Within the Dark Multiverse, lies universes that are never meant to prosper, only to suffer and here we are with the fourth tie-in to the Dark Nights Metal event!
The Batman who laughs has collected some of his followers of the Dark Multiverse such as Red Death, Death Machine, and Dawn Breaker, and is recruiting more. This leads to Earth -11, a world where Bryce Wayne had spent all her life trying to protect her world and lover Sylvester Kyle, but after losing him, and her own city, she decides to take revenge against the world. All of her hard work and dedication of protecting her city, and in the end, she is doomed to a dark fate.. or is she? What happened to Bryce Wayne and her world, what will she do when she comes across Aquaman? And who can stop her wrath? In a dark universe where anything is possible, in a dark Multiverse where variations of Batman reflect all of the dark paths he could have walked, anything is possible…within the world of Dark Nights Metal!!!
Admittedly, at first, I wasn’t sure how a female version of Bruce Wayne would be named anything like her main continuity counterpart. But thankfully, Dan Abnett was clever enough to play around with her name so she could reflect a version Bruce Wayne like all of the other evil Dark Knights.
What’s cool about The Drowned is that this version of Batman is an iteration that plays off of the idea of what would happen to Batman if he ever decided to settle down. It’s a Batman (in this case a Batwoman) that achieved so much in their war against crime, only to lose it all and see that all that they accomplished has all been for nothing in the grand scheme of the universe.
In a way, The Drowned is that she parallels Batman (who in the main series, Tom King has Batman and Catwoman engaged) if he was to have lost the love of his life. While Red Death lost all of his friends and his universe and was trying to be fast enough to save everyone, he was just trying to be a super multitasker. Death Machine is a Batman that was trying to preserve his father figure Alfred after his death and decided to keep him alive as a program that would then corrupt him. Dawn Breaker is a Batman that lost his parents at a young age, yet possessed the power of a Green Lantern ring made him become more powerful and smarter, but less in tuned with his humanity and compassion for others.
This is a Batman who is more concerned with the loss of her lover, willing to exact her wrath in retaliation to the wrong she has suffered. Obviously, Bryce Wayne is an Aquaman themed version of Batman, but Abnett’s explanation of how Wayne gains her abilities is an enjoyable, plausible one. Someone who had to adapt to the environment and rules of war left with no choice but to alter their own selves in order to win is an occurring theme that really flows well with the overall story.
Abnett does a fine job at giving a glimpse as to how it all went wrong for Bryce Wayne in her earth. Much like the Death Machine tie-in, the narrative functions the same way, setting the plot in the present as The Drowned faces off against Aquaman and Mera while showcasing bits of flashbacks revealing how she came to be.
The dialogue is pretty good and mostly consists of Bryce Wayne monologues. Although when there is dialogue I exchanged between other characters such as Aquaman and Mera, I felt it was a bit choppy in some panels. Then again, it’s a minor nitpick since the comic is focused on the narrative of the Bryce Wayne and her need for revenge.
In regards of the artwork, Philip Tan and Tyler Kirkham did a great job on it. But what surprised me was seeing some of the pages that featured Kirkham’s art. It almost didn’t seem recognizable In a good way. It felt much more dense, more layered, and a bit heavy, as though each character involved is bearing a heavy presence with each motion or hit. Regardless, the panel work on this issue was pretty solid, and the joint assistance between Tan and Kirkham really worked well, blending the two art styles together where it preserves the visual narrative of the book. The color work by Dean White and Arif Prianto provided Kirkman and Tan’s art with beautiful aquatic aesthetics, cementing the oceanic depths and feel whenever the characters are maneuvering through the panels.
Overall, this was a really good tie-in. Although I Death Machine is my favorite tie-in thus far, this shared similar narrative structure that really made it as likable. Another fine addition of Tie-Ins to this awesome Dark Nights Metal series that makes it with picking up to read. It’s definitely worth picking up to get more backstory on one of the Dark Knights, making it worth your while. Add this to your pull list.
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