Crossing Over

I usually enjoy crossovers. Characters from other media appearing in something I’m reading/listening to/watching. It really all depends on whether the characters crossing over are treated correctly. Usually, if the original writers/artists/actors are involved, it tends to work. Look at the multi-Doctor stories, or the re-appearance of old companions (which really isn’t done enough – I would love to see how previous companions would react to the Thirteenth Doctor) in Doctor Who.

It’s particularly exciting in music. Look at Run DMC and Aerosmith, Anthrax and Public Enemy and so many others. As someone who likes a bit of Killswitch Engage, I’m VERY interested in hearing the collaboration between Jesse Leach and Howard Jones. This is why the whole phenomenon of the “supergroup” is always so successful.

Unfortunately when it’s not quite right, it can be something of a disaster. Take, for example, the first couple of stories in the Predator vs Aliens vs Judge Dredd crossover volume.

As someone with a large amount of love for and knowledge of the various sets of characters involved, I was really looking forward to reading this. I mean, a Predator hunting Judges in The Big Meg? John Wagner, one of Old Stoney-Face’s co-creators writing? What’s not to like?

For a start off, the colouring. It’s too bright and shiny, especially when teamed up with the artwork being used. It looks like a Robert Crumb pastiche rather than a serious bit of Dredd or Predator. Mega City One also looks far too small. It doesn’t feel like a city that stretches from the Canadian Border to the tip of Florida and out to the mid West, with individual blocks that have a similar population to a small city in the modern era. It certainly doesn’t look like over 200,000,000 people live there, neither does it look to be something like 130 years in the future, 60-ish years after a nuclear war and 30-odd years after a devastating attack by a foreign power.

Did the editors not give the artist any reference material? Did the artist not do ANY research before he got started? OK, he got the Judge uniforms, Lawmasters and Lawgivers right, but anything beyond that was really not The Big Meg.

As for the Undercity… again, it’s not big enough. It’s a New York that was concreted over. It’s neither dark enough nor has the sense of scale other artists would give it. Generally, everything looks too contemporary and too “normal”. All the vehicles look like 20th century technology. So do the ancilliary characters.

As for the script… well, either there was a LOT of editorial interference or John Wagner REALLY phoned it in (which just isn’t like him at all). When Dredd says “Damn” instead of “Drokk”… in fact, Dredd showing any real extreme of emotion at all is poor characterisation. I don’t remember Harry Callahan (who Dredd is based on) doing anything like that.

Like I said. Either John Wagner phoned it in, or the editors at Dark Horse rewrote almost everything, and don’t get it.

So… Judge Dredd vs Predator? Very poor.

Much more like it!

Judge Dredd vs Aliens: Incubus is a massive step forward. Andy Diggle’s script is much more 2000AD, but that’s not a surprise since he is a former Tharg… erm… assistant to The Mighty One. Henry Flint’s artwork, although from an earlier stage in his career than the present, shows his understanding of both Dredd’s world and how the xenomorph works.

Again, though, it’s let down by the colouring. It’s far too bright. If you compare it to the colouring used over Flint’s art in a story arc like The Small Room, THAT is how it SHOULD have been done. Both Dredd and the Alien character sets benefit from a more muted pallet. Bright and shiny doesn’t work and although it’s not a dealbreaker, it’s something that is far too noticible. The best colouring… you don’t “notice” it. It enhances the linework rather than overwhelming it. I wonder if, since it was published in 2000AD, and is therefore in continuity, so it DID happen as far as Dredd and his colleagues are concerned, the colouring was different for the Dark Horse version (which is what this collection is published from).

Judge Dredd vs Alien… better. Much better, but with something of a stumbling block, probably caused by the different tastes of our colonial cousins.

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