Circling the Drain  (Batman:  the Drowned Comic Review)

The Batmen from the Dark Multiverse are invading Earth-0!  Each one more terrifying than the last!  Can Aquaman and Mera handle this dark amalgamation of Batman and Aquaman?

BATMAN:  THE DROWNED
Authors:  Dan Abnett
Artists:  Philip Tan
Inkers:  Tyler Kirkham
Colors:  Dean White & Arif Prianto
Publisher:  DC Comics

What You Need to Know:

A dark universe exists.  Dark versions of the Batman have poured through a portal.  Each is an amalgamation of Batman and the Justice League.  So far, Flash, Green Lantern, and Cyborg have all encountered the monsters.  Dr. Fate has saved both Flash and Green Lantern (sorry, Cyborg, but you’re on your own).

What You’ll Find Out: 

The Drowned rises up through the water into the shallow water of Amnesty Bay.  She opens her mouth and torrents of water spew out, drowning the entire town.  As she surveys her handywork, she is stopped by Aquaman and his wife, Mera.  Mera attempts to control the water in an effort to fight this new foe but finds that the water does not respond to her commands.  Instead, Drowned fights back, spewing forth dead water (which is the coolest term for underwater zombies).  The Drowned then grabs Mera and the infection spreads to Aquaman’s wife, turning her into a zombie, much to Arthur’s horror.  And as he is overwhelmed by the Dead Water, a glowing Ankh appears and spirits him away, leaving the Drowned victorious.

aquaman vs drowned

As with all the other Dark Batmen one-shots, we also get a glimpse into the Drowned’s history, sprinkled throughout the issue.  Her name is Bryce Wayne and she comes from a universe where some of the women are men and vice versa (ever seen gender-swap cosply?  Something like that).  She is that world’s Batman (or Batwoman?) but after her love, Sylvester Kyle (guess who that is) was killed by metas, she waged war on all the metas (super powered beings) of her world.  And after the last of the “rogue metas” were killed, Aquawoman showed up, leading the Atlanteans.  Aquawoman declared their peaceful intend, but Batwoman “knew” better.  She took the battle to the Atlanteans, killing their queen with her own trident.

However, that did not drive the Atlanteans back as Batwoman had thought.  Instead, they retaliated by drowning all of Gotham City.  So to fight them on their own turf, Batwoman undergoes a surgical modification, grafting mutated Atlantean DNA to her own, turning herself into a hybrid.  She also created her own army that she could call forth at any time:  Dead Waters.  And with that, her army was able to conquer the Atlanteans but also plunged the entire world under water, creating her new kingdom.  Until, that is, the One Who Laughs shows up one day to explain the concept of the multi-verse and the dark multi-verse.

What Just Happened? 

This….  This is one of the best of the Batmen one-shots.  Without a doubt.  I’ve reviewed issues that were so bad that it was hard to know where to start…this one is like that but the opposite.  There’s so much good with it, it’s hard to know where to start.  I want a miniseries just staring the Drowned.  The inner monologue really gives this book its feels.  You can just feel the Drowned’s crazy but you almost feel bad for her.  Something happened.  She had a mental break.  And boy did it go wrong.  She’s obviously unhinged.  She doesn’t even believe that Aquawoman wants peace.  I fully believe that those she referred to as “Rogue metas” are the heroes of that world like Superman.  I think she has the view of “the only good meta is a dead meta”.  So seeing her entire history spread out a bit is definitely on my wish list (hint, hint, DC!).

The art is fantastic.  Tan has always been a favorite of mine but for such a dark story, his pencils work perfectly.  The inks by Kirkham make every shadow terrifying.  And the Drowned is difficult to look at, but that’s the point.  She’s basically a zombie…and has her own army of zombies…and can create more zombies…and can control water better than Mera!

Mera

If I had any complaints about this book?  It takes place before Metal #3 but came out a week after.  And…um…yeah, that’s it.

Okay, okay…in all seriousness, it almost felt like her history was glossed over in order to tell the story of the Drowned fighting Aquaman.

But beyond that…everything about this issue is perfect.

Rating: 9.5/10.

Final Thoughts:  These one-shots keep getting better and better.  Philip Tan and Dan Abnett have crafted a story that fits into the Metal mythos perfectly, scaring the crap out of you, and washing away all hope in a dead tsunami.  The Drowned may be my favorite of the Batmen from the Dark Multiverse and this story surprised me considering that I’ve never cared too much about Aquaman.

 

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