DC backtracks on Batman nudity, wishes offending images ‘never happened’

When DC Comics announced Black Label, their newest series, this
past March, it was marketed as a collection that would feature
“big name creators, big name superheroes and big helpings of
creative freedom,” according to Polygon.

But when its first issue, Batman: Damned #1, created
by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, was released, Black Label
was hit with a bit of controversy.

Why? Because the issue featured several panels in which Batman
serves full-frontal nudity, with the furor largely over a key
shot of genitalia.

The conversation around the new series became more about its
maturity level, rather than the new tone and style of work. So,
quickly backtracking, DC censored the nudity and removed the
offending image in all later digital and print editions of the
comic, pegging the illustration as “production errors.”

For the record, nudity is only featured in three
panels of the comic, at a moment when Batman/Bruce Wayne
heads back to the Batcave and takes off his Batsuit. What can
be seen is an artistic rendition, dimly lit and mostly
silhouetted. Although for DC, it seems like the issue became
more about whether the nudity added to the story.

Nevertheless, this week, at New York Comic Con, DC Comics
co-publisher Jim Lee said, “I think we made some choices after
it went out, and there were some production errors that led to
the book being published the way it was … that ended up being a
big story. But thankfully, people were very pleased with the
story and the content, the beautiful art, and the story that
Brian and Lee had come up with really resonated with readers.”

“It’s made us, certainly, look at what Black Label is and think
about whether these elements are additive to the story,” Lee
continued. “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.”

His co-publisher, Dan DiDio, agreed, going so far as to say,
“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. As a
matter of fact, we’re excited by all the books that we have
under Black Label. And it’s an important line for us, so much
so that we’re actually repositioning some of our older material
that has that same tonality and bringing it in and reprinting
it under the Black Label name.”

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