Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Batman / Judge Dredd: The Ultimate Riddle (1995)

Authors: John Wagner / Alan Grant | Artists: Carl Critchlow / Dermot Power | Page Count: 48

I seek no ‘sweet release’ from this life yet…

The third Batman/Dredd crossover is slightly better than the previous one, but that’s thanks mostly to Critchlow and Power’s wonderful art, because the actual story is one that comics fans will have read a hundred times before.

There seems to have been an effort made to balance the work more evenly between the two protagonists this time that partially works given the setting, but ironically the setting is one of the weak aspects of the work; it lacks the dangerous unpredictability of Mega-City One or the dark majesty of Gotham.

Dredd’s refusal to give up his primary concerns even when confronted with a more immediate and dangerous one is another of the reasons why it works better than before. Most people in his situation would experience an internal conflict as a result of the external one, but his insistence that the law be adhered to at all times provides a stability upon which is layered some typically cold-hearted 'Dredd style' black comedy.

Batman gets to put into practice the ‘Detective’ part of his nickname, instead of just being an iconic ‘Dark Knight’ silhouette.

Both men are forced to rely on their unique strengths to see them through the hardship, but in very different ways. It helps build the mutual respect/hate relationship that each feels for the other, but it still doesn't come close to matching the tension of the first book.

The changeover in art duties partway through the story isn't as jarring as it could've been. Both artists have a similar kind of style and use a similar colour palette, so the casual reader may not even notice the difference.

3 grudges out of 5

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