|Batman/Judge Dredd: Judgment on Gotham|
Judgment on Gotham, cover art by Simon Bisley
Mean Machine Angel
|Page count||60 pages|
Batman/Judge Dredd: Judgment on Gotham is the first of four Batman and Judge Dredd crossover comic books, published by DC Comics and Fleetway in 1991. It was written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, with art by Simon Bisley.
Judge Death makes a dimensional jump to Gotham City, murdering two lovers and a police officer. Batman defeats Death, who flees in spirit form. Among the remains of his host body, Batman finds a dimensional jump belt that he accidentally activates, transporting him to Mega-City One, where is confronted by Mean Machine Angel. As Mean Machine attacks Batman, they are both confronted by Judge Dredd. Mean Machine flees to Gotham using the belt, then wanders into the city looking for Judge Death.
In Mega-City One, Dredd arrests Batman for possession of illegal weapons (the contents of his utility belt) and accuses him of vigilantism. Batman is frustrated at his inability to explain himself to Dredd, until telepath Judge Anderson scans Batman's mind to ensure that Death is not "hiding" in his brain, and explains Death's nature and motives to Batman. Batman insists on returning to Gotham immediately, and Dredd insists on Batman serving a twenty-year sentence for his "crimes" first. Batman breaks his bonds and punches Dredd to the floor, before being subdued by several other Judges. Anderson breaks Batman out of custody and drives him to a functioning dimensional gate. Dredd calls for them to be stopped and, when this fails, follows them to Gotham.
In Gotham, Batman's enemy the Scarecrow, and his henchman, Benny, break into the City Morgue to steal the raw materials for hallucinogenic 'fear-toxin'. Promised a 'feast of fear' in exchange, the Scarecrow becomes partners with Judge Death. After killing Benny, Death attempts to turn on Scarecrow, who stops him with a dose of his fear toxin (exposing Death to visions of cute, fluffy bunnies and My Little Ponies) and directs him to a heavy metal concert featuring a band called Living Death. Meanwhile, Mean Machine demolishes a bar and is directed to the same concert.
As Death slaughters the heavy metal band, Batman, Anderson, and Dredd appear. In the battle that follows, Death is on the verge of killing Dredd when Batman uses a batarang to destroy his physical body while Anderson imprisons his spirit in her mind. Mean Machine, stuck in a berserk frenzy that demolishes the stage, is subdued after a pinpoint shot from Dredd destroys the mood-controlling dial on his head. Scarecrow is likewise captured.
Dredd prepares to take Anderson and Mean Machine back to Mega-City One, and insists that Batman come along to complete his "sentence". They are close to blows when Anderson persuades Dredd to drop the charges against Batman, especially since she warns that Death must be delivered to proper containment before he successfully breaks free from her mind. As they depart, Dredd admits that Batman is a "bit of a tough guy", implying some respect.
In this version the Scarecrow is given a ghoulish, almost phantom-like look, as compared to his contemporary appearance in DC comics wherein his costume resembled that of conventional scarecrows. Unmasked, Batman has a number of distinctive grey hairs.
Alec Worley, who wrote a trilogy of novellas chronicling Cassandra Anderson's first year as a Judge, wrote in his foreword to the omnibus edition that he first became captivated by her character based on her appearance in Judgement on Gotham, noting that Bisley had chosen to draw her as "more like a musclebound Tori Amos than the chic Debbie Harry lookalike she had been under Brian Bolland."
I also organised more professional press conferences before major signings and national comic book signing tours, which hadn’t really been done on a big scale in this country before. I remember the Judge Dredd vs. Batman graphic novel signing launch at the Virgin Megastore at Oxford Circus in London amazed even the police with the numbers that lined up around the block to get their book signed by Simon Bisley, John Wagner and Alan Grant. The store manager said it was a bigger draw than when David Bowie had done a signing the month previously.
Other Batman/Judge Dredd crossovers
This was the first of four joint adventures, all by the same writers – the others were:
- Batman/Judge Dredd: Vendetta in Gotham (1993) Art by Cam Kennedy
- Batman/Judge Dredd: The Ultimate Riddle (1995) Art by Carl Critchlow and Dermot Power
- Batman/Judge Dredd: Die Laughing #1-2 (1998) Art by Glenn Fabry and Jim Murray