Batman / Dredd TPB – John Wagner / Alan Grant

4 out of 5

A a dead chicken nailed to Judge Death’s shoulder; Mean Machine getting stuck at 4 1/2; JD and Bats brawlin’ on top of a train just ’cause Dredd wants to pick a fight…  Yessir, the Batman and Judge Dredd crossovers – the Simon Bisley arted Judgement on Gotham and Cam Kennedy’s Vendetta in Gotham, both scripted by Wags and Grant and collected here – are absolutely played for yuks, and for the most part, they deliver.

In Judgement on Gotham, Batman gets dragged to MC-1 by a dimensional warp, then flips back to Gotham in pursuit of Death, Dredd and Anderson in pursuit or along for the ride.  Mean Machine and Scarecrow get wrapped up in this, as does the band Living Death, and it’s pretty much a ridiculous mash-up of testosterone and over-the-top villains, Bisley in lovely form with his gregarious musculature and angled figures.

Vendetta in Gotham has Dredd flipping back to Gotham to settle some scores – y’see, when Batman came to MC-1, he might’ve punched Joe in the face – while a parallel plotline has Scarface attempting to blow up some politico officials.  Cam Kennedy is in similar tip-top form, all shadows and long bat ears and big chins.

It’s telling that both of these crossovers mostly take place in Batman’s town, as colorful characters have a place there.  In MC-1, Batman’d be shot or jailed in moments, no compunction.  Hard to crossover-justify that with a hardliner like Dredd, so Wags and Grant did well by keeping things in Bat city.  And while I’m normally eye-rolly toward the meet-up foibles of crossovers, this is a particularly hilarious take on it, embracing both character’s forthrightness and ignorance for plenty of dumb punchin’ just ’cause.  They never really agree, so much as they happen to be running in the same direction.

So what’s with the docked star?  …Well… both stories aren’t particularly immersive, as you know it’s just a biding time until our characters go their separate ways, and, certainly a personal opinion, but I don’t like Bisley, and the reasons for that are still on display here: that I don’t see him as a great sequential artist.  His art is damned interesting here, which I’d never deny, but whenever we need to understand a scene beyond people glowering at one another, things get mixed in shadows and space.  Kennedy has him beat there, bar none.  But: this is published as a cheap little compendium, and again, there was never any denying that these weren’t just meant to be fun one-shots, so: absolutely worth it.

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