Illustrated by Simon Bisley, Cam Kennedy and more
Published by DC Comics and Rebellion
They could have been separated at birth, Batman and Judge Dredd. Both fighting for justice in cities of the future (mutated versions of New York), without superpowers but with a seemingly endless supply of hi-tech kit. But as this new collection illustrates, these distant cousins have come together in several stories for 2000AD.
The book includes five tales, from 1991’s Judgment in Gotham to 1995’s Lobo Judge Dredd: Psycho Bikers Vs. Mutants from Hell. Moving between the universes of Mega City One and Gotham City is made possible by the creation of Dimension Belts in the Judges’ Tek Labs. This neat device allows not only the protagonists to visit each other’s worlds, but some of their most notorious nemeses, from Judge Death and Mean Machine to Scarecrow and the Joker.
Writers Alan Grant and John Wagner, whose reputations with both IPC and DC Comics allowed for these crossovers, have great fun with the set up. What could descend into a simple Street Fighter scenario is enlivened considerably by sub plots, psychodrama and dark humour. There is even a vague arc plot running through these tales.
What further elevates these strips, and this collection, is the beautiful art used to visualise the stories. The legendary Simon Bisley painted every panel of Judgment on Gotham, and the experience so exhausted him that the follow ups all had different artists and visual styles. Each gives a different take on Mega City One and Gotham City, and the results are a feast for the eyes. The reproduction here is top class.
The only slight niggle with this book is the lack of context. Original publication dates for the stories (published as stand alone books) are not given, there is no introduction to the collection (surely Wagner has something to say about Batman’s influence on Judge Dredd?) and no insight into the fascinating history of these strips (for that, look no further than Douglas Wolk’s excellent blog at http://dreddreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/batmanjudge-dredd-files.html).
But these are minor omissions in a book so tightly packed with the finest writers and illustrators in modern comics, and two fictional icons of the same. A must-have on every comic fan’s list this Christmas.