Black Label, the new mature readers imprint from DC Comics, is finally letting stories out into the world this week, and the label is already earning that mature designation with some full frontal nudity, courtesy of Batman.
Announced back in March, Black Label is designed as an imprint where top comics talent can take iconic DC characters to tell standalone, "edgy and provocative" stories with far fewer content restrictions than the main DC line. The imprint was originally set to kick off with Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.'s Superman: Year One, but since that book was delayed until later this year the honor of inaugural title goes to Batman: Damned, a new three-part supernatural horror story by the team of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo.
Damned is meant to be a sequel to Azzarello and Bermejo's acclaimed story Joker, picking up in the aftermath of Joker's death at a time when Batman isn't sure who did the deed, or if it might be him. It's taut, dark, and Bermejo's art is stunning, but what's caught the eyes of readers all over the internet so far isn't just the story, but one particular content choice.
At one point in the first issue of Damned, which hit stores Wednesday, Batman returns to the Batcave, strips off his Batsuit and walks around naked while the Batcomputer does a check on his vital signs. While that's happening, readers get a look at Bruce Wayne's bare butt, and also...well, Bruce's little Wayne.
Yes, Batman: Damned features Batman's penis. Let's try to be adults here.
The panels in question are heavily shaded, so there's not a lot of particularly graphic detail to be found, and DC even censored the digital version of the book to hide the Bat-anatomy under heavy black shadows, so you're only going to see this if you pick up a physical copy (or if you look around for some NSFW images of the panels). It's by no means vital to the story. It's just Bruce Wayne walking around the Batcave after he's taken his suit off, and since he's alone, there's really no reason for him not to be naked for at least a little while.
It's a very brief moment, but the nudity in Batman: Damned seems to be a pretty good signifier of what we can expect from Black Label in terms of how far creators are likely to go with content like this. It's not violent or even sexual, but showing Batman fully nude is a step a lot of readers probably never saw coming outside of fan art, and while we can certainly make plenty of jokes about it now, it's also evidence that Black Label creators are getting a lot of freedom.
Batman: Damned #2 is out November 21.