Batman/Judge Dredd: The Ultimate Riddle
by Alan Grant, John Wagner,
Carl Critchlow, Dermot Power
(DC Comics, 1995)

Batman/Judge Dredd: Die Laughing
by Alan Grant, John Wagner,
Glenn Fabry, Jim Murray
(DC Comics, 1998)

Judge Dredd is not a character I know well. I'm not fond enough to learn more. But Batman, I like. So I decided to try a pair of crossovers, hoping Batman would carry the day.

He does. The first story, The Ultimate Riddle (which was not, apparently, the first meeting between these two characters), is sort of a letdown. A yarn about an orchestrated hunt among sentient beings has been done too many times to get excited about it now, and the "big twist" at the beginning is an obvious attempt at misdirection. Dredd's motivations are suspect throughout -- his determination of who he should or shouldn't kill seems entirely subjective -- and it's unlikely Batman would tolerate Dredd's gun-happy ways for even a second. Their cooperation in this book makes no sense. Likewise, the scheme at the root of this book seems beyond the ken of the Riddler.

Things improve in Die Laughing, in which the Joker finds a way to transport to Dredd's world, unleash a quartet of dire and deadly Judges and gain a taste of immortality (and a wicked new look) in the process. Judge Anderson, a telepathic ally of Dredd's, teleports to Batman for help and spends a healthy portion of the book wearing only a sheet. Batman, of course, zips off to Mega-City to foil the Joker's game.

The alliance between Batman and Dredd makes sense this time, and the action keeps moving as the body count rises.

I'm still not planning to scour the shelves looking for more on Judge Dredd, but the Batman makes Die Laughing every bit as entertaining as he can. The Ultimate Riddle, on the other hand, is worth reading if you've nothing else to do at the moment, but it's not something you should sacrifice too much of your time over.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 6 April 2003

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