Batman Bares it All
Look out comics lovers, Batman has bared it all!
For decades, DC Comics, home of Batman, Wonder Woman and many other beloved superheroes, followed the guidelines of the Comics Code Authority, established in 1954. In order to get the CCA stamp of approval (it's an actual stamp, kids, I'm not making this up) comic producers had to adhere to a pretty strict list of guidelines. No nudity, no sex, no swearing, no gay stuff - there was also some weird stuff about religion and right triumphing over evil. Most stores would not put comics on their shelves without the CCA stamp.
Overtime, comic producers got sick of the CCA and eventually mostly ignored them, but they still kept the books pretty tame so as to be able to market to kids and teens not piss off the 'family values' crew.
The code paved the way for a lot of other smaller producers who didn't give a flying fuck about the CCA to made all kinds of underground, sexy, salacious comic goodness. Well, it seems DC wants into that game now. They've just launched DC black label.
On their website DC says: 'DC Black Label is a brand-new publishing imprint dedicated to giving premier writers and artists the chance to expand on DC’s unrivalled characters with unique, standalone stories set outside DC continuity. The imprint will be DC’s home for classy, collectible superhero stories aimed at mature readers looking to be challenged and surprised as they’re entertained, with an eye for the unique and remarkable.'
Of course they are doing this label to provide opportunities to produce more comics and appeal to a broader audience, I get that. But really, the second sentence is just nice language for 'We know you want to see sex and boobs and gore and we want to give it to you'.
They wasted no time. In the very first issue, entitled Batman: Damned #1, you get to see Batman's dick!
Predictably, a lot of people lost their shit. While many comic shop owners are revelling in the publicity the book is getting, others have contacted DC and expressed outrage that they did not warn them there would be a cock in the comic book.
There has been the predictable pearl clutching 'What about the kids who will see this??'. And concerns about parents freaking out and boycotting stores or calling the police (that may sound ridiculous but there have been raids on comic book stores in the not so distant past).
As the owner of an adult business, I get that second concern, all it takes is one wing nut who gets angry about their kid maybe, possibly, seeing a dick and you could have a world of hurt show up at your door.
But can't we all just take a step back here? It's just a penis. I think we all were fairly certain that Batman had one. After all, he runs around in tights that don't leave too much to the imagination. Approximately half of the world's population have them (dicks not tights). Why is it such a big deal if we see a drawing of one in a comic book?
What really blows me away is the double-standard. Even books that had the CCA stamp and tended to work on appealing to a 'family audience' still threw in a heck of a lot of near nudity. Almost all female superheroes - heck almost all females ever featured in comic books show a lot of leg and lot of cleavage and sideboob. In many cases, the clothing is barely even there - just a wink at saying that this is not actually comic nudity.
So if it's okay to show women naked or mostly naked why are we freaking out about one bat boner? Penises exist, why is it such a big deal? My understanding is the bat penis appears in a scene where Batman wakes up naked, having absolutely no idea where he is and what happened to him. Being naked ads to the story because it emphasizes that he has absolutely nothing with him, he is completely without resources or defences. It actually is a part of the story. Why do you have to put clothes on him when it detracts from the story to do so?
This is yet another case of our culture conflating nudity with sex. Nudity is not always sexual - in fact, it's often not. Being naked is actually far more natural than wearing clothes. If we stopped trying to hide naked bodies, perhaps we would just get used to them and not make such a big deal when someone happens to see one.
But then again, we wouldn't sell nearly as many comics if we did that.