Like the hero it’s attached to, Batman’s penis has traditionally worked undercover. But that changed this week as DC Comics exposed Batman’s Batmember to the world for the first time ever — and then hastily decided to take it away.
In a panel from the new Batman: Damned No. 1, written by Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo, the superhero’s penis, seemingly tired from a night of trying to solve the Joker’s murder, is seen leaning to Batman’s hard right, resting behind a pair of turgid thighs and just below a chiseled waist. The shot is presented in shadow, but it’s nonetheless clear what we’re seeing: the first-ever exposure of Batman’s manhood.
(Move the slider on the image below to see the uncensored, NSFW version.)
The issue doubles as the first exposure of DC’s Black Label, a brand new imprint aimed at mature readers; Batman: Damned is the first published title of a planned slate that also includes new Superman and Wonder Woman stories and that DC promises will comprise “classy, collectible superhero stories aimed at mature readers looking to be challenged and surprised as they’re entertained.” (It should be noted that the characters appearing in Black Label books do not share continuity with DC’s main comic book universe.)
In that context, exposing Batman’s Dick Grayson to the world is a brilliant marketing move from DC. Superhero nudity — particularly of the male variety — almost never happens in mainstream comics. (One notable exception: the free-swinging Doctor Manhattan in Watchman.) So introducing Black Label with some never-before-seen Bruce Wayne was guaranteed to get people talking (and joking) about the book.
It’s been  day(s) since I’ve seen Batman’s junk.
— Heather “has no merit” Antos (@HeatherAntos) September 20, 2018
Batman’s obsession with expensive cars makes SO much more sense now that I’ve seen what he’s working with.
— Allie Goertz (@AllieGoertz) September 19, 2018
But shortly after sending comics fans into a tizzy of sophomoric jokes and puns (not unlike the ones in this article), DC Black Label made an even savvier move: According to Comic Book Resources, the panel in question has now been digitally censored because it was not “additive to the story”; additionally, “future printings of the issue will use the altered panels.”
DC’s dismissal of the image as “not additive” to the story feels a little disingenuous in the context of Black Label’s stated mission. It’s hard to imagine a scenario outside of a sex scene where nudity would be additive to a story — however, it would be additive to the “mature” reputation of an aimed specifically at adult readers. (After all, there’s plenty of bloody darkness and violence in DC’s existing comics.) It also brings to mind some of the egregiously risqué female costumes in mainstream comics that don’t seem “additive” to the story beyond providing titillating thrills.
Nonetheless, by censoring its own book, DC Black Label has essentially made the first printing of Batman: Damned No. 1 a limited edition, and perhaps a collector’s item — and ensured that people are going to pay attention to whatever the imprint does next to “challenge and surprise” readers.