One of the perks of comics journalism is that we often get to see things early, so that we know enough to write about them accurately. That’s not really a surprise in itself, but it does lead to the occasional perk–such as when we discovered that DC Comics, through, Batman: Damned #1, the first book released under the new Black Label imprint for mature audiences, would finally reveal Bruce Wayne’s, er, Batpole. His Rod of Justice. The Dark Knight’s Lance.
You know, his dick.
Try as we might to change the topic this week, the bat-a-wang dominated the WWAC behind-the-scenes conversations. We have some opinions, dear readers. We have some opinions.
What was your reaction to hearing about the fact that Batman’s dong was going to appear in the comics?
Wendy Browne: I am a mature, respectable comics journalist. The closest we’ve come to Batman’s penis in his 78-year career has been Ben Affleck’s dick twitch. Of course I wanted to see it. For science.
Laura Stump: As a slightly less mature and respectable comics reviewer who grew up on The Animated Series and had more than a little crush on the Dark Knight back in the day, I was very much on board with seeing some Batpeen. Besides, I figured turnabout was fair play for DC planning to give us Harley in all her glory.
Alenka Figa: I am total crap at keeping up with mainstream comics news so I didn’t realize it was going to happen until twitter was all aflutter about Batpeen. When I first realized Batman’s penis was not a meme or a joke but, in fact, an illustrated set of genitals in an official comic, all I could muster was, “…why?” and then immediately began to image this being some kind of almost pornographic male fantasy thing they were doing to reveal just how Tough and Hot Bruce truly is. My expectations were very low.
Louis Skye: I was ‘warned’ about it by a friend of a friend. But, honestly, I did not expect the Batpole to actually appear. Like, how many times has the media been all excited about male nudity only for it to get drowned out by all the female T&A on view? I mean, we’ve heard all about Harley’s birthday suit that’s set to appear in DC’s Black Label, so this was… a surprise.
Paige Allen: I learned about the surprise Batdick thanks to Twitter, where other comic journalists were shitting on it pretty relentlessly. So while the TL reception somewhat deflated my excitement, overall the announcement did not wane my appreciation for its inclusion. For one thing, comics is still dominated by far too many poorly rendered, ill-proportioned female tits-and-ass shots drawn by creepy men for even my queer ass to enjoy. For another, Batman is one of my favorite characters of all time. There was no way in hell I’d pass up the chance to see some canon dick.
Kate Kosturski: Like Alenka and Paige, I had no clue we were going to have full frontal in the comic and only found out about it when preview copies dropped and social media was abuzz. Since this is DC’s more adult label, I wasn’t surprised, to say the least.
Corinne McCreery: As the DC beat writer for the site, I was the first to see the Batpole and I quickly spread the joy. I am like a street preacher in that way. LET ME SHOW YOU!
Jazmine Joyner: I was late to the Batpeen party, I only found out a couple of days ago when Twitter was abuzz with excitement/disdain over the peen. So you know I had to see what the bat was packing.
Jameson Hampton: “Finally, the executives at DC received my numerous letters!”
Brenda Noiseux: I’m a little ashamed to admit that this roundtable was the first I’d heard of it. Bruce Wayne’s love knob would not be something I’d seek out, but since it was right here…
Mel Perez: I first heard about the reveal on twitter. Male full frontal being something of a unicorn in non-pornagraphic media, I was immediately intriguied. Plus it was Batman, of course I want to see everything he’s hiding under that suit.
Nola Pfau: FINALLY.
What was your reaction to seeing the actual thing?
Wendy: Disappointment. I didn’t expect it to be a hypersexualized appearance, so I honestly wasn’t here for the titillation. But I didn’t expect the overall image of Bruce slouched naked in the darkness to be so… so… sad. But, given the context of that particular image (outside of whatever the context of the actual story might be), Bruce’s sad, solicited dick pic explains Ben Affleck’s mood here, and speaks to the sad, lonely life Bruce leads when he takes off the cape and cowl and is laid bare, with no one but himself — and us readers — to judge.
Laura: My first viewing left me feeling a bit flaccid. Dicksappointed, if you will. Jokes aside, choosing this as the way to expose the depth’s of Bruce’s… soul struck me as depressing, if apropos for the darker turns the Caped Crusader’s life has taken over the years. After giving the picture more thought, I realized the thing irked me. DC went to all this trouble to set up a storyline that gave us Bruce in all his glory, creating an imprint specifically for adult content, and then they opted for this. Not all of Batman’s life is sad, yet here we are, deeply depressed by the realization this part is.
Louis: Disappointed, or rather, as Laura has so eloquently said, dicksappointed. Also annoyed. Batman is in shadow so that just seemed… cowardly to me. If you’re going to have adult content, be upfront about it. I was hoping for a happy scene where Bruce is lying about, or walking into a lovely hot shower. I think because I was ‘warned’ that there would be full-frontal nudity, I just assumed that it would be bold, and bright, and obvious (I’m talking about the art here; mind out of the gutter!). But, what we got was this sad sack in the shadows. I am so done with brooding, depressed Batman. Add some colour to his life.
Like, why couldn’t the dick be more casual? Why not some dick in the shower? Dick going off to bed? Dick just chilling at the Batcomputer reviewing case files? Ya know, anything that shows that the dick exists outside of narratives ruminating on how sad and damaged Bruce Wayne is?
Paige: When I die I want all of DC’s current executive team to lower me into my grave, so they can let me down one last time. I bought the digital version of Batman: Damned so I could enjoy some canon dick on my commute to work — and all the digital copies have multiple shots of Batman’s Lil Wayne blacked out and covered in shadow. I get it might have been mandated by DC’s digital comic distributors, but like Laura said this is supposed to be DC’s mature imprint. Commit to that messaging! Plus, like everyone else mentioned, Batdick was the saddest dick I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Like, why couldn’t the dick be more casual? Why not some dick in the shower? Dick going off to bed? Dick just chilling at the Batcomputer reviewing case files? Ya know, anything that shows that the dick exists outside of narratives ruminating on how sad and damaged Bruce Wayne is?
Kate: Deflation to say the least. For all his moodiness, the image of Batman still conveys a sense of strength and power…and that was the saddest dick I have ever seen. Whatever message DC was trying to send about the darkness in Bruce’s life, using that body part just didn’t work.
That aside, it’s refreshing to also see full frontal male nudity for a change. Why should the women be the only objects of nude titillation? (When Starz’ Outlander did full frontal male a season ago, I was happy for the same reason — and while it was Sad Tobias Menzies, at least his dick looked much better.)
Jazmine: I wasn’t impressed. I was expecting some racy story being that it is DC’s Black Label, but instead, I saw a sad naked man in a sad chair. Even the Batpeen has to have a depressing backstory. As Paige said, I would have also enjoyed some nice happy casual dick, instead of the conventional dark and broody peen we get in Dammed.
Brenda: Without all the fuss, I honestly would have passed this over while reading. Given all that texture shading (his muscles, his pants, the background) that smooth penis doesn’t stand a chance. Which is sad. So very very sad. I miss the days of playboy Bruce Wayne. Such a missed opportunity for an indulgent bi-friendly Batparty with him just frowning at everyone instead.
Mel: My first thought was ‘that’s it?’ I was also feeling a little dicksappointed too. You can barely see anything in the shadows. If you’re going to show some peen, commit to it! I’m not saying I need a spotlight pointed directly at it but give me something more than a heavily shadowed half reveal. It seems like DC wanted to be edgy without making one small but vocal part of the fandom uncomfortable.
Nola: It’s fine, I guess. After decades of women in titillating clothing and poses, it’s kind of a let down that we have such a…timid showing? It’s badly lit, in silhouette, and even that was too much for DC, given their reaction since. It feels so furtive on their part, which isn’t what a thing like this needs, especially given the way they’ve marketed the Black Label so far. If you’re gonna do it, do it, you know?
Corinne: Let down. Mostly by the whole comic. I didn’t like the writing. I hated the lettering. But most of all, my reaction was sadness. It drove home the idea for me that Bruce is just a sad little boy playing at being a man.
Jameson: I’ve gotta go against the crowd on this one. I’ve seen a lot of bad dick pics in my life and I thought this was pretty good. It’s pretty tasteful. Got some good mood lighting going on. The feelings I’d say it’s trying to evoke in me are: melancholy, wistfulness. If Bruce Wayne sent me these pics on Grindr, I would not block him.
Any final thoughts for DC?
Wendy: It goes to show that comics understand the difference between contextual nudity and gratuitous sexual objectification, but only when it comes to male bodies. Removing the already heavily shadowed appendage from the digital and future print versions strikes as pandering to a very particular audience that is fine with picking up the new Black Label books to see their Harley fantasies made manifest, but would be uncomfortable dealing with a casual display of bat cock.
Laura: Put the Batcock back in the digital and future print versions, you cowards! Also, if you’re going to insist on titillating a portion of your audience by parading your female characters around naked as a jaybird, then don’t chicken out and “No homo!” the Batcock.
Louis: Dear DC, the partial inclusion of Bat-Lance won’t distract readers from your comic’s weird lettering. And, why did you censor the digital version? Are you going to censor it when you get Harley naked? I’m betting not. Just be brave about your choices with male characters, DC. Give the audiences the Bat-Rod they haven’t asked for. Oh, and keep Joker away from Harley. It’s 2018; we’re past abusive relationships.
Paige: I’m gonna be charitable and give DC four definitive steps to fix this most egregious mistake: 1) Put the dick back into the digital version. 2) Make sure other male characters are nude in the Black Label books. 3) For all that is good and holy, do not show us Joker’s dick. OK? OK. 4) Court the monsterfuckers and/or furries that make up at least half of all comic readers. Marvel has been doing a fabulous job making its symbiotes as sexy as possible in the Venom books. So, like, give us Swamp Thing’s dick or something. What have you got to lose?
Get Lil Wayne back in the digital copies, Comixology. Or at least offer the uncensored version as a separate option. Continue to embrace male nudity but don’t use it as a metaphor for darkness and sadness.
Kate: Get Lil Wayne back in the digital copies, Comixology. Or at least offer the uncensored version as a separate option. Continue to embrace male nudity but don’t use it as a metaphor for darkness and sadness. Celebrate the naked male body. And no more Harley with the Joker, please. There’s little girls who love their Harley cosplay and they do not need that kind of relationship in their mirror.
Jazmine: DC needs to stop being cowards and release the Batdick back onto the digital version. If you are gonna have a Black Label with adult content I suggest you stick to that and not censor a sad peen to pander to one specific audience that feels some type of way about it.
Brenda: DC, please don’t let this be the token dick.
Mel: I agree with everyone that the digital version shouldn’t be censored. It’s not going to hurt anyone to see a penis especially this sad example. I hoping for more commitment to adult content in the future. I wouldn’t mind seeing a full Nightwing body shot sans costume.
Nola: I guess DC stands for Dong Cowards now.
Corinne: LET BATMAN HANG DONG YOU FUCKING COWARDS.
Jameson: I’ve gotta agree with Paige on every count. DC, I heard y’all wanted to make Teen Titans all dark and gritty now? Appeal to the furries and give Beast Boy a knot, don’t @ me.