Review: Batman – The Drowned #1

It is beginning to feel like the start of a bad joke; “a Justice Leaguer and Batman get mashed on a Dark Earth and one say to the other……”

This time around it’s Aqua……person?  Bruce Wayne is replaced by Bryce Wayne who after the loss of Sylvester goes a little bit off the deep end, ironically. From there its origin time as we get to see the lengths and breadths that Bryce will go to save her Earth.  Whilst tales of lost love and evil retribution and self-sacrifice are all well and good, can anyone explain me why the Bat motif?  If n the last book the link to Bat-Green-Man-Lantern was tenuous, here it is non-existent.

Dan Abnett, taking a break from the excellent Titans book and of course his own Aquaman book, is the scribe charged with charting this particularly fishy tale.  Having a high-profile writer on board should help attract readers and of course this particular Batman probably raised the most questions.  The monologue that accompanies Bryce is solid throughout, carrying a mix of dread and fear.  Thanks to the lack of the Bat element rasion d’etre, Bryce seems like a totally original character, unlike the rest of the mash-ups that have populated the comic book racks.  It’s shame that the book and its preceding books are so formulaic that here, DC don’t actually need a writer of Abnetts quality.

Philip Tan and Tyler Kirkham supply the art and whereas Abnetts’ skills may not be tested on this book, Tan and Kirkham surely deliver the punch.  From page one, the art works on so many levels.  Bryce with her mix of Bat and pirate feels like she stepped out of a Batman infused Penny Dreadful episode with the long boots reminding my of the design work in Gotham by Gaslight.  The heroes, Aquaman, Aquawoman and Mera all look great and the confrontations work extremely well, with the trheat of death almost palpable until fate takes a hand..  The watery grave of the worlds is carefully presented by colourists Dean White and Arif Prianto who both deliver a scheme that is awe-inspiring.  Regardless of my reservations about these one-shots, they have proved that DC have the colourists to really make the art pop.  Creating dark worlds is one thing, but thanks to the raft of colourists involved, we can truly feel the malevolence of the dark multiverse.  A quick shout out for Jason Fabok’s cover, which whilst may not be the most action orientated cover on the shelf, it does go to show he can draw women in a strong  manner.  DC should take note as they have a bunch of books with artists who seem more a than a tad inconsistent in that particular arena.

Formulaic at worst, this book is a great advert for seeing more of Philip Tan’s work.  Collectors of these one-shots may well discover that this book, at least artistically, is a treasure.

Writing – 3.5 Stars
Art – 5 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars
Cover – 5 Stars

Written by; Dan Abnett
Art by; Philip Tan & Tyler Kirkham
Colors by Dean White & Arif Prianto
Cover by: Jason Fabok

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