If Batman fans ever wondered what would have changed if Bruce Wayne's parents had a daughter instead, they now have their answer: an evil version of Aquaman, apparently. That's the alternate reality set to be explored in BATMAN: THE DROWNED, just one of several comics focused on the nightmares that Bruce Wayne could have become, had his relationships with the rest of the Justice League's heroes (specifically, their powers) turned from cooperation to competition.
It's all part of DC's larger METAL event, bringing a prophecy millennia in the making to fruition. A prophecy that has turned Batman into a doorway to Hell itself: the Dark Multiverse of DC Comics, where horrifying 'What If?' scenarios are actually brought into being. The result is an army of seven evil Batmen who thankfully never became real... until now. Of course, THE DROWNED won't just reveal how different a hero Batman would be if he embraced the powers of Aquaman's domain... it will also show how much would change if he were a woman instead.
When the seven nightmare Batmen were fully revealed as dark reflections of the Justice League, it was hard to determine which was most shocking. Was it the Batman who stole The Flash's speed? The Batman who used a Green Lantern ring to avenge his parents? The Batman who merged his DNA with Superman's killer, Doomsday? Or the team's most twisted leader: the Batman who became the Joker?
All were worthy of interest and speculation, but the version apparently twisting the lore and mission of Aquaman stood out for a different reason. Unlike the others, this evil Aqua-Batman known only as "The Drowned" wasn't a man at all. That was all the mystery, with DC keeping almost all other details under wraps. Now, we have a single double-page spread to shed some light on The Drowned's story, from Dan Abnett and Philip Tan (courtesy of CBR):
Previously teased artwork shows Aquaman and Mera doing battle with this villainess, although it's unclear if that's meant to suggest that the pair will stand against her in the main DC Universe, or the art is a flashback to the rise of The Drowned on her own reality (doomed to fall like all others in the Dark Multiverse, hence their invasion of a more stable one). This artwork at least shows the powers fans can expect to see from the villain, spewing what appears to be a blast of purple water towards a lighthouse. Could this be the lighthouse in Amnesty Bay, where the original Aquaman was raised by his human father?
The car appearing to be submerged teases The Drowned's destruction via tidal waves, but the bigger questions remain. Is a single chromosome really all that separates the Batman we know from this nightmare? How did she gain powers over 'The Drowned' (presumably the souls and bodies of those claimed by the sea)? And what is her purpose?
Those questions will only be answered when THE DROWNED releases, but in the meantime curious fans should check out the full schedule of the released and upcoming Dark Nights one-shots below:
- BATMAN: THE RED DEATH #1 by writer Joshua Williamson and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico (September 20th)
- BATMAN: THE MURDER MACHINE #1 by writer Frank Tieri and artist Ricardo Federici (September 27th)
- BATMAN: THE DAWNBREAKER #1 by writer Sam Humphries and artist Ethan Van Sciver (October 4th)
- BATMAN: THE DROWNED #1 by writer Dan Abnett and artist Philip Tan (October 18th)
- BATMAN: THE MERCILESS #1 by writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Francis Manapul (October 25th)
- BATMAN: THE DEVASTATOR #1 by writer Frank Tieri and artist Tony S. Daniel (November 1st)
- THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #1 (on sale November 15).
BATMAN: THE DROWNED #1 releases on October 18, 2017.