The Batman/Judge Dredd Files

The Batman/Judge Dredd Files
The Batman Judge Dredd Files review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 1-4012-0420-1
  • Release date: 2004
  • UPC: 9781401204204
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

This is a strange collection. During the 1990s there were four teamings of Batman and Judge Dredd, all written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, yet this package only provides three of them. Worse still, the omission isn’t the poorest outing, but the better Vendetta in Gotham, very nicely drawn by Cam Kennedy.

The most highly regarded meeting between Batman and Dredd is the first, Judgement on Gotham, featuring some righteous Simon Bisley art (sample spread left), although also some really rushed pages. Judge Death manifests in Gotham, Batman heads to Mega-City One to butt heads with Mean Machine and Dredd himself, while Judge Anderson has a meaty role and her instincts are instrumental in saving the day. It’s funny, it’s thrilling and as drawn by Bisley, one wild ride.

Back in the day it was intended the final ‘Die Laughing’ would be the sequel, the Joker’s visit to Mega-City One a no-brainer, but that became plagued by delays. To fill in Vendetta appeared, and when another fill-in was needed The Ultimate Riddle manifested. Perhaps scheduled at short notice, Grant and Wagner are uninspired and turn in what’s in effect the plot of a hunt and chase video game. Carl Critchlow draws two-thirds influenced by Bisley’s painting, with Critchlow stronger at telling the story, but the minus is he’s not as unrestrained, so it’s altogether tamer affair. Dermot Power completes the story, but in 1995 he was a promising talent, not the finished article, and it shows.

‘Die Laughing’ eventually appeared in 1998, Glenn Fabry (sample art right) drawing around half, his final pages sifted with some from Jason Brashill, while Jim Murray completes the project. The art is all magnificent, more traditional than Bisley, but equally as good, with both Fabry and Murray painting a memorable Joker. ‘Die Laughing’ hits the spot. Wagner and Grant’s script sparkles, their plot holds together well, and Batman in Mega-City One is more fun than Dredd in Gotham, where the latter’s futuristic technology gives him an advantage. Even more fun is the Joker in Mega-City One accompanied by Judge Death for the sealing of the Megasphere, in which 10,000 hedonists intend to spend the remainder of their lives. The plot and mystery are largely front-ended while Murray paints the ensuing mayhem and Wagner and Grant provide him with the visual set pieces. It might have taken three artists, but the fun is had.

The weak Riddler tale drops the overall rating, but if you find this cheap, it’s a bargain. All in all, though, you’re better off picking up the package that does include all four stories, 2018’s Batman/Judge Dredd Collection.