The Batman/Judge Dredd Collection
Art by Simon Bisley and Todd Klein (“Judgment On Gotham”), Cam Kennedy, Digital Chameleon, Ken Bruzenak and Mike Mignola (“Vendetta In Gotham”), Carl Critchlow, Dermot Power and Richard Starkings (“The Ultimate Riddle”), Glenn Fabry, Jim Murray, Jason Brashill and Ellie De Ville (“Die Laughing”), Val Semeiks, John Dell, Gloria Vasquez and Bill Oakley (“Lobo/Judge Dredd: Psycho-Bikers vs The Mutants From Hell”)
Published by Rebellion
There are no two crime fighters, anywhere in the halls of fiction, grumpier than Batman and Judge Dredd. Whilst the trope of “two superheroes meet, fight and then team up” is crushingly tired everywhere else, these two guardians of the law were always going to meet, and fight, and fight crime. And then fight again. As this collection of the four crossover specials published in the ’90s shows, whilst both men were left battered and bruised, the end result is some really fun comics.
This first special is basically an excuse for the two iconic figures to fight each other… and Judge Death… and Mean Machine Angel… and there’s really no problem with that. Simon Bisley’s staggeringly muscular, flexed artwork is the perfect match for these two characters and he excels at action and violence so extreme it becomes funny. The climactic fight is especially fantastic, with Mean Machine stuck on 4½ and butting the stage apart. Fast, nasty and fun, it’s a great one-shot exploration of the two men.
Fabry and Murray’s gloriously sinewy, burly art is the perfect bookend to Bisley’s work in the first story and they clearly relish showing Mega City 1 off in all its demented glory. There are some lovely full splash pages and some cheerfully grotesque moments, especially the rapid degeneration of one of Mortis’ victims. However, the whole thing pales in comparison to seeing Batman, astride a Lawmaster, side by side with Dredd. Whilst the Joker as a Dark Judge doesn’t quite work, brilliantly that’s acknowledged in the story and it’s touches like that, along with the endless variety of hideous things the Dark Judges do to people, that make it huge fun to read. “Die Laughing” is the perfect, epic summer blockbuster blow off to the series of stories; huge, demented, hideously violent and immensely fun.
The book’s rounded out by the Dredd/Lobo crossover which has some particularly great art and is about as sensible as you might think. However, whilst it’s fun, this book belongs to Dredd and Batman, the two grumpiest men in comics. They don’t like each other, they don’t trust each other’s methods but they do make a great team.
Just don’t tell them that.