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DC Is Really Worried About That Whole Batman Nudity Thing

On the subject of things you all need to apologize for ...

lego batman

A short while ago, though with this news cycle it feels like a year ago, DC released a Batman comic under their new Black Label imprint. Black Label, for those not in the know, is basically DC’s R-rated division, where they’ll tell stories not necessarily bound by canon that range from the fascinating to the mature. Inspired by the success of books like Watchmen and The Killing Joke, these books will push content boundaries as well as draw in big name writers.

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This new Batman comic featured an up close and personal look at Bruce Wayne’s batarang, if you know what I mean. Naturally, because we are all base creatures, it was all anyone could talk about. This is somewhat understandable, since we don’t often see penises (penii? penes?), especially in comics. The geek media freaked out almost as much as we did when Chris Pine rocked out with his Spock out. For essentially the same reasons, I might add.

DC, of course, did not anticipate the press that the Caped Crusader’s penis would garner. Future prints of the issue will censor the nudity, and going forward the comics behemoth will be more considerate of what is in the books. At NYCC, DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee said, “It’s made us, certainly, look at what Black Label is and think about whether these elements are additive to the story. And that’s something that we’ll be mindful of going forward, because I don’t think we want necessarily a repeat of what happened with the first issue.”

Fellow co-publisher Dan DiDo added, “It’s something we wished never happened, because it really took the attention away from what we thought was quality storytelling, and that’s not the way we see this imprint.”

To this I say… there are so many other gross things to apologize for, and you all chose this?

Female nudity never gets an apology. Violence against women rarely gets an apology. A man’s penis being presented in a non-sexual light, which inspires discussion? Oh boy, we better reconsider our entire mature line of comics.

Meanwhile, does anyone remember the animated version of The Killing Joke in which Barbara Gordon is once more reduced to a fridged trope and the writer refers to her sexual assault as just the Joker “taking pictures of her to freak out her dad”?

DC, I want to love and support you. But this is A+ nonsense. People laughed and made Bat-puns about Bruce baring it all because of society’s puritanical views on male nudity in film and media. You are acting like our giggling is grounds for re-thinking an entire imprint’s content when you engage with gross behavior aimed at women frequently.

Women are naked in your comics for the male gaze all the time, so where’s the fuss on that? Where’s the apology for The Killing Joke and other books like it? Personally, I’m still waiting for an apology for that “let’s audition to draw a Harley Quinn comic where she’s naked in the bath contemplating suicide” thing from a few years back.

It’s Batman’s penis. It’s not a hill anyone should choose to die on. If you want to reflect on the content that matters to your books, make sure that you’re not engaging in gross and sexist behavior. Otherwise, you come off as more concerned for fragile male egos than you do about actual women who like your comics.

(via Polygon; image: Warner Bros)

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Kate Gardner
Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.

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