Sexy Batman Part II: Detective Comics

Sexy Batman Part II: A Retrospective on Depictions of Sex on the Covers of Detective Comics (Full Title)

The question has arisen recently over whither or not women are overly sexualized in comics, and in an effort to amass data to lend some insight into the matter, I decided I would do a series of blogs in which I analyze the last 25 years of comic book covers from a dozen of the most popular comics in the industry.

The way I approached this was by a point system. Whenever I would see an instance of one of the following elements within a comic book cover, I would mark a point under either male or female and then tally up the points. I would only mark points for major characters and I would not mark them if they appeared in the ledgers.

If the points fell in the range of 0-6, it was “Non-Sexual”. If it fell within the range of 7-13, it was “Sexual”. And if it fell within 14+ it was “Hyper-Sexual”.

The elements being tallied were as follows:

  • Skin-Tight Costume (Uncovered)

  • Exposed Shoulders/Neck/Arms

  • Exposed Cleavage/Chest/Back

  • Exposed Legs

  • Exposed Midriff

  • Leather Clothing/Corset/High-Heels/Collars/Fishnets

  • Underwear/Thong/Bra/Panties/Trunks/Bikini/Lingerie

  • Overly Muscular/Overly Curvy (Beyond normal human anatomy)

  • Styled Hair/Make-Up

  • Emphasized Buttocks/Thighs

  • Emphasized Crotch/Breasts

  • Arched Back/Tilted Hip

  • Lying Down/Sitting/Straddling/Stretching-Out

  • Seductive Eyes

  • Pouty/Parted Lips (Not smiling, Grinning, Yelling, etc.)

  • Touching Lips/Body Seductively

  • Touching Other Seductively

  • Cute Surprised Look/Orgasmic Look

  • Washing Self/Wet/Sweaty

  • Sexual Weaponry/Whips/Giant Guns/BDSM Gear

  • Domination Themes/Strangulation/Bondage/Wrestling/Fetishism

Needless to say, when applied literally, these qualifications yielded unusual and startling results.

Quick Notes:

You can't judge a book by it's cover. Although a cover may only show Batman, for example, the pages within could show a dozen more sexualized representations of women than of men or vice versa. However, due to time and financial restraints, I decided just to focus on the covers.

I would also just like to say that sexiness isn't intrinsically a bad thing. It's only an issue when it's exploitative or teaches harmful ideas to impressionable readers. And that is why I feel it's important to write on it at such length.

Also I try to impart a little humor into the captions. They are meant to be taken lightly, so I ask you to try not to take offense.

And every picture used below, unless specified otherwise, was an example of either a Sexual or Hyper-Sexual comic cover.

The Results

1987-1988

During this period, most of the art referenced the campy 1960s series and, although Catwoman's costume was clearly intended to have some sex appeal, it was generally very tame and quite sweet by today's standards. Most other instances of sexiness were unintentional and were typically of slightly sexy poses from Batman and Robin that at the time wouldn't have carried those connotations (and barely do now).

1989-1990

This period marked a very sudden and drastic change in tone from the previous few years. I'm rather hesitant to call any of these covers sexy because, in my view, only somebody with an incredibly sick imagination would think these covers to be remotely sexy. This era has what were probably some of the most bizarre and grotesque comic covers in the last 25 years of Detective Comics.

1991

This year didn't have any instances in which a comic cover was labeled as Sexy. It's “sexiest” cover was issue 638, which was only because of Batman's skin-tight costume, rather prominent package, and arching back.

1992-1994

The later part of the 1992 brought with it two covers featuring The Huntress in an earlier, far more revealing outfit (that seemingly had an invisible force field that allowed her to withstand the force of bullets and leap through windows unscathed).

Perhaps driven to emulate the BDSM themes within Batman Returns, artist Kelley Jones rose to prominence on both Batman and Detective Comics during this period and with it brought his similarly BDSM-inspired style that emphasized exaggerations of human anatomy, (mostly homoerotic) dominance themes, strangulation, and tight leather costumes. Not just one but several covers featured a male figure straddling atop another male, seemingly all done in a series:

1995-97

This period had very few instances of sexual covers, but it also had two out of the three Hyper-Sexual covers in the last 25 years of DC Comics, both of which featured women:

1998

Like 1991, this year didn't have any sexual covers.

1999-2002

This period had very few sexual covers, and the ones that were labeled Sexual had a very subtle and hardly noticeable sexual elements to them. I think this can largely be attributed to the influence that Greg Rucka had on Batman during the majority of that time.

In fact, most of the covers that did feature women in a sexual manner were done quite tastefully and were rarely, truly exploitative (Issue 743 is an excellent example of that, in my opinion).

2003-2011

Just as in the period before, this span of 8 years rarely featured Sexual covers, with only two Sexual covers (Issues 780 and 794) and one Hyper-Sexual cover (Issue 823).

And one can not stress enough how incredible a feat that is, especially when one considers how frequently women were depicted in Detective Comics during this time, especially Batwoman and Renee Montoya.

Conclusion:

I feel as though little can be added to this analysis that wasn't already said in Sexy Batman: Part 1. Early instances of sexual covers in Detective Comics were largely unintentional and quite grotesque in nature and over time the focus moved from an emphasis on male sexuality to female sexuality. But, it's important to note that more often than female sexuality, Detective Comics featured a lot of covers that emphasized female strength and female diversity.

Full List of Comics Labeled Hyper-Sexual:

Issue 683

Issue 706

Issue 823

Full List of Comics Labeled Sexual:

Issue 570

Issue 573

Issue 574

Issue 580

Issue 598

Issue 599

Issue 602

Issue 606

Issue 612

Issue 624

Issue 648

Issue 649

Issue 650

Issue 652

Issue 653

Issue 659

Issue 660

Issue 664

Issue 665

Issue 673

Issue 674

Issue 681

Issue 685

Issue 728

Issue 736

Issue 737

Issue 743

Issue 758

Issue 762

Issue 767

Issue 780

Issue 794

8 Comments
8 Comments
Posted by Duchess

I like sexy Batman.

Posted by Croaker

I'm bringing sexy Bat.

Posted by entropy_aegis

@Duchess said:

I like sexy Batman.

Don't we all.

Posted by victoriancuckoo
@Croaker lol
Posted by Hawkeye446

AWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!

COSMO!!!

This was great!!!!

I evened preferred it more than Sexy Batman I, sorry I missed this until now though -_-

And I loved that caption with Huntress :D

Great work, will we see a part III?

Posted by cosmo111687

@Hawkeye446: I'm not sure if we'll see part three. This is hugely time consuming and really psychologically exhausting for me to do. But, who knows. I might follow it up someday. :)

Posted by Hawkeye446

@cosmo111687 said:

@Hawkeye446: I'm not sure if we'll see part three. This is hugely time consuming and really psychologically exhausting for me to do. But, who knows. I might follow it up someday. :)

:)

I can imagine!!!

Well, regardless fantastic work !!! ^-^

Posted by Queso6p4

Very interesting and informative breakdown.