Batman: The Drowned is one of seven one shots coming out of Dark Nights: Metal regarding the seven Dark Knights, Batmen (and Batwoman) from the Dark Multiverse.
So what’s it about?
The official summary (that is used for all of the one shots) reads:
As the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL rock the DC Universe, the creatures of the Dark Multiverse stand ready to invade our world! How can even the World’s Greatest Heroes stop a horde of deadly beings that appear to be powerful, nightmare versions of familiar figures?
What’s the story?
The Drowned details the story of the Batman (in this case Batwoman) of Earth 11, an Earth where all the male characters are female and the female characters are male. The issue starts showing off the Drowned’s attack on Aquaman’s home in Amnesty Bay which leads to Aquaman and Mera coming to the defense of the town. It then segues into her backstory as Bryce Wayne and how she had to fight and adapt to an Atlantean invasion led by Aquawoman on her own world.
What was good and bad about it?
The issue has some incredibly great writing from Dan Abnett that reflects his own work on Aquaman. He pulls elements from his own work such as the Dead Water enemies that have appeared in two arcs and uses them to build on how dangerous this nightmare Batman really is.
Abnett also brings in the concept of Earth 11, which is the world where the genders of characters are inverted, and twists it into the nightmare world of the Dark Multiverse. This idea as a concept has not been touched on much and is nice to see DC at least acknowledge that Earth 11 is still a thing, even if it’s through an evil character from a dark mirror of that world.
The backstory around the character also gives you a twinge of sympathy for her, much like the Murder Machine could have, by telling the struggle of her dealing with the death of her version of Catwoman, though in this world Catwoman is male and called Sylvester Kyle, and her attempts to make the world a better place until her fall due to the attack of the Atlanteans.
It also shows the despair that many of the Dark Knights feel once they find out that their worlds are meant to be imperfect and chaotic with no way to change them. When she is told that it’s all the fault of the people of Earth 0, that despair changes to rage.
It would have been nice for the issue to give more information on how Bryce gained the ability to use some abilities like the portal that allows her to bring in the Dead Waters to fight for her and how she could change Mera, but that’s more of a minor thing due to wanting to know more about this character that we had previously not been told much about.
And the art?
The art, drawn by Philip Tan and Tyler Kirkman with colors by Dean White and Arif Prianto, is very nice to look at. The designs of the characters and scenes throughout the issue are great to look at and is visually interesting from start to finish. The way the water being expelled from the mouth of The Drowned is drawn and colored shows the reader that it isn’t normal and people should be worried about coming into contact with it. The way the main character is drawn before and after transformation shows the contrast to how Bryce Wayne was before tackling the Atlantean problem and how it deformed her into the current state she appears in during Metal.