Comics: Batman/Judge Dredd: Judgement On Gotham/Vendetta in Gotham

DC and 2000 AD’s new Batman/Dredd graphic novel collects the original two prestige format crossovers from the early '90s in one volume. Readers are treated to some great art, especially at the hands of the legendary Simon Bisley, but the writing leaves one underwhelmed, to say the least. This is surprising given the fact that Alan Grant is known for some very strong work in his repertoire, although his performance here could, in part, be attributed to his collaboration with John Wagner.

The first crossover, called Judgement on Gotham, begins with a brutal murder of two accused sinners at the hands of Judge Death, who declares that he has arrived to exact judgment on Gotham City. Batman soon intervenes in this bizarre turn of events, only to find himself suddenly transported by the dimension belt to Mega City. The Caped Crusader then find himself face to face with none other than good ol’ Judge Dredd, setting the rest of the story in motion. Meanwhile, back in Gotham City, Scarecrow and Judge Death join forces for obviously nefarious purposes. One can guess easily from there that our heroes have no choice but to put aside their differences for the greater good and take down this unholy alliance.

The writing in this issue isn’t very engaging, the plot is quite sterile, and Batman’s portrayal seemed quite off compared to the cool, confident Dark Knight the audience knows him to be. Much of the dark mood and atmosphere can be felt in large part due to Bisley’s work, and it’s unfortunate his talent was not served by better writing on this project.

The same writing problems plague the second crossover, Vendetta in Gotham, while Cam Kennedy takes over art duties from Simon Bisley. Kennedy’s art is serviceable, but it’s nowhere near as moody or atmospheric as Bisley’s. This is definitely the weaker of the two crossovers. We find Judge Dredd return to Gotham finish his remaining business with Batman from their very first encounter. Batman’s mischaracterization woefully continues in this sequel, while Dredd continues his stale “I don’t like vigilantes” shtick. They spend the majority of the issue bickering and fighting, only to join forces at the last minute to stop the machinations of the Ventriloquist. This was probably just as bad, and disappointing, as Frank Miller’s Spawn/Batman crossover from the mid-1990s.

Die-hard fans of the two characters would probably pick this up, but as for new readers, they wouldn’t be missing much in terms of storytelling if they gave this volume a pass.

-Berk koca