‘Batman and Robin’ drops F-bomb, Frank Miller calls it ‘terrible and glorious’

Sept. 11, 2008 | 9:56 p.m.

Allstar10_2DC Comics has pulled back tens of thousands of copies of "All-Star Batman and Robin" No. 10 due to a printing error that put two R-rated words into word balloons in the story. Which words? Well, one begins with "F" and the other begins with "C" — and, yes, it’s that C word.

The issue was written by Frank Miller who didn’t even know about the dustup until we called him. "This is the first I’ve heard of it. I have no idea how this awful thing happened. It’s just one of those terrible and glorious things that happen time to time in publishing."

Miller, of course, prides himself on being provocative (he is the man that brought the world "Sin City" and "300"), so he let out a cynical chuckle as he mulled over the fact that he has the first true R-rated "Batman" comic book in the 69-year publishing history of the iconic DC character.

That doesn’t mean he wanted it to happen. "I didn’t, of course, it’s a mistake. And my first reaction is simple: I want at least three copies."

Get in line, Frank. The issue was already heating up on EBay on Thursday afternoon.

When I got him on the phone, Miller was headed to Los Angeles International Airport (a busy place today) to catch a flight to Germany to promote his upcoming film "The Spirit." He was just about the only person in comics fandom that hadn’t heard about the instantly collectible issues with the potty mouth. How exactly did this publishing mistake happen? It was actually all too easy.

Allstar15For the uninitiated, despite the quaint title, "All-Star" is geared toward an older audience and presents an especially nasty and grim incarnation of Batman. This is not a children’s book.

"That’s right," Miller said, "it’s not aimed at kids, but this is a confusing time right now and nuances are missed. The rules are changing all the time, especially in comics and people are trying to sort it out. But this was absolutely not intentional."

The series follows Batman in his earliest days with Robin the Boy Wonder and details the young orphan’s induction into the world of crime-fighting. It’s a harrowing process, more like a POW’s ordeal than a training regime. At one point, the "mentoring" hero leaves the shivering and spooked youngster alone in the frigid bat cave with instructions to catch and eat rats.

There’s plenty of curvy women and bone-breaking gutter brawls in this Gotham and, to convey that "street sense" of the tale, there’s quite a bit of ripe language. In every issue, the graphic language was blacked-out graphically (think of the dark bars that cross out words in a redacted police report). Somewhat surprisingly, this was accomplished by putting the words on the page and then crossing them out. It sounds like they were asking for trouble to me, but Miller said it was simply the most practical way to do it.

"I wrote the actual words in the script and had them put on the page so the black bars would be the right size on the page," Miller explained. In this latest issue, the bars are there but on a few you can read right through them; they’re more gray than black. "It’s a simple printing error," Miller said. "That’s what it is."

An error that has the visible F-word coming out of the mouth of some punks and even (gasp) young Batgirl, who always seemed like such a polite young lady in the past. I called DC Comics and exchanged some e-mails with their head of publicity, David Hyde, but they are choosing to decline comment at this time. Miller did ask me to pass on a message to DC: "Tell them not to shred the copies. Please, a single plea, just don’t shred them."

The series, drawn by comics superstar Jim Lee, began in 2005. Miller said "It has been an absolute  gas to work on, it’s been a great, great time for me. I’ve written up through issue No. 13. There will be just four more after that. Or maybe five. My plan is in the end we find out where that robot tyrannosaurs in the Batcave comes from. We finally find out. That’s plan. Unless of course I get fired now."

— Geoff Boucher

"All-Star Batman and Robin" issue No. 10 images, drawn by Jim Lee, courtesy of DC Comics.

More in: Uncategorized, Batman, DC, Frank Miller


15 Responses to ‘Batman and Robin’ drops F-bomb, Frank Miller calls it ‘terrible and glorious’

  1. sophie says:

    how is this news? does dc comics think we all thought they were making g-rated comics? and frank miller is a jerk.

  2. vochoa0371 says:

    Hehehe… Ooopps… All it did was create an instant collectors item like stated on the article. There isn't much to say that te article did not say. I agree do not shred the issue. Let someone have them…

  3. sal says:

    i thin this was in purpose…to help drum up comic sales. I mean, mainstream comics are still written for that 1940's kid…granted, the boob-age in most mainstream comics has gotten "bigger…"
    Marvel and DC should lighten up…Thats way Marvel MAX books are a lot better…and garth ennis's run on the Punisher was so good.

  4. mr says:

    this goes along with the sex and nudity in batman confidential #10 Comic books – there not for kids anymore !

  5. schmakt says:

    i love this series.
    I love the art.
    I love the writing.
    I love the story.
    I usually hate Batman… but this has been great.
    I love that, without the censor's evil bars, they finally talked like normal people.
    I hate the DC is so prudish that they recalled all these issues and I can't get one, and all I want to do is read the freakin' story.

  6. Kazabud1 says:

    The new Messiah,B Hussein Obama will fix this also.

  7. Comicnaut says:

    The real atrocity is that the last issue came out over six months ago. Six months!

  8. JetDog says:

    There are at least a couple things wrong with this picture:
    1. DC Comics is having a cow over an F-bomb with all the other smut that they produce. I don't hate gore and sex, except when it looks like the artists producing it are getting it up, and unfortunately this defines too many modern comics.
    2. Frank Miller is being paid to write a comic and not to draw it.
    I've always cited the sexual perversion and the "bodybuilders versus everyone else" view of the world in 300 and Sin City as the main reasons I can't stand Frank Miller, but now I think I know where it comes from. The man just wants attention. This makes him even more despicable than I already thought he was! He is not fit to lick Will Eisner's boots.

  9. reynalyn says:

    ring ring ring to the rythm to the beat were gonna rock to the tree top all day long singing n the puffing and the sing that song all the little birdies on maple street all the little birdies going tweet tweet tweet rockin robin tweet tweet twiley rockin robin tweet tweeley mommas in the kitchen cookin some rice dads in the basement shoothing some mice sisters in heaven brothers in beat and were all gonna do the tweeley batman and robin flying in the air batman lost his underwear robin said he"ll buy me a pair but he dont know wat size i wear rockin robin tweet tweetley rokin robin tweetley!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Ayleeas says:

    who really cares about a couple of "dirty" words? And This is for the person who said Frank Miller is a jerk…screw you! Frank is brilliant and you just wish that you had a small fraction of his talent. player hater!

  11. Guateke says:

    I started reading this series and got thoroughly disappointed. Not only there's really no story (all flash and no substance), it's just a vehicle for some gorgeous Jim Lee art and some attention seeking rant from a way overrated Miller seeking to create "controversy" for controversy stake. And on top of it, always ridiculously late. It's an insult to comic book readers. Very sad indeed. I dropped this title ages ago. It's very simple, you don't like it? Don't buy it. If it doesn't sell, it won't get made. Period,

  12. Nave Hayder says:

    Hahahaha! Awesome! Frank Miller Strikes Again! I laughed my gut out… 'instant collector's edition' is exactly what we need in the comic-industry, now that all the possible-collectors edition (such as first appearances and such) are being OVER HYPED and sold with such greedy ambition (on part of the publishers) that the number of these 'soon-to-be-rare-issues' will never BE rare. All-Star Batman & Robin #10 is a good example how, even though capitalism and mass-media has ruined the collector's pace… IT NEVER DIES. But enough about collectors, it's the READERS I'm happy about… who's dumb enough to think that the streets of Gotham is safe from pejorative shouts? Even in the small mouth of good ol' Babs–she's a teenager in Gotham with a COP for a Dad, what else do you expect?! Even if I agree with some about the overly-extremes in terms of PLOT in the book, I just LOVE the way Miller's portraying these characters: and Barbara's an exeption here. For this short-story I was workin on, I had to look back at her history and the history I always believed her to possess, and NO WHERE did we see her initial AGE mentioned when Babs donned the Bat-mask for the first time; Miller did that. And within continuity or not, I'd say that's the same age-range I'd use for Babs EVERYTIME I read (or am alluded to) her debut. As for Miller, I gotta say, he really IS good at BULL****ING his Publishers! Hahahaha…. hats off.

  13. Prometheus Kane says:

    I'm jusr wondering when this series is going to end or if they'll continue it at all.

  14. […] Batman and Robin" No. herocomplex.latimes.com […]

  15. Nicholas says:

    I just finished Daredevil Born Again. Loved it. I loved Robin, Dark Knight Returns. I appreciated Strikes Again. But… All Star is trash. The storytelling and continuity is terrible. The characters… preposterous. If it’s supposed to be a sequel to the excellent Year One, it fails tremendously.

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