Not everyone is happy with the DC’s latest Batman comic, Batman: Damned, which features Bruce Wayne’s undercarriage on full display. It’s something that hadn’t been shown off before.
Batman: Damned written by Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo is the first of DC’s Blake Label imprint, which is specifically for mature readers. The first issue of the three-issue series features two panels of Bruce Wayne’s genitalia, and those images don’t sit well with Genital Autonomy America and their director Marilyn Milos. Genital Autonomy America describes itself as “an educational and advocacy organization working to promote the rights of all infants and children to bodily integrity and genital autonomy without regard to sex, gender, culture, or religion.”
Milos spoke with The Blast revealing what her problem with the depiction was:
“Non-therapeutic amputation of the normal body part of a non-consenting minor is not only sexual child abuse and a violation of that child’s inherent right to bodily integrity and genital autonomy.”
She goes on to compare Batman to male advocates against circumcision known as the Bloodstained Men:
“They, like Batman, have goodness and right on their side, and my hope is that others who have experienced the unkindest cut also will stand up and protect the most vulnerable among us. It’s their body, it’s their right!”
Milos goes on to detail what she would tell Batman, “I’d tell Batman about foreskin restoration to regain some of what was lost,” including, “protection, sensitivity, and the gliding mechanism that makes masturbation, foreplay, and intromission so pleasurable.”
She adds, “The tens of thousands of specialized nerve endings can never be recaptured but some lost sensitivity and lots of pleasure can.”
Milos and Genital Autonomy America weren’t the only ones upset about the graphic depiction of Bruce Wayne in Batman: Damned #1.
Comic Book shop owner Patrick Potter of Comic World in Florida penned a letter to DC’s Publisher Dan DiDio. He would write:
“While DC may see no harm in this type of gratuitous display, and may feel labeling it “mature readers” is enough of a deterrent to under-18-age buyers getting their hands on it, you should have — at the very least — polybagged it with a warning to retailers to not sell copies to anyone under 18.
I guess it’s no big deal to you if some parent looks through our shelf copies, sees Batman’s penis, then files a complaint with the local authorities resulting in some clueless retailer’s arrest. I haven’t forgotten Friendly Frank’s or the reasons why the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund exists.
I will bag and label my shelf copies of this issue, and will refrain from ordering shelf copies of DC Black Label titles in the future. You have indeed successfully made an impression with your new line, Dan. Good luck with that.”
There are also reports that some parents won’t be allowing their kids to read Batman comics anymore.
Kids mom doesn’t want him to read Batman comics anymore. Kid friendly ones or otherwise. She clearly doesn’t understand it was aimed for adults but what do you expect. She’s just a concerned mom.
— jbrjr (@Richjb77) September 22, 2018
Due to the backlash, DC Comics confirmed they would be censoring future issues of Batman: Damned #1 and that Batman and Bruce Wayne’s genitals would no longer appear in future print editions. They will also be obscured by the coloring in digital editions.
However, DC Comics’ Scott Snyder, who is currently writing Justice League, was perplexed at the whole situation.
Lol. Folks who work with my wife at the hospital asking about this comic book that shows Batman’s junk. Had no idea it was this big a deal. Still don’t get it, but hey
— Scott Snyder (@Ssnyder1835) September 22, 2018
He also intimated that this was a mature reader’s line and that Batman has addressed mature content before.
Yeah it’s all tricky, but black label is a mature readers line, and Batman has been done in mature ways before w very adult subject matter. I get it gets problematic when it becomes a national (humorous) news story, but I do think there should be places for MA Batman, YA Batman https://t.co/Fqs4sdBXHz
— Scott Snyder (@Ssnyder1835) September 22, 2018
The Hollywood Reporter reports that there are around 115,000 copies of the uncensored version of Batman: Damned floating around. Copies of the uncensored book are selling upwards of $75. There is even a report that a signed copy by Lee Bermejo sold for $1,000.
Personally, I believe that since DC has already published the book and crossed that line with Batman in this comic they shouldn’t have censored it after the fact. As Scott Snyder notes, Batman has dealt with some complex and mature issues before. We’ve seen him beat a mutant leader into a bloody pulp in The Dark Knight Returns #2.
In Batman Vol. 1 #614 2003, we see Batman in the “Hush” storyline beating the Joker while thoughts of his violent crimes haunted him as he struck the villain. The savage beating went on for almost half an issue.
You could also point to Watchmen and how it utilized nudity without sensitizing the way they do it. It doesn’t appear that DC has ever censored Watchmen. In fact, according to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund notes the book’s inclusion into libraries has been challenged “at least twice.” The first instance was at a high school in Harrisonburg, Virginia reported in October of 2001. The second challenge came in 2004 at a school that has both middle schoolers and high schoolers.
Batman has always walked that line, and a brief view of his genitalia isn’t a big deal. What should be the focus was how after a night of battle against what seems to be an endless sea of human filth, Bruce Wayne came home and was shedding himself from what he swam through. But I could be wrong!
DC Comics shouldn’t censor Batman: Damned, but they should have given a heads up to their retailers about the graphic content of the issue.
We reached out to DC to ask if they’ve censored Watchmen as well. At the time of this publication we haven’t gotten word from them.
What do you think of all of this? Tell me in the comments below!