Dark, gritty, Freudian slips, that's what DC Comics are known for. It's no surprise that Bruce Wayne has been dealt something to rival his childhood trauma: his manhood. From artist Lee Bermejo ("Batman: Noẽl") and writer Brian Azzarello ("Joker"), "Batman: Damned" bears flesh and blood, and flesh again.
The Joker is supposedly murdered and Batman is looking for his killer, but the culprit, like Batman's "sidekick," takes on existential proportions. The graphic novel is the first installment in DC's Black Label series, publishing panels for mature readers.
Vox's Alex Abad-Santos shows the uncensored and censored comparisons and acknowledges the controversy over male nudity from a comic book, saying it was "a brilliant marketing move."
Late night hosts Seth Myers and Stephen Colbert took jabs at Batman too. Seth mentions how "glad [he is] that [Batman's] parents aren't alive to see this." Stephen shares a scene from the animated TV show "Super Friends" and a right-wing view.
Others like Scott Snyder, scheduled for a future DC Black Label Batman story, has no skin in the game, where he tweets:
Martian Manhunter. Just wait... Honestly though, I don't see the big deal re: Batman: Damned. The most wild, daring stuff is in the storytelling. The nudity is secondary and more symbolic, just showing Bruce more exposed, vulnerable.
Batman is a creature of the night, so it makes sense why he would be free as a bat in the comfort of his Bat Cave. He disrobes, the Batcomputer does a body scan, (for injuries, not size) and the loins are... lost in the shadows.
According to The Guardian, only 115,000 copies in print feature a full frontal Batman while the digital versions and reprints have a complete blackout silhouette. The DC Black Label does what it promises with this adaptation of the Batman universe but revokes the original panel due to the unflattering opinions of readers, saying this kind of imagery is "not additive" to the story.
The addition of a nude male superhero, one that is in literal darkness, to begin with, is on par with some of the female superheroes' less-than-practical and more-than-revealing costumes.
Mature readers can read pass a "sex sells" ploy here, but it is understandable why the story loses focus, even if it is a brief moment. DC Comics has decided to place Batman: Damned #1 out of publication indefinitely, making the issue a hot collector's item.
But does it really hurt the Batman mythos? Were people not aware that a man dressed as a bat had a penis? What's next, Superman wears rubbers?
If it's not too much violence, it's too much nudity and vice versa. Even it's anatomical position could be incorrect, but regardless, it's a comic book, people. Exposing the man behind the mask with everything he was endowed did not hurt more than it helped.
Readers forget the orphaned, playboy billionaire and remember the vigilante hero in search of justice. Long story short, a person's entitled to drop their trousers after a hard night of crime-fighting.
So make like Batman and suspend your disbelief.