On another Earth, Bryce Wayne witnesses her beloved Sebastian Kyle murdered by metahumans. This leads her down a warpath which ends in the deaths of all metahumans on Earth. When Atlantis surfaced to greet the wider world, she mutated herself and created a deadly army to take the fight under the ocean.
When offered the opportunity by the Batman Who Laughs, she took her crusade to our Earth. Now she brings her pain and despair to Amnesty Bay, where she is met by the King of Atlantis in our world and his partner from Xebel: Aquaman and Mera.
Another dark and fascinating backstory is given to the ranks of Barbatos with the Drowned’s origin. She appears to have been born vicious and cruel, only given reason to take this to the nth degree with the death of Sebastian Kyle. Her powers her bestowed upon herself, making her a self-made one-woman apocalypse. She even managed to bring peace to her world, even if it is one soaked in blood.
Aquaman and Mera are frighteningly outmatched by her, showing how hopeless the situation for the Justice League has become in Metal.
Admittedly, the Drowned doesn’t have as much going on as Dawnbreaker or the Murder Machine. She isn’t quite as interesting, as she is a character only focused on the inner cruelty as opposed to the obsessions of Batman. This doesn’t make her a bad character, she simply isn’t quite as great as those other versions of Batman.
Also, we may now have a universe of origin for Dead Water, courtesy of the fact that Dan Abnett wrote this comic.
Philip Tan and Tyler Kirkham provide some good artwork to this tie-in, with Tan presenting a more grim and gritty style and Kirkham a more straightforward comic book appearance. There is one off-putting scene in Tan’s segment wherein we see Bryce Wayne performing the transformative procedure upon herself, and she is naked, sprawled out on a table while lasers carve into her. It’s a bit uncomfortable and compromising for an otherwise powerfully presented character, and it definitely felt out of place.
The art is quite good outside of that, and color artists Dean White and Arif Prianto provide good work for the comic.
The Metal tie-ins continue to be quality one-off reads, doing a good job of getting the readers psyched for the continuation of the main story in a way which few tie-ins accomplish. Batman: The Drowned gets a recommendation too.
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