Another week, another chapter in the Dark Nights Metal saga. Last week, we had the Justice League searching for Bruce Wayne in the main Dark Nights series, so until the next release, we have more origin stories of the multiversal invaders. We had The Red Death, The Murder Machine, and The Dawnbreaker each taking on their counterparts while we learned their origins. This week we have one of the more curious creations of the Dark Knights: Batman The Drowned. So what could this Batwoman possibly do to the world the others haven’t?
**Some Spoilers Below**
The Drowned, if not obvious by the name, is an amalgamation between Batman and Aquaman. She comes from Earth -11, a gender-swapped earth, where “Bryce” Wayne has a mistrust for metahumans after losing the love of her life. When Aquawoman first appeared, Bryce charged into battle with the intent to kill her. This attack is successful, which leads to the Atlanteans retaliating by flooding the surface. To combat this threat Batwoman genetically alters herself to gain powers, similar to an Atlantean (water breathing, super strength, etc).
The origin story of this Batman might be the most intriguing one I have seen yet. Continuing the trend of twisting Batman’s qualities, we have Bryce’s mistrust cause the destruction of her city. This leads her to give herself powers to fight the Atlanteans, which is something unseen in most Batman comics. Most members of the Bat-family, in nearly every iteration, can rely on their skills to stand as equals to superpowered heroes. They never admit they need the powers as The Drowned does here.
When it comes to the action, like the past stories, the heroes have a hard time trying to keep The Drowned down. While it was fine at first, especially considering the heroes now have the weakness in the main storyline, I’d actually to see the Dark Knights struggle a bit. These are the world’s greatest heroes they’re going up against, you’d expect them to have some sort of difficulty.
In terms of art, the pencil work succeeds on all fronts. The design of The Drowned and her minions are terrifying, reminiscent of the sea monsters that sailors would fear centuries ago. Her powers of corrupting sea life are evocative as you watch the details cover their faces. It’s small details that help art feel more alive.
There is a downside to the art and it’s very distracting: the colors. As hilarious as this might sound, the issue gets too dark sometimes. I know this is supposed to be an evil Batwoman, so the colors are expected to be dark, but most of the colors have the suit form into one black blob when seen at a distance.
This is not to say that the all of the color work is terrible. The colors of Aquaman, Mera, and during the battle of Batwoman and Aquawoman are fantastic and allow the pictures to pop off the page. It’s just the rest of the issue tries to be dark, which works, but is difficult for the reader to take in what is on the page.
I think it’s safe to say that this Dark Knight is worthy of its title and another fantastic chapter in this event. The origin is as compelling as Murder Machine and Red Death while adding its own twist. While the pencil work is fantastic, the coloring ends up being too dark at times to truly enjoy it. If you’ve been a fan of the saga so far, Aquaman, or multiverse stories, this comic is for you.