Batman/Dredd: Judgement on Gotham/Vendetta in Gotham

Batman/Dredd: Judgement on Gotham/Vendetta in Gotham
Batman/Dredd graphic novel review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: 2000AD - 978-1-78108-627-8
  • Release date: 2018
  • UPC: 9781781086278
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

Even at the bargain price a digest format allows, Batman/Dredd is a strange choice for the format, especially considering that when first published both ‘Judgement on Gotham’ and Vendetta in Gotham’ were published on larger than usual pages. They may have vastly different styles, but shrinking the art doesn’t do Simon Bisley or especially Cam Kennedy any favours.

When Batman first teamed with Judge Dredd it was bigger news in the UK than the US, and one wonders what the Batman readers of the early 1990s made of Bisley’s wild interpretation of the character and his technology. It’s exaggerated, unrestrained and when he’s putting the effort this is thrilling Batman and thrilling Dredd, whose adventures were more commonly irreverent and excessive. However, it’s only the great pages people remember and there are quite a few just dashed off.

At the time of original publication Alan Grant and John Wagner were writing both Batman and Dredd’s adventures, so have the perfect handle on the mixture of comedy and seriousness needed. Both are intractable personalities, who inevitably rub each other up the wrong way, so the psi talents of Judge Anderson provide a middleground. Judge Death, Mean Machine and the Scarecrow also put in appearances in what’s no longer groundbreaking, but certainly still fun.

Dredd and Batman’s second encounter was produced at relatively short notice as a stopgap, but Wagner and Grant’s professionalism ensures this isn’t obvious, while Kennedy really pulls out all the stops for some spectacular pages. His structured, detailed pen and ink is greatly removed from Bisley’s expressive painting, but equally good. The plot is relatively slim, consisting of two seemingly unrelated threads that eventually tie together, and both have tension and mystery. Dredd arrives in Gotham for some unfinished business, wanting to take Batman in for transgressions in the previous story, while Scarface and the Ventriloquist are certainly up to something, but what the hell that is isn’t apparent. There’s lots of fun to be had with the ridiculous dialogue, and eventually everything has its reason.

It shouldn’t be the case, but for some reason ‘Vendetta’ seems to be considered the runt of the litter as far as Batman and Dredd teamings go. It’s never been issued as a standalone graphic novel, and is the one Batman/Dredd meeting omitted from The Batman/Judge Dredd Files. It is found in The Batman/Judge Dredd Collection, and is better than the spotty publication suggests.