Hawkgirl the power of flight and advanced healing. Her trusty mace and weaponry made from the mystery metal are lethal to her enemies, almost as much as her tremendous bloodlust and battle skill. Teamed up with the Birds of Prey, Hawkgirl has long had a penchant for violence and remains a powerful warrior, either in main DC continuity or on Earth 2.
The original Hawkgirl, Shiera Sanders Hall, was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Dennis Neville, and first appeared in “Flash Comics” #1 in 1940. She was the reincarnation of the Egyptian princess Chay-Ara. Both her lover, Prince Khufu (who later is reincarnated as her modern day lover, Carter Hall), and her were violently murdered with a knife made of Nth metal, causing them to die and be reborn many times. No matter who they are reincarnated as, however, Hawkgirl and Hawkman always find each other just to die all over again. Romantic, right?
Vixen holds the power of the entire animal kingdom, thanks to her magical family heirloom, the Tantu Totem necklace. She can harness the ferocity of a lion, the speed of a cheetah and the brute strength of a bull to battle anyone who dares to harm mother nature; and those are just the beginnings of her savage powers. An underwater fight is no problem for Vixen because she can grow gills in an instant, for example. She’s an animal rights activist who has the rare power of being able to tap into the abilities of any animal to ravage her enemies.
Mari McCabe was born in the African nation of Zambesi where her mother was murdered by animal poachers. She first appeared in “Action Comics” #521 in 1981 as a fierce protector of the innocent and the earth. Vixen has teamed up with Justice League, Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey and even defeated Gorilla Grodd with the Flash! A ferocious female that carries the prowess of the entire animal kingdom with her is one powerful and deadly woman. Hear her roar!
The bat family has been comprised of many powerful superheroes throughout the history of DC comics. As such, Batwoman has proven to be its strong matriarch. As soon as Kate Kane put on her utility belt, she became a powerful protector of Gotham alongside of Batman and Batgirl. Although Kate can be a bit self-destructive, she is the closest thing to Batman thanks to her extensive special ops training and high level of investigative intelligence. She could easily take over for Batman, and has even proven to be his better on many occasions.
Kate Kane is a typical army brat who moved from town to town as a young child and instantly fell in love with Gotham. She tragically lost her way after being kicked out of West Point for being openly gay, which launched her down a dark and dangerous path until Batman showed up. She first appeared in “52” #7 in 2006 and currently has her own solo title as part of DC Rebirth.
There have been quite a few women who’ve carried the mantle of Huntress, the two most popular being Helena Wayne (daughter of Earth-2 Bruce Wayne and Catwoman ) and Helena Bertinelli (the daughter of a Sicilian mobster) both members of the Bat Family. Helena Wayne was trained to become the next Batman and spent time fighting alongside her father as Robin. She is immune to all types of poison and is well-known for her superior skills with a bow and arrow.
Huntress can drive a motorcycle better than anyone in comic book history (except maybe Ghost Rider) and is more accurate with a batarang than the Caped Crusader, himself. Huntress has teamed up with Power Girl for their own series “Worlds’ Finest” and has been a member of Justice League, Birds of Prey and Justice Society. Bertinelli is the most violent of the two versions, and enjoys torturing and killing her enemies. Golden Age Huntress was first introduced in 1977 in “DC Super Stars” #17. Huntress is one deadly lady and remains a fan favorite to this day.
4. BATGIRL (BARBARA GORDON)
Another prime member of the Bat Family is Batgirl. Barbara Gordon is the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon, but felt she could do more as a vigilante, inspired by batman and Robin, than she ever could working with her father. Despite her many years of superheroics and a gigantic fanbase, Batgirl is unfortunately best known for being the victim in arguably the most controversial story arc when it comes to women in comics. In “The Killing Joke,” she was sexually violated, shot and left paralyzed by The Joker, sparking a heated debate about violence towards women in comics.
Not only does Batgirl rival Batman when it comes to pure combat skill and investigative work — having learned from the best in the business, like Batman and her on-again-off-again lover, Nightwing — she’s also a computer and tech whiz, using her skills to become Oracle during her paralysis, acting as the heart of the Bat Family command center. Despite her place of authority as Oracle, Batgirl is quite the rebel, protecting Gotham with her own brand of justice.
Out of all the powerful females on this list, Mera is one of the most total-package badasses. She rules the seven seas alongside of Aquaman, which, in and of itself, gives her a lot of clout. Moreover, along with being able to breathe underwater, she also possesses the powerful ability to bend it to her will (even making constructs to use in her attacks). She is also trained as an undersea warrior and assassin. That has made her a little hot-headed and overly aggressive, which makes her feel like an outsider on solid ground, but her undying love for Aquaman, and deep down, her reverence for life in general, softens her otherwise gruff manner and drives her to be a true hero.
Mera first appeared in 1963 in “Aquaman” #1 as a princess who eventually became the revered Queen of Atlantis. She was the princess of the underwater kingdom of Xebel and was sent on a mission to actually kill the King of Atlantis (Aquaman), but instead she fell in love with him and betrayed her own people. Mera is the epitome of a fiery redhead and is feared in the DC universe because of her unwavering power and devotion.
Supergirl, the Kryptonian cousin of Superman, is the most powerful teenager on the planet. The Girl of Steel has all of the same superpowers that Superman does, with the added rage that comes with the growing pains that comes with maturing on a planet she doesn’t understand. As such, Kara Zor-El has superhuman strength, speed, heat vision, freeze breath and heightened senses. Along with the power of flight, she packs one devastating and sometimes uncontrollable punch. This makes her more dangerous than the Man of Steel as she is still learning about her supreme powers; luckily, she’s also a quicker study, and has earned every bit of her fierce and loyal fanbase (throughout many of her incarnations).
Sent rocketing towards Earth by her parents as her home planet of Krypton was destroyed, Supergirl first appeared in “Action Comics” #252 in 1952. Her legacy has endured throughout many re-imaginings of her character, and she currently enjoys yet another ongoing solo series as part of DC Rebirth. She’s also on television in her own successful series on The CW, stars in multiple animated films, cartoons and novels, and is an integral part of DC Super Hero Girls. Supergirl is everywhere, and we couldn’t be happier about it!
1. WONDER WOMAN
Without question, Wonder Woman is the most powerful DC superheroine in the entire DC universe. She is one third of The Holy Trinity and stands equally next to Batman and Superman. Wonder Woman is the first female superhero, is often seen as the first feminist icon in comics and was most recently confirmed as bisexual in DC Rebirth. As such, she’s an inspirational role model for all women and a constant beacon of hope, courage and strength.
As far as her actual powers go, Wonder Woman was trained as an ultimate Amazonian warrior since birth on her female-only homeland of Themyscira. Super-strong, fast and durable, Wonder Woman is an undeniable powerhouse. At the same time, she makes great use of an array of gadgets, including her Lasso of Truth and invisible jet. Wonder Woman has gained popularity again most recently since her live-action big screen debut in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” She is also the very first female to lead her own comic book movie with the upcoming film “Wonder Woman,” directed by Patty Jenkins.
Who is your favorite powerful woman at DC Comics? Let us know in the comments!