DC has certainly gotten the internet all a-buzz with the first issue launching its new “Black Label” imprint. In Batman: Damned the Caped Crusader staggers back from a fight he can’t remember – a fight in which he allegedly killed the Joker. As the story introduces the reader to this new mystery, it answers a few mysteries that the reader did not know they needed answered, such as does “what kind of underwear does Bats wear?” While Rule 34 means that numerous fans have had a chance to depict Selina Kyle’s favorite cat toy, thanks to artist Lee Bermejo’s work, we now have canonical imagery.
In this tale, penned by Brian Azzarello, Batman wakes in an ambulance just before a paramedic removes his mask. He bolts and is soon discovered bleeding out in an alley by none other than John Constantine. Upon making it back to the Batcave, Bruce disrobes as he walks to the Batcomputer to get scanned for injuries resulting from a fight he cannot recall. As he does so, he leaves his costume on the floor for Alfred to pick up and the audience a pretty clear – although tastefully rendered – image on two panels of “how’s it hanging” (down and to the right, if you must know).
As to be expected, Bats has a lot of scars, but not on his gluteus maximus. And, even though we now know that he goes commando, one is left wondering how he protects himself from low blows (they ARE villains, after all).
This story is billed as a “spiritual sequel” to Azzarello’s 2008 Joker in which he also collaborated with Bermejo. The writer is also known for his animated cinematic adaptation of The Killing Joke as well as turns at Wonder Woman and Hellblazer that many consider either “groundbreaking” or “heretical” depending on their viewpoint. Numerous other DC characters make cameos in this issue – including in a seemingly random collection of events narrated by John Constantine. Deadman and the cinematic version of Enchantress plus a call out to Zatanna among them. And, given that Constantine plays an active role in uncovering the mystery, the supernatural – and supernatural horror – are part and parcel of the story. Batman: Damned will be published in the prestige format.
As mentioned earlier, this is the first issue of the first title of DC’s Black Label and DC clearly hopes that this tentpole (sorry) issue builds interest in subsequent titles from Black Label. This imprint is targeted at adult readers and will consist of both original limited series and reprints of stories that have been previously published under other imprints. Like Batman: Damned, the majority fall outside the main DC continuity. Given that, Batman purists may console themselves with the thought that it’s not that Batman who is being shown sans pantalon.
And, it should be noted that DC is playing a bit of hide-and-seek with this. Batman’s genitalia are blurred in the digital edition of the comic. And, it has already been announced that the second printing will also be censored, making this first print run extremely attractive to collectors and speculators with it already being sold for $50 – far above its $6.99 cover price.
Batman: Damned will be published every other month for three issues starting with the first issue that dropped on September 19. Other titles will be published monthly with publication dates not yet announced.
The NSFW images can be seen here. Check to make sure your co-worker hasn’t just prairie-dogged to chat about football before you click, because some things cannot be unseen, m’kay?