Diamond Comic Distributors’ notice to retailers to destroy all copies of All Star Batman & Robin #10 this week was apparently made at DC’s request because the black boxes used to cover obscenities deemed too extreme in the dialogue were not dark enough to make the words illegible in all cases.  The black boxes were used on six pages, in some cases numerous times on a single page.  While some were dark enough to completely obscure what was under them, others were not.

This isn’t the first time the black box technique has been used to cover words in the dialogue of this title.  A quick skim of the All Star Batman & Robin hardcover collection shows that it was used on at least one previous occasion, although in that case the black box thoroughly obscured the offending word. This series, written by “comics noir auteur” Frank Miller, has already been controversial for its language, particularly for the line “I'm the g*******d Batman!"  But the script for the tenth issue took things a lot further, leading DC to use the black box technique much more frequently than it ever had before.

The destruction of the print run and presumed reprinting (although no notice of a new printing has yet been given) will have a considerable cost.  The last issue of All Star Batman & Robin (in February, yes #10 is that late) sold over 93,000 copies to comic stores (see “Top 300 Comics—February 2008”).