DC Solicitation: Mega-City One's toughest lawman collides with Gotham City's Dark Knight in an explosive new trade paperback collecting three fully-painted crossover tales, all written by John Wagner & Alan Grant with stunning, fully painted art by Simon Bisley (LOBO), Carl Critchlow (JLA: RIDDLE OF THE BEAST), Dermot Power (THE SPECTRE), Glenn Fabry (PREACHER), Jim Murray (JLA: RIDDLE OF THE BEAST) and Jason Brashill (Outlaw)!
In JUDGMENT ON GOTHAM, Batman and Dredd meet head-on when Judge Death sets his sights on Gotham City. The Riddler lures our heroes into the clutches of a bizarre extradimensional warlord in THE ULTIMATE RIDDLE, and finally, DIE LAUGHING sees the Joker traveling to Mega-City One, intent on becoming the fifth Dark Judge! Co-published by DC Comics and 2000 A.D.
On sale Sept 1  o FC, 208 pg, $14.95 US
This volume reprints:
Judgment on Gotham (1991). Story by John Wagner & Alan Grant, art by Simon Bisley.
The Ultimate Riddle (1995). Story by John Wagner & Alan Grant, art by Carl Critchlow & Dermot Power.
Die Laughing (1998). Story by John Wagner & Alan Grant, art by Glenn Fabry, Jim Murray & Jason Brashill.
Commentary: None of these stories could be classified as art, but each one is a pretty solid action-adventure story, with the fisticuffs and the mayhem ramped up to ten. Not a lot of room for character development or Dredd's subtle black comedy in these; in fact, the treatment of Judge Death is, in the first volume, phenomenally over the top and not just a little silly. Both Dredd and Batman are pared down to their basics in "Judgment on Gotham." This works against Dredd - the need to introduce the character to American readers makes for some stilted, expository dialogue - but doesn't serve Batman well either. Alan Grant was still getting a handle on the character (he had scripted several Batman comics already and would go on to write the entire Shadow of the Bat series), but they correctly sussed that, Batman's training and bad-assitude be damned, Dredd can still knock him cold with one blow. (A beautiful moment.) "Judgment" was a mammoth sales success when it was released, selling over 500,000 copies in the USA.
"The Ultimate Riddle" is the third of the four stories originally published and, despite Critchlow's excellent art, the weakest of the lot. There's some pretty good black comedy surrounding the aliens, but the plot is one you've read many times before.
"Die Laughing" is a 92-page story, originally published in two parts, in which the Joker travels to Mega-City One to hook up with this "Judge Death" character he heard about, finds himself a gang, and learns that Death has three other superpowered cohorts. This is a fantastic story, with carnage and mayhem in abundance, and while the number of splash pages comes at the expense of some humor and helps the story rush too quickly to a conclusion, the art, by Jim Murray and Preacher's Garth Ennis, is fabulous, especially depicting a manic fight on a rollercoaster.
Not present in the volume is the second of the four crossovers, "Vendetta in Gotham," in which Dredd and Batman settle their differences in a beautiful, endless fight scene illustrated by Cam Kennedy. DC wanted to restrict the stories in this collection to the ones with painted art, leaving Kennedy's linework behind.
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