Let’s Talk About Sex DC

Add 10 points to your CBD Scorecard if you know where inspiration for the title came from.

I was at the comic book shop last week and a couple of friends handed me a comic and said “you have to pick this one up”.  The comic they handed me was Catwoman #1.  It wasn’t on my pull list (since Wonder Woman and Batwoman are the only new DC #1’s I’m buying right now) but after flipping through it, I had to buy it.

The book reads like a normal Catwoman story.  Catwoman steals stuff.  She makes enemies with the wrong people.  Those people come after Catwoman.  Catwoman’s fence tells her about a place where she can lie low.  She hangs out in a vacant penthouse when Batman shows up.  One thing leads to another and they practice making “Bat-Babies”.  Well I guess the beginning is like a normal Catwoman story, the ending was the real curve ball.

The comic was a good read and the relationship between Batman and Catwoman is different.  It has always been implied (and proven in other stories) that Batman and Catwoman are in some sort of relationship.  This issue showed that Batman and Catwoman are each “hook-ups” or “Bat-Bootie-Calls”.  They are there for each other when they have urges.

While I really enjoyed the comic, I was also shocked by it too.  First off I’ll tell you, that I am Ok with sex in comics.  I don’t have an issue with it.  There are several books that sex is important to the plot (ie: Watchmen – Silk Spectre and Night Owl).  It is just a fact of life that Super Heroines (and Heroes too) are sexy.  They are drawn that way.  The costume has a lot to do with it, but the nature of the character, the mystery of the secret identity is a factor as well.

What I was shocked by was the final panel in the comic.  Catwoman is on top of Batman.  Most of the costumes are off, and the image is very sexual.  I am shocked because it is a “TEEN” rated comic.  Just by that final page alone, it should have been rated a “MATURE” comic.  That is why I am shocked.  As you can see from the attached picture that there is nothing visible, but it is the climax of the scene and all the intentions are present in that picture.  That is why I feel the comic should have been rated mature.

I let my son (who is 8 right now) read teen rated comics.  Teen rated comics have violence, death and blood in them.  Violence and death is easy to explain to kids.  My kids know that comics are not real, and we can’t do what is done in comics.  We can’t fly.  We can’t deflect bullets.  We can’t kill people.  But Catwoman getting half-naked with Batman, that isn’t something I want my 8-year-old to see.  I wouldn’t want him to see it when he’s 13 (I am realistic and know that I can’t prevent it at that age).  There should have been a warning on the comic that there was sexual content in the book.  I commend the staff at the comic book shop for knowing about the sexual content, and I know they’ll refuse to sell that book to a minor.

Catwoman #1 wasn’t the only book to come out last week to feature sex.  Red Hood and the Outlaws also featured a character openly asking another about sex, and the next panel showed them in bed “post-coitus”.

Why has DC gone this direction?  Why is the sexual content increased in a couple of the new books?

One reason I think is to increase sales.  Sex sells.  Always has.  Always will.  There will be customers who grab these books just because of the increased sexuality.  It’s why I bought it (which then turned into this column).

Another reason is realism.  This direction makes the stories realistic.  Sex is a fact of life.  We all have sexual thoughts, feelings and desires.  Superheroes wouldn’t be any different.  A person getting flashed by gamma rays, then getting super human abilities, is unrealistic.  But two people who feel like “getting it on” is realistic.  It is a situation that we can relate to.  It grounds those characters in reality and forges a connection between the character and the reader.  It will lead to interesting stories in the future.  Particularly between Batman and Catwoman, when they wind up on opposite ends of the law from each other.

The relaunch is another reason for this change as well.  Since we are essentially dealing with a new universe, the rules have changed.  The characters have changed.  They don’t act and react the same anymore.  The situations have changed.  We are not dealing with our good ol’ DC anymore.

My complaint about this is there should be an appropriate rating on the cover of the book.  I would’ve felt more comfortable if the book was rated for mature readers.  Instead I am worried the book will wind up in the hands of a children, and they shouldn’t be exposed to sexuality this soon.  I hope parents out there will check out the comics before they let their children read them; I know I do.

Ed Campbell Written by:

Ed Campbell is a collector of comics and action figures, primarily G.I. Joe. He is also a Cosplayer with Thor and Captain America as just a few of the characters in his arsenal. When not fulfilling his Comic Book Daily duties, he's "working for a living", volunteering his time for his local Fall Fair, and spending as much time with his family as possible. Use the links below to get in contact with him.

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9 Comments

  1. September 30, 2011

    I knew that this was going to be an interesting topic and I am glad that one of us who is a parent tackled it first.

    I have to disagree with you on the appropriate rating. From what I can see the rating was appropriate. It should be noted that Catwoman is a T+ comic, which means DC states that it is for readers age 16 and up. And while that age is still a minor, I would surmise that a good percentage of parents would not balk at letting a 16 year old read this book. But that is really up to each individual parent. So DC has essentially said to parents and other prospective customers, as a guideline, that there are themes in this story which would only be appropriate for someone age 16 and up.

    I think that your argument for violence ok sex not is an interesting one. I expect that many will jump all over that point but I fell that as a parent you have explained why your position is such.

    The real issue for me isn’t that the ratings system was wrong or that the comic book has some sex in it; the real problem is that these characters exist in a shared universe. The same Batman on animated kids shows is caught with his utility belt down around his ankles. You can talk all you want about how the character is different, but that is really semantics. It is very hard, and must be increasingly so, for parents to explain that one type of Batman is okay to watch or read but another is not.

    Disney does have both G rated and R rated Mickey Mouse cartoons. The character solely exists in a G rated universe.

    The real answer might lie in created new properties. Stories that have new characters that exist only in a more mature universe. That one of the reasons why many of the Vertigo titles have found success. They are able to state from the get go that their story is an adult one.

    You key point which cannot be stressed enough is that parents should know what their children are reading. I encourage parents to check out the books they are purchasing an ask your local comic shop if you have any questions about content.

  2. Ed Campbell
    September 30, 2011

    Anthony you were able to point out another problem with this situation. T+ is a riduculous rating. As you can see when I wrote the article I didn’t even notice that tiny little + sign. If it said mature, it would stand out and people would take notice.

    The point that you mentioned that people would take notice of my comment on violence, I consider violence in “some” comic books to be nothing more than “cartoon” violence. Seeing Captain America punch Red Skull is the equivalent of seeing Yosemite Sam getting shot in the face with a gun. It is violent, but it is a fantasy character involved.

    By the same accord, I wouldn’t let my kids read the Watchmen and see Rorschach throw boiling oil into someones face. Yes it is still a comic book. It is still fantasy. But the tone of the comic was set in a realistic universe. The violence is more graphic.

    On Wednesday night I was at the Blue Beetle. Some teenagers came in to buy their #1’s. They wanted to buy Catwoman #1. Alice Ann spoke to their mother about the content in the comic and explained some of the situations. I was very happy when I saw this (since my column was already written at that point), and proved that kids will buy the book and the parents need to know the content.

  3. Laura
    September 30, 2011

    ” Teen rated comics have violence, death and blood in them. Violence and death is easy to explain to kids.”

    This here is the problem. Sex SHOULD be something that is easy to talk about. Parents need to have that conversation as it’s proven to prevent both unwanted pregnancy and STI’s. Not talking about it is the problem.

    Violence is proven to be more damaging to a child than sex, but we’re A-OK with it (CODblops anyone?) but OMG SEX IS BAD NEWS BEARS!!!! It’s such a weird issue to me.

    And then I remember what I was reading as a teen and scoff. It was way worse than this one Catwoman page. What 13 year old girl hasn’t read a VC Andrews book?

    Anyway, I have no problem with this book and the controversy is obviously planned by DC. Catwoman and Red Hood sold out in a day, and the second printings will as well, and people will be back for issue two. Mission accomplished, DC.

  4. Ed Campbell
    September 30, 2011

    For my situation violence and death are very easy topics to talk to my children about (they are 8, 5, and 3). Violence is easy, don’t hit anybody, don’t show aggression towards other people, somebody hits you tell a parent/teacher/supervisor. Death was hard at first, but after we lost one pet in a house fire (when the kids were 4 and 2), and the sudden passing of my brother-in-law (kids were 5, 3, 18mos) they understand death. They know that death is a serious thing. And they understand that when someone dies in a cartoon or comic book… that person never existed to begin with.

    So for my situation right now, I am not ready to talk to my kids about sex. They are too young. If my kids were 10 to 13 it would be a totally different situation. I would still talk to them about sex, but I wouldn’t feel comforatble about them reading these new DC issues.

    I know it was different for me when I was teenager. This book would’ve been no big deal at that time. But my perspective as a parent is skewed. I would like to keep this away from my kids, for at least a couple more years, when they are older. Right now I just want them to be kids.

  5. Laura
    September 30, 2011

    I agree completely. Parents should know what their kids are reading and watching. It’s up to the parent, not the publisher.

  6. Laura
    September 30, 2011

    The comics are rating teen. Your kids aren’t teens anyway so theoretically based on the rating system they shouldn’t reading these comics for a few years anyway. And when they do hit 12 and 13 they should have had a lengthy sex talk. I ‘knew’ all about sex way before that from my friends anyway. And by ‘knew’ it was misinformation that 11 year old girls swap and think it’s true. So you should be talking to them before then so they don’t learn things that are wrong.

    But my main point is – the book was MEANT to cause controversy. They want people to hear about it and then seek it out. All publicity is good publicity.

  7. September 30, 2011

    The publisher has a responsibility to inform the parent though. Which in this case they have. However, as I mention this situation raises the question of “should there be sexy Batman stories”? Just because a publisher can put out a book doesn’t mean they should.

  8. Laura
    September 30, 2011

    Maybe if there had never been anything between Batman and Catwoman before I could say ‘yeah unexpected!’ and that Batman shouldn’t be shown in that light.

    But Batman IS a darker character. I’ve recently been watching the 90’s animated show and it’s pretty dark.

  9. October 1, 2011

    Oddly enough, a had a big conversation about violence in movies/tv/comics with a co-worker today.

    I think Ed has very valid point as does everyone else here but what I really think it comes down to is parenting and there should be a good level of communication and understanding between both the kids and the parents on the material they read. It’s going to be different for every set of parents. What Ed thinks is alright for his kids to read will not be a good idea for another kid’s parents.

    Not only that, your views on all of this might even differ when you have kids. For instance, I grew up on the violence filled action flicks of the 80’s. Current Me thinks that those are a lot better then the action films then today’s films because while the violence was overblown, at least when people got shot, the bled which meant violence had consequences.

    Now in a few years from now, ask Parent Me the same question, you might get a very different answer.

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