DC's Black Label line may not survive exposure of Batman's L'il Wayne

Over on Comics Beat, Heidi MacDonald is writing that the whole flap over Batman: Damned #1 and Batman's Batawang might have sabotaged the Black Label line: "Todger Turmoil: Batman’s Junk May Have Sunk Black Label Line"

Heidi MacDonald wrote:

While it’s still not clear how much of the furious Barcon gossip was fevered speculation and how much actual facts, it all points to the few shadowy panels of Batman naked in Batman Damned sending shockwaves throughout the WB/DC executive suites.

In particular, the Batjunk arrives just as WB’s new President of Global Brands and Experiences Pam Lifford was taking over the job running consumer products and DC and all things branding. It seems she was not happy with being greeted with this tempest on her first week, and DC publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio were strongly admonished (some say chewed out) that this was not the kind of thing that sells Batman lunchboxes for children.

Potential bodies to be thrown under the bus to atone for the mess include DiDio and Lee, Vertigo editor Mark Doyle, editorial consultant Will Dennis, and creators Azzarello and Lee Bermejo. A rich rogues gallery there.

Although these are all speculative, it does seem that the #1 perp on the list is the Black Label line itself. I was told that it’s basically dead in the water at this point. Batman Doomed #1 will not be reprinted, and the next issues may not be printed individually – instead the whole thing will be collected in an edited version, although this could still change.

Nothing like starting new job having to clean up an unnecessary, self-inflicted mess ... 

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On the Colbert show the two panels (front and rear) were shown with pixelation in one spot on each. The naked Bruce is apparently walking across a room, so they have no story value. This was an arrogant move that intelligent creators should have known would cause major blow-back. Fighting against censorship is usually a good thing but picking your battles carefully is also a good thing.

I hope they don't fire people over this.

I'm not so sure someone or someones doesn't deserve to be fired over this.

Like you say, fighting against censorship is usually a good thing, but the internal reaction at DC tells me that nobody at DC had that in mind before this project hit the store shelves.

Yes, intelligent creators should have known this would cause major blowback. I'm not going to offer an opinion on the intelligence of the people involved, but I sense that they didn't think they were picking a battle because there isn't a Comics Code any more. Boy, were they wrong.

It also seems that since WB's new president of Global Brands and Experiences was completely blindsided by this, the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing. Had she or her office been clued in good and early, this could have been handled differently. The product could have been packaged and/or marketed differently, and they could have been ready to proactively handle the blowback.  

I agree with Heidi MacDonald that the defensive way of handling the blowback is excessive: "Sinking Black Label and neutering Vertigo seems to me to be the worst possible reaction." As she continues:

Heidi MacDonald wrote:

The reality is that adult content and Batman toys have coexisted peacefully for more than 30 years.

And even in this world of instantaneous social media outrage, they can continue to co-exist peacefully. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are ideals that can exist on many levels at once. And both DC’s bottom line and the comics medium as an art form have been greatly benefitted from the pioneering work done at the Vertigo line.

I'm sorry, but anyone who picked up a copy of something called Batman: Damned and thinks it should be suitable for children is an idiot. Anyone who published a thing with that title and thought that it was "lunchbox material" is the same thing.

Brian Azzarello, Lee Bermejo, Dan Didio, and Jim Lee did absolutely nothing wrong. It didn't surprise anyone who was paying attention. If anyone was blindsided by this, it's their fault for not doing their responsibility being the prude in the first place.

I'm sorry, but this is not okay.

Somebody should have seen this coming before the book was published and prepared accordingly.

Mr. Baron Johnson is right! Better yet, if they had a problem with it, they should have spoken up then.

The Baron said:

Somebody should have seen this coming before the book was published and prepared accordingly.

The problem is, as dumb as it sound sto us, there will always be people who see "Batman" on something and think "Kid's stuff."

Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

I'm sorry, but anyone who picked up a copy of something called Batman: Damned and thinks it should be suitable for children is an idiot. Anyone who published a thing with that title and thought that it was "lunchbox material" is the same thing.

Brian Azzarello, Lee Bermejo, Dan Didio, and Jim Lee did absolutely nothing wrong. It didn't surprise anyone who was paying attention. If anyone was blindsided by this, it's their fault for not doing their responsibility being the prude in the first place.

I'm sorry, but this is not okay.

I can agree that Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo did nothing wrong. I can't let Dan Didio and Jim Lee off the hook that easily. Their positions call for them to take a wider view of what goes out under the DC banner than just, "wow, this is cool."

I think the retailers who fielded (or made) complaints were paying attention and were still surprised and blindsided, too. They and the readers didn't see these pages until the book was in stores, correct? 

I still think that a book called "Batman: Damned" should have been a pretty big waving flag that this might not be for children.

ClarkKent_DC said:

I think the retailers who fielded (or made) complaints were paying attention and were still surprised and blindsided, too. They and the readers didn't see these pages until the book was in stores, correct? 

Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

I still think that a book called "Batman: Damned" should have been a pretty big waving flag that this might not be for children.

Sure. But does that title, alone, tell anybody that image is inside? 

I would probably only expect that from a comic called Batman: The Penis.

ClarkKent_DC said:

Sure. But does that title, alone, tell anybody that image is inside? 

People would probably still think that the Penis was a new Bat-Villain.

Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

I would probably only expect that from a comic called Batman: The Penis.

ClarkKent_DC said:

Sure. But does that title, alone, tell anybody that image is inside? 

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