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Saturday, October 20, 2018 

If DC thought "Black Label" Batman was a mistake because of the mature content, why did they even greenlight it?

I'd wanted to try and write about DC's latest unnecessary controversy (via Screen Rant) sooner - one that I'm sure they could've avoided if they'd wanted to - wherein Bruce Wayne's private parts could be seen, even in ostensible silhouette; presumably their way of cashing in on Marvel's MAX line. A move which garnered so much negative attention, they now appear to regret ever having bothered:
A flurry of media attention over the depiction of Batman’s penis in an official DC Comic series has prompted the publisher to be more mindful with its new imprint going forward, according to DC Comics co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio.

DC announced Black Label in March of 2018, and defined the imprint with three factors: Big name creators, big name superheroes, and big helpings of creative freedom — including freedom from DC’s main continuity. But that message was confused when Batman: Damned #1 went to print with full-frontal nudity.

DC edited panels of a naked Batman in digital and further print editions of Damned, but conversation around the issue was irrevocably centered on the maturity of content in Black Label, rather than the work of the artists behind it or the potential offered by Black Label’s open space for creativity.
Frankly, I don't think they marketed this well in any event. It's the overall story merit that matters, not the implied shock value, which overshadows the line. On which note, I must shake my head again at how only now does this seem to matter, nearly 15 years after Identity Crisis was foisted upon market with its special focus in the 2nd issue on anal rape committed by Dr. Light against Sue Dibny. So Batman's nudity matters, but not the time they fetishized sexual assault in one of its crudest forms back in 2004? No surprise the otherwise dreadful Polygon doesn't seem to mention that disgusting example either, not even for the importance of historical research. If they're not willing to delve into earlier examples of DC aping Marvel in the worst ways possible, how do they expect to understand why they've reached where they're at now?

Also, why do big-name creators matter but not up-and-coming rookies who might be trying to make waves with stories based on merit, which Brian Azzarello, assigned to the Batbook, decidedly lacks? Additionally, why do big-name superheroes matter, but not small-name superheroes and co-stars like Atom, Booster Gold, the Outsiders, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and even Hawk and Dove? Then again, I hesitate to think what kind of paces they'd put even the minor stars through, given their track record of this century.

Furthermore, creative freedom only applies to a favored, limited group - the left-liberals whom they see as acceptable to their dismal agendas and entitlement complex. At this point, not only Chuck Dixon wouldn't get it, even Ethan Van Sciver likely wouldn't either, after he's become much more outspokenly conservative.
At New York Comic Con 2018, Polygon asked Lee and DiDio if that conversation was a hurdle for the imprint to get over now, or just an example of “all publicity is good publicity.” Lee acknowledged that Batman: Damned garnered a lot of attention for it’s “production errors,” but said that, ultimately, the book would bring readers back to read issues #2 and #3 on the strength of its overall content, not just a few panels.

“I think we made some choices after it went out,” he said, “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 [Azzarello] and Lee [Bermejo] had come up with really resonated with readers.”
Sure, I'll bet it did. Besides, they do go by the insulting concept of all publicity being goodness. Especially when the press sides with them and sugarcoats the offensive approach used in Identity Crisis, or even Flash: Rebirth in 2009.
But the reception to Batman: Damned #1 has prompted some rethinking at DC, even if it’s just a more cautious approach.

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

“It’s something we wished never happened,” DiDio chimed in, “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.”
Wow, what a muddled man indeed. Some of the arguments they make could apply just as easily to Identity Crisis, and even Nightwing 93, which was also criticized for sensationalizing female-vs-male rape, something that, if memory serves, even turned up in the 1994-2000 Starman series, which was way overrated, and seeing how it may be out of print in the past decade, confirms there are other people who concluded the same.

Some of the commenters said, for example:
It’s difficult to see this as anything other than a deliberate publicity stunt, I don’t buy the pearl-clutching act. It definitely worked though, I run a shop and we had people calling for Batawang all that weekend.
Not that it's likely to cross the million copy threshold at ease, though. Another said:
Absolutely a publicity stunt. So was the decision to censor it in future printings—they’re trying to manufacture a mythology and history for the imprint. Final step: apologize for a non-existent controversy, to get their advertising message in front of readers again. It’s kind of ridiculous how this article plays along—really, where was the controversy? People made jokes about it. No one was outraged. It would have died out. If they really just cared about the content, they would’ve said: "hey Batman’s naked, and this is what a naked man looks like. It’s not a big deal. We just felt that the uncanny amount of perfect black shadow that always obscures peoples’ junk in superhero books (see, Weapon X or any other time wolverine gets naked) was a little silly and prudish for this line, which is intended for mature readers"
Well that's an interesting point. Here, it's not like they belittled serious issues the way Identity Crisis did (yet), so you could very well argue the controversy was unnecessary, and should be reserved for where it really matters, like the notorious 2004 mini. Unfortunately, that's the problem with these insane excuses for news sites; they're unconcerned about the subjects where it really does matter, and can only think about where it doesn't. Or, they don't have what it takes to distinguish.

And let's remember that in 1987, Alan Moore's Watchmen mini featured Dr. Manhattan stark naked long before this non-troversy, which does indeed confirm what's been raised over Batman: Damned was just a lot of hot air. All by phony journalists with selective positions on what they think is problematic, but are more than throughly willing to sugarcoat when they think it suits their twisted agendas. So Polygon most certainly did waste a lot of kilobyte space over a book that, while it may be written by pretentious scribes, is still not worthy of the teapot tempest they raised over it.

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Identity Crisis, as awful a story as it was, did not necessarily contain a scene of anal rape. The rape scene showed Dr Light attacking his victim from behind her and her face down in pain, an ugly Image, but not necessarily the clinical label that you have attached to it.

Hey, when I was reading that issue and saw that image, I thought "WTF Dr. Light is anal-raping a woman!?!"

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