Way back in the mists of time (around 1990, maybe), I recall the Aliens vs. Predator comic. I think this may have been first to begin the trend of combining two well known movies or iconic characters. Since then we’ve had all sorts of combinations, involving Aliens, Predator, Terminator, Superman, Batman, and now Judge Dredd. Normally, my cynical side would question this publishing strategy as a crude attempt to extend a fanbase, but I have to say I really enjoyed the Judge Dredd vs. Aliens story Incubus that I read earlier this year.
So how do Dredd and Batman fare in the same story? Both characters are concerned with justice, but approach it from vastly different perspectives. Batman operates above the law, reaching where the law cannot. Judge Dredd is more of a by-the-book police-state lawman who has no tolerance for vigilantes. As you can suspect, the two characters do not get along. In the first story, Judgement on Gotham, Dredd finds himself in Gotham City as a result of Judge Death’s antics. The Dark Judge has used his dimension gate technology to open a portal to Batman’s world, where he proceeds, characteristically, to wreak havoc on Gotham. Batman ends up in Mega-City One, Dredd arrests him, and the two eventually wind up back in Gotham to fight Death. It’s a good story, marred slightly by a tendency to go for laughs more than scares – which harms the impact of Judge Death’s presence somewhat. Judge Anderson and Mean Machine Angel also feature in the story.
“Vendetta in Gotham” sees Dredd return to Gotham City, to pick a fight with Batman – seemingly for evading his fascistic brand of justice back on Mega-City One. Dredd’s actions initially felt out of character, but there’s a twist in the tail.
“The Ultimate Riddle” is a story in a similar vein to Battle Royale and The Hunger Games. Dredd finds himself mysteriously transported into a cage, in a room full of cages. Batman is in another cage. The rest of the cages are filled with weird and bizarre beings from other dimensions, representing the most fearsome warriors of each culture. A battle to the death commences. And who is the adversary who orchestrated all this? The clue’s in the title.
Lastly, in “Die Laughing” we have the Joker teaming up with the Judge Death, willingly becoming a Dark Judge himself. On Mega-City One, a biodome devoted to hedonism is getting ready to close its gates forever. Once it is sealed, the citizens within it will be permanently locked away forever from the rest of the city, their lives devoting to pleasure-seeking within its confines. Except the Dark Judges get locked in with them.
Not nearly the best Judge Dredd stories I’ve read, but good fun nevertheless.