Last Daughter of Krypton was rendered and designed by revered DC Comics artist, Adam Hughes. Hughes is known for his “Good Girl” approach to the DC Comics heroines. Supergirl’s debut was in 1959 in Action Comics #252. In 1986, she was killed during the epic Crisis for Infinite Earth. Supergirl would then rise again as a cross between human and alternate universe Supergirl. Each piece is hand-numbered and has been signed by Adam Hughes.
Hughes, who had no formal training in art, began his career in 1987. His first comic book work was a pinup in Eagle #6. He penciled two short stories and the first issue of Death Hawk, created by Mark Ellis. In 1988 Hughes' work appeared in Comico's Maze Agency with co-creator/writer Mike W. Barr. Hughes produced his first color work for the book, and because he aspired to ink his own work one day, took Barr's suggestion that he produce pinups on each issue's back cover as an advertisement for the next issue to practice inking his own pencils. Hughes stayed on the series for a year. In 1989, he did his first work for DC Comics, doing both covers and interior art on Justice League America for two years, before switching to providing covers only.
At the age of 24, Hughes moved to Atlanta, Georgia to join Gaijin Studios, believing that working more closely alongside fellow artists would improve his own skills. Hughes stayed with Gaijin Studios for 12 years. That same year, he penciled Comics' Greatest World: Arcadia #3 for Dark Horse Comics, which featured the first appearance of the supernatural character Ghost. He drew that character subsequently in the 1994 one-shot Ghost Special. When that character was given her own series in 1995, Hughes penciled the first three-issue storyline, "Arcadia Nocturne".
From 1994 to 1995, Hughes drew the satirical storyline "Young Captain Adventure", which appeared in the first several issues of the adult comics anthology magazine Penthouse Comix. Hughes also provided a painted cover for issue #2, and a pinup in issue #26 in 1997.
Hughes wrote and illustrated the interiors of the 1996 two-issue miniseries, Gen¹³: Ordinary Heroes from WildStorm. In late 1998 he began a four-year run as cover artist on DC ComicsWonder Woman. He also provided cover art on Tomb Raider from Top Cow Comics. He would eventually gain a reputation as one of the best known and distinctive comic book cover artists.
When Wizards of the Coast created their d20-based Star Wars RPG, he created designs for both the original and revised core rulebooks, as well as the Star Wars: Invasion of Theedadventure game mini-RPG. When he reused his portrait of the Jedi guardian, Sia-Lan Wezz (his favorite character), for the cover of the 2005 one-shot Star Wars: Purge as a gag, there was such editorial interest that she was written into the story as one of Darth Vader's early victims.
In May 2007, a month after the release of the feature film Spider-Man 3, Sideshow Collectibles debuted a miniature statuette of Mary Jane Watson, a perennial love interest of Spider-Man's, based on artwork by Hughes. The statue, which depicts Mary Jane wearing a cleavage-revealing T-shirt and low-cut jeans that expose the top of a pink thong while bending over a metal tub holding Spider-Man's costume, generated controversy among some fans who felt that the statue was sexist. Marvel addressed the matter by stating, "The Mary Jane statuette is the latest release in a limited edition collectibles line. The item is aimed at adults that have been long-time fans of the Marvel Universe. It is intended only for mature collectors and sold in specialty, trend, collectible and comic shops – not mass retail." Sideshow Collectibles stated, "Our product is not produced to make a political or social statement but is fashioned after entertainment properties currently in the market place (sic). We suggest that if you do find the Mary Jane product offensive that you refrain from viewing that web page." Elizabeth McDonald of girl-wonder.org, an organization dedicated to "high-quality character depiction" in the comics industry, was incredulous at the statue's design, though she stated, "Honestly, the difficulty with this statuette is that if you're a woman who likes comics, it's not even noteworthy. Many male comic fans can't understand the outrage it's generated, since this is fairly tame within the industry. This portrayal of Mary Jane could be considered superior to some in the industry, since her clothes don't seem to be actively falling off her". The Toronto Star's Malene Arpe echoed this, pointing to female characters with even more revealing appearances, such as Black Cat and Witchblade. Gary Susman of Entertainment Weekly lamented that the statuette was not issued some weeks earlier, so that it could have been included in the website 10 Zen Monkeys' list of "Ten Worst Spiderman Tie-Ins".
In 2008 DC Comics hired Hughes to create a poster of the major female characters in the DC Universe as a giveaway for that year's San Diego Comic-Con, to promote DC's upcoming projects. The poster, called "Real Power of the DC Universe", features 11 female characters, standing and sitting abreast of one another, as in a Vanity Fair gatefold layout. The characters are mostly clad in white outfits rather than their familiar superhero costumes, as per DC's request, so Hughes, wanting to avoid making the poster look like a bridal magazine layout, gave each outfit a slightly different color temperature. He also gave each character a distinctive style. The garment worn by Wonder Woman, for example, resembles a Greek stola, while the one worn by Poison Ivy features a floral trim. Because the Catwoman series was coming to an end, DC instructed Hughes to leave her off the poster, but Hughes, who was fond of the character, drew her on the far left, figuring that he would Photoshop her out of the final art. At the last minute, however, DC, having seen his progress, decided that liked her inclusion, and told Hughes to leave her in. She is dressed in a black latex evening gown, with only a white shawl, because Hughes had less than 24 hours after DC revised their decision to include her, and found it easier to render her in a black outfit. Hughes reasoned that Selina would be irritated at being intentionally left out and then being included as the last minute, and wore the blackest thing she could out of spite. The poster has become an iconic one, with a long-lived popularity, and has resulted in requests for Hughes to do various other similar ones with men, Marvel characters, etc. It is one of the images for which Hughes has gained a reputation as one of comics' foremost cheesecake artists. About this status, Hughes has said:
I don’t know if I embrace the term 'cheesecake artist'. I don't like hugging anything. Maybe I give the term a warm yet firm handshake? It's great to be known for being good for something, and it not being altogether infamous.