Friday, January 31, 2014

The Batman versus That Man

Here we have all of Dredd's encounters with the Dark Knight, and another crossover with the DC comics character Lobo. Fictional crossovers are a long established trope in books, films and comics. We seem endlessly fascinated by the idea of our favourite characters meeting up, and the endless debates about whether Superman could defeat Dr Manhattan and so on. Most of the time this stuff leaves me cold, I'd rather read good stories in the character's own universe than wonder if Johnny Alpha could beat up the Punisher. Still Batman versus Dredd has to at least raise an eyebrow of interest doesn't it?

There are some parallels between the two characters' histories. Both had their early, somewhat silly stories with clownish opponents, wacky machines and giant dinosaurs. And both have evolved into their current grim and gritty story lines. I still find Dredd's world much more interesting, particularly because the man himself has been allowed to age, and has started to question his own obsessive dedication to the law. Meanwhile Batman stays pretty much the same throughout everything.

The cover by Mike Mignola may be my favourite thing about the whole collection, shame there is none of his art inside. However we do have art by Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry, Carl Critchlow, and Cam Kenmedy. Bisley and Fabry both seem too brash and nineties for me, but they are fan favourites and the lovely reproduction here is sure to satisfy many. My own preference would be Carl Critchlow and Dermot Power on The Ultimate Riddle story, and Cam Kennedy's work in Vendetta in Gotham.

It's all written by John Wagner and Alan Grant who produce solid stuff but I wouldn't regard this as their greatest work by some way. The Ultimate Riddle story may be the most fun even if if does just retread the classic trope of having warriors from different times and places plucked away to take part in a gladiatorial contest. More crossover nonsense, still at least Captain Kirk and the Gorn don't show up.

It is a very pretty collection and if you're looking for your Dredd versus Batman fix then this will do the job nicely. Personally I'm still hoping for something which has the same impact as Mutants in Mega-City One.

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