By JD Phillps
(Even though his deal is rather.....y’know what, nevermind)
Last week a comic book from Brian Azzarello and DC’s new black label run of comics made headlines in ways a comic hasn’t since people were angry about the last big Batman event. (My heart still has claw marks on it. Thanks, Catwoman.) The controversy was even called out by talk show hosts like Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers. It went so far that DC erased the problem entirely from the comic.
So what is it that made people so angry? An outline of Batman’s penis. Not even the whole thing. This controversy is over the same brand of stories that frequently features women in ridiculously oversexualized poses and biologically impossible body types. An X-men comic recently was called out for portraying a traditionally Islamic mutant, Dust, in a tight-fitting, sexualized outfit. Catwoman frequently wears a costume that all but shows her nipples. Wonder Woman can push up her breasts and her butt at the same time in ways that are impossible for the human spine (maybe that’s one of her Amazonian superpowers).
While the male superheroes all wear costumes that are just as tight, somehow there is rarely even a hint of a bulge in their tiny super tighty whities. (Is there some sort of Kryptonian dance belt Superman wears while he’s flying around with tight red briefs on?) There is a real double standard here that’s frankly ridiculous in 2018.
I can understand why you don’t want any super bulges in regular comic runs that any kid could pick up (while we don’t worry at all about the psychological issues of kids reading comics where Catwoman and Harley Quinn are hypersexualized like they work at a superhero strip club) but in a comic series that’s specifically labeled for adult readers, a hint of penis shouldn’t be that much of a problem. In Azzarello’s first Batman comic in this universe, we saw the Joker skin a man and then that naked, skinned man ran into the middle of a bar and fell down dead. That apparently wasn’t too far for comics but a shadowed profile of a Bat-Wang is shocking.
I think the main source of this controversy comes from people who would never read the comic, weighing in on an issue that doesn’t concern them. Most of the people that I know who read the comic weren’t at all offended by the panel in question. Readers have praised the comic’s unique art style and particularly bleak portrayal of the Dark Knight (the comic features a nearly dead Batman with memory loss who is having flashbacks to repressed memories where he might have been possessed by a demon as a child. He also may have murdered the Joker.)
If you aren’t going to buy “Batman Damned” anyway, you shouldn’t criticize Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s work.
Also, it’s just a penis. Grow up, ya prudes!