Classic Comics Cavalcade: Gotham’s Most Dangerous Game In ‘Batman Vs. Predator’

The crossover is one of the most timeless tropes of comic books. In 1991, DC Comics and Dark Horse teamed for one of the most unexpected crossovers in history, and in so doing created an absolute classic of the genre – Batman Vs. Predator.

Original cover by Chris Warner & Gregory Wright

The brutal and violent Predators (or Yautja if you want to be technical), stars of the film series, probably would seem like a poor fit for a superhero crossover. After all, the film series was extremely violent, and who would want to see their favorite heroes hunted down and violently killed in a crossover? (Yes, I know Archie Vs Predator exists and is incredibly gruesome.) However, this story was early in Dark Horse’s time with licensed comics, and the Predator comics they were producing were immensely popular. Combining this world with another was appealing.

The Dark Knight was a perfect fit to battle the violent alien hunters, especially when the violence the story calls for can be taken out on some of Gotham’s most unsavory. However, it’s not just that to push the series into legendary status. The creative team DC Comics put together consisted of some of the most legendary creators in comics- Dave Gibbons, Andy Kubert, Adam Kubert, and Sherilyn van Valkenburgh (a color artist who you should know if you don’t). (Note: The digital version of the book I read has removed the credits, and no Amazon listing or wiki article about this book that I could find credited the letterer. It might have been one of the Kuberts, but it was unclear. But they did a great job.)

Now, naturally this is a Batman comic in the ‘90’s, and like I mentioned, this couldn’t be the gory, R-rated horror action story that many Predator fans would hope for. Gibbons knew that, and he still wrote the closest he could come to that, with an extremely violent and frightening tale of Gotham under siege. The Predator arrives and begins trying to find Gotham’s champion, while Batman teams with Gordon to find this see-through killer.

Really, this series could have been a minimal effort affair to sell. However, Gibbons writes a pitch perfect Batman story (surprisingly only one of two he wrote that I can find), with a great sense of tension and horror. He also shows that Batman is outclassed by taking him out of commission for much of the second issue after their first knock-down, drag-out fight- one the Predator wins easily. It raises the stakes for the final conflict in a way that few Batman stories are willing to do.

Though this is still early in the Kuberts’ careers, they create a Gotham that’s moody and atmospheric, and the fight layouts are just incredible. It’s easy to see why Andy was drawn back to Gotham 15 years later after his legendary X-Men run. When you add van Valkenburgh’s painted colors, it makes for one of the most visually exciting Batman stories published in the last thirty years.

At this point, these crossovers may seem like a novelty, but it holds up better than a lot of Batman stories from this era do, and vastly better than most inter-company crossovers. This is just a damn good Batman story, and worth tracking down.

2017 Collected edition cover by Mike Mignola

Batman Vs. Predator is collected as a part of DC/Dark Horse Crossovers: Batman Vs. Predator (which also includes the two sequel series).

The crossover is one of the most timeless tropes of comic books. In 1991, DC Comics and Dark Horse teamedCOMICONRead More

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