Batman #686 hit stores today, and instantly caused many retailers to raise the alarm over the use of language in the issue.  While we’ve all be treated to the goddamn Batman in All-Star Batman and Robin, the Frank Miller tale didn’t carry the Comic Code Authority stamp on the cover.  Batman #686 does.

The revision to the CCA in 1989 specifically states

The language in a comic book will be appropriate for a mass audience that includes children. Good grammar and spelling will be encouraged. Publishers will exercise good taste and a responsible attitude as to the use of language in their comics. Obscene and profane words, symbols, and gestures are prohibited.


I contacted DC for a statement on this, and received the following reply:

Hi Stephen,
We’re declining this request.

Well, I did give them a chance to respond…

This is not the first time DC has sent this kind of answer to one of  my requests for clarification.

Do kids still buy comics?  Have children been so desensitized to this kind of language that it would slip by unnoticed?  Does the code even matter any more?  Should it?  From the consumer perspective, this may not be a big deal (it certainly isn’t to me), but retailers could get into trouble should an angry parent or conservative group raise a ruckus over a comic that has been approved for all ages.

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. Lifeisaglitch
    February 11, 2009 at 1:57 pm — Reply

    I don’t see any adults being offended by this and i certainly cant image any parent walking into a store and complaining about how her kid read the word goddamn (Isn’t that word like “shucks” at this point) in an otherwise family friendly and wholesome book about a mentally ill criminal threatening a man and using a gun.

    • February 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm — Reply

      I don’t think it is the language that is the problem, as I’ve pointed out, I love the goddamn batman (and now the goddamn riddler). However the CCA was set up to assure parents that the comics their kids were reading met a certain standard – very much like the movie rating system and the current television rating system. Viewers know that if they see a show marked TV-MA there may be sexual content, and language not appropriate for children. You would never expect a show like Pokemon, which has a TV-Y rating (6 and over) to suddenly spout foul language whenever Picachu gets his ass handed to him. If that did happen, you would see people coming out of the woodwork over this and trying to burn down television stations (in America at least). The CCA means to limit violence, sex, language in terms of making it more mainstream to all readers. So having goddamn thrown in there is breaking that trust with the consumer (not to mention the CCA).

      • February 11, 2009 at 2:08 pm — Reply

        And just to be clear lifesaglitch, I do agree with your statement.

  2. Hitman Sam
    February 11, 2009 at 2:09 pm — Reply

    And 15 years ago this would’ve been about the word “ass.” “Acceptible” words and grammer change. And while I’m not really a fan of the use of goddamn in mainstream comics, but… oh well. The times they are a changin’, goddamnit.

  3. February 11, 2009 at 2:40 pm — Reply

    You know what’s funny. My issue doesn’t have GODDAMN in it. but it does include the word BITCHES. lol, Way to go DC.

  4. ~wyntermute~
    February 11, 2009 at 3:02 pm — Reply

    All I can do when I see/read/hear stuff like this is think of George Carlin’s “7 dirty words” bit, and specifically the part about how “some words are okay sometimes”. That does _not_ mean I think this is inappropriate, but rather illustrates that my “sometimes” is not the same as your “sometimes”, and furthermore, it is just a goddamn word. Why are we so afraid of words?? After all, if God is damning me to Hell for my sins, it is okay. If I tell you to get your goddamn ass the hell outta my backyard, cuz I don’t want donkey crap on my lawn, it isn’t? Merde.

  5. Lifeisaglitch
    February 11, 2009 at 3:34 pm — Reply

    Is goddamn unappropriate for children or obscene?..I dont think i can answer that.

    I can tell you that Batmans complete rogues gallery doesnt live up too the code though.

    “References to physical handicaps, illnesses, ethnic backgrounds, sexual preferences, religious beliefs, and race, when presented in a derogatory manner for dramatic purposes, will be shown to be unacceptable.”

  6. Lifeisaglitch
    February 11, 2009 at 3:54 pm — Reply

    I should clarify its not that they are mentally ill but rather the way they are dealt with by the good guys beating the shit out of a psychopath for other reasons than neutralizing a threat serves no purpose…And it has never been shown as unacceptable unless…ya know its killing. Its ironic how violence in the DC universe seems to be more..well violent because the heroes have the no killing rule.

    POINT IS i think we all agree here on most things but i IMHO don’t find “goddamn” to be a break in the code, though i can find lot of other examples….

  7. Dan Hunter
    February 11, 2009 at 6:16 pm — Reply

    One could take the view of a one fictional character using another fictional character’s name in vain…..discuss.

  8. Lifeisaglitch
    February 11, 2009 at 6:42 pm — Reply

    If Matthews daughter can do it The Riddler can too! :)

  9. The Dude
    February 11, 2009 at 7:35 pm — Reply

    I think it’s funny that some parents will get up in arms over the word goddamn, but have no problem with the fact that the Riddler is brandishing a firearm in front of little children, and shooting a man in the head.

    But really, there aren’t many kids reading comics anymore, they might as well do away with the comics code completely.

  10. February 11, 2009 at 9:47 pm — Reply

    The Dude Sez: but have no problem with the fact that the Riddler is brandishing a firearm in front of little children, and shooting a man in the head

    And I Sez: interestingly the Comic Code Authority does not have a rule prohibiting the endangerment of minors, but the television cartoon code does prevent this from happening. Andy Kubert ends up breaking several codes in a single panel, and it’s somewhat brilliant in how he did it.

    If you get the chance check out the wonderful Batman: The Animated Series book that features a piece of artwork that shows how to break every cartoon code.

  11. Lifeisaglitch
    February 12, 2009 at 12:54 pm — Reply

    “If you get the chance check out the wonderful Batman: The Animated Series book that features a piece of artwork that shows how to break every cartoon code.”

    Stephen you are a well of geektastic information, i will have to find that!

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