Batman: The Drowned is a Dark Nights: Metal tie-in. It is published by DC Comics. It is written by Dan Abnett with art by Philip Tan.
Ok, I know that this DC Metal event has a lot to do with Batman. I mean, basically everything terrible happening involves some version of him from the dark multiverse, so obviously this is a very Batman-centric event. I know. I get it. Batman has been my favorite superhero since I discovered superheroes, I’m totally on board with the idea.
But why. WHY.
Why does Aquaman always have to either die or have something terrible happen to him during basically every major DC event ever? Blackest night? Dead. Zombie-Aquaman. Flashpoint? Bad guy, tries to take over the surface world. Injustice? Alternate universe Aquaman teams up with crazy, dictator version Superman. He either gets the short end of the stick OR just loses super fast and has to get help from the rest of the Justice League. Come on DC, give the man a break. This is why people give Aquaman so much shit.
Anyway, as you can probably deduce, this comic involves Aquaman. I mean, it’s called “The Drowned” a.k.a in water…where Aquaman lives. So. Obviously. But we’ll get to the Aquaman part.
So, throughout these one-shots, we have seen different iterations of Bruce Wayne/Batman. This is the first time where we get a gender swap, though. Meet Bryce Wayne. Which, seriously? Bryce? You can give male version Selena Kyle the name Sylvester Kyle, but you can’t do better than changing out one vowel for Bruce?
I have nothing against the name Bryce it’s just…It’s not very creative to me. Like, I read that and my first thought was, “Really? That’s the best you could come up with? With ALL the names out there that begin with B?” B. Wayne. You can pick ANY B name, dress them up as a bat, give them the last name Wayne, we’ll figure it out, I promise. And I know how good and, well, creative, you creators are, so let me see it.
But seriously. The name doesn’t make the comic bad. I really enjoyed this comic. I’ve enjoyed all of the Dark Nights: Metal issues and the tie-ins.
Alright, so we meet Bryce Wayne. We can tell from her dialogue that Sylvester, the love of her life, died a long time ago. Just as with previous tie-ins, she mentions “the one who laughs”, a being wearing all black, with a very Joker-esque smile on his face and a Batman-esque mask, but we have not seen their true face. The one who laughs, as they have done before to others, tells Bryce about the other world. The world that’s in the light. The world that thrives because her world and others like it suffer. But they have suffered enough, haven’t they? Isn’t it time they get to be in the light?
And so, Bryce listens to The One Who Laughs, and she comes to the regular universe, where she immediately unleashes this crazy fucking power and submerges and entire city under water. Which is where Aquaman comes in. We learn about the Aquawoman from Bryce’s world. The one she killed. The one who drowned her city and cause her to become what she is. She didn’t drown, she didn’t die, as she says, she adapted. She made herself adapt (with a pretty cool but also messed up procedure, I might add). And here she is, to take what “is owed” to her.
So I can understand why she would put up a good fight, she’s dealt with Atlanteans and she has been this…thing for a while now and she’s got these weird super powers. But she just straight up wrecks Aquaman AND Mera. Just. It takes like a page and a half. It’s not even a fight. Which, ok, I get it, everyone is a threat and strong and blah blah blah. But can’t we just get a good fight from Aquaman and Mera?
Bryce Wayne is a pretty awesome iteration of Bruce/Batman though and my favorite so far (other than the original, of course). She’s really cool/creepy looking. She has this steampunk-ish look, but a lot of that is due to her kind of resembling a pirate. Like, a cursed pirate who drowned at sea. Yeah. She looks like that to me. And she’s totally insane, of course. As cool as it is, she did essentially use mutated sea monster DNA to alter her body, that’s not exactly something a sane person would do.
Oh, and Philip Tan? Freaking excellent job on her details. I mean, the rest of the book looks great too, but seriously. The gray, water-warped skin, something that happens when a body is in water for a REALLY long time. Her clothes are tattered, her eyes are not human, her mask is just really intricate and cool. And the scenes where you see her before she became…this thing, she seriously looks exactly like Bruce Wayne, except a female. There’s this one scene where she’s fighting and she has this expression on her face and it’s Batman. It’s Batman and you can only tell its not because of her black lipstick and more defined lip line.
OVERALL SCORE: 8.5 / 10
We were given narrative to Bryce’s history without the whole book just being flashbacks about it. We didn’t hear a repeat of the Batman origin story we’ve all heard a million times over. We heard her story. We heard what happened to her to cause her to become a monster. I really liked that and thought it was a good move on Dan Abnett’s part. I definitely recommend this issue, even if you aren’t super invested in the DC Metal event, I really like this Batman story.
Make sure you pick up a copy of Batman: The Drowned from your local comic store!