Among the big two publishers there is a fairly common occurrence whereby in order to revamp a team title that there is a shakeup of the characters that belong to that team. The new characters figure out how to work together under some duress, and then they become an unstoppable team. This is perhaps the most common with the biggest teams in the medium – the Justice League, The X-Men and the Avengers – as the smaller teams tend to stay more true to their membership. What is notable about the dynamics of these teams is when the female membership is examined. Although other teams arguably are better in terms of sales, the Justice League will generally serve as some of kind of touchstone for teams in the medium as it was the first and has the biggest names from a popular culture standpoint. The League started as a collection of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, the Flash and Aquaman, and when looked upon from that standpoint, the ratio of female to male characters is six to one.
Over the course of the Justice League’s publication history, and more or less for the publication history of every team, there has been a couple of general rules when it comes to its female members. Female members, if they are written out of the team, and if they are written out of the team, they almost always have to be replaced by another female member. Equally, when the characters are written out, there is not such a big pool to draw upon when replacing them as if a male character were written out of the story. In 2006, the Justice League of America was rebooted once again, this time after the events of Infinite Crisis, and in order to tie into the rift between the big three heroes at the time, they decided to sit down and vote on each other’s inclusion into the League as well as all of the other heroes. While this resulted in a new team, what it also did was to present a somewhat memorable cover (seen at the above right.) While it is an impressive collection of heroes, the problem of gender parity is obvious here. There is good representation of most of the popular characters here, but aside from female characters from another time, most of the female superheroes from DC are shown in one panel, whereas there are nunmerous lacking from well-known male characters, and even then the ratio of male to female characters in this picture is 30 to 12, not as bad as 6 to 1, but that still boils down to 5 to 2.
Different teams have different compositions of characters. Justice League International in the new 52 actually had a one to one gender parity (depending on who was counted in its members) and the X-Men have always been better at gender parity, the more so that the X-Men title is comprised of only female members. At the same time, medium wide, there are generally fewer female characters to draw upon if there was to be a need for them. In a real world sense, there exists equally the ability of a woman or a man to be a hero, and in terms of who could develop superpowers, seeing as the origins are so different, there is no real reason why men would be favored over women. The favoritism only exists in character design. It is not as though female characters should be expected to thrive in comics, at least from a sales standpoint, but creators should endeavor to at least create some interesting background or secondary female characters that would have a chance to grow into something more over time