Brainiac On Banjo #016: Is Batman Damned, Or Are We All?

Yup. This is another one of those pieces about how the controversy surrounding Batman Damned #1 is no big deal.

Except… According to everybody’s pal Rich Johnston, still columning for Bleeding Cool, there was a CGC-rated 10.0 copy of the first issue that sold for big bucks on eBay. So much money, in fact, that I figure Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark got into a bidding war.

Yes, dear friends, Batman Damned #1 CGC 10.0 sold to Florida’s Blaze PC Collectables for $1800.00.

Go back and read that again. It is not a typo, but it should be. There are a number of reasons why this is absolutely ridiculous. There’s a point where real-world values should exceed comic book values. Puerto Rico is still bleeding, undreamed of hurricanes are continuing to wreak damage and kill people, there are more worthy and needy causes than there are grains of sand in the Sahara, and we’ve got the biggest fight in American history coming up in a mere three weeks and if you’re interested in not seeing the United States of America turn into 1941 Belgium I’ll bet there’s a worthy candidate not far from you who can use a contribution.

Besides, I started buying comic books when they were a dime. I wince at today’s $4.00 cover price (admittedly, ten cents in 1960 would be worth… well, 84¢ today – and don’t get me started on explaining William M. Gaines’ hot dog index!). But $1800.00 is just a bit egregious. 

All for what? The beginning of a story that may or may not be any good – but probably will, given the talent involved. No, of course not. Is there an upside-down bi-plane on the cover (source: Jokes For The Aging Philatelists, Curtiss Publishing, 1919)? Hell, no. Were only one or two copies printed? No. Of course not.

As you probably know, it’s all because of the kerfuffle that burst when somebody figured out that everybody conspired to include a one-panel heavily shadowed shot of approximately 30% of Bruce Wayne’s dick. It was less salacious than Janet Jackson’s famous quarter-second nipple reveal at the Super Bowl. You know, the one that made the Religious Right act like she blinded millions of small children in a single flash. Crom only knows what this Batpenis thing has done to generations yet unborn!

This brings me to the big point, the crux of the proverbial biscuit: it is a slabbed comic book. You cannot open it without destroying its value. Seriously, ask Todd McFarland about the drawbacks to buying high-priced collectibles some time.

If you were to open it – and this is no slight on CGC, benefactor of countless comic book conventions – what would you find between the covers? The Batpenis, or a copy of Hot Stuff Sizzlers #54? Left unopened, it’s worth $1800.00. Open it, and you’ve got the melting scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

It’s like all those idiots who burned their Elvis Presley records because they were the work of the devil. It’s like all those idiots who burned their Beatles records because John Lennon was the spawn of the devil. It’s like all those idiots who burned their EC Comics because they were the work of William M. Gaines. Fine. Get all those copies of Batman Damned #1 graded and slabbed. You will have effectively removed the notorious Wayne Willie from the planet.

And speaking about slabbed… 10.0? Isn’t that supposed to be the perpetual motion machine of comic book collecting? If you exhaled a block away from a pre-slabbed copy, it would go down to a 9.9. If you actually touched it without sterilized lint-less white gloves, it would be a 9.7. How the hell did somebody get a 10.0?

And, more important, who the hell cares?

DC said they would never reprint Batman Damned #1. So if Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo were expecting lots of huge royalty checks, they might be a bit disappointed. However, their saying they won’t reprint Batman Damned #1 does not mean they won’t reprint the story, post-bris, in trade paperback and hardcover. The combined page length is perfect for bookstore distribution, so Brian and Lee might make their nut anyway. I hope so.

But, please, DC Comics… please spare us the Batman Damned action figures.