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If there is anything I love about the comic book format in relation to creative fiction, it is the fact that the said format allows certain crossover match-ups (that could not be realized in movie or TV format) to happen. In this case, I’m talking about having the science fiction monster warrior Predator in conflict with Batman.
Historically, in the early 1990s, DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics teamed up to publish the highly memorable crossover Batman versus Predator with the creative talents of Dave Gibbons, Andy Kubert and Adam Kubert.
The two publishers did not stop there. In 1995, they teamed up again to bring the two pop culture icons together but with a brand new story, a new creative team and with the involvement of the Huntress to support Batman. I was in college back in 1995 and you can’t imagine how surprised I was to see the first issue of the 2nd Batman-Predator crossover displayed on the shelf of the comic book store I visited. I was surprised because there was not much media spotlight for it in the comic book industry magazines I read.
That being said, here is a look back at Batman versus Predator II: Bloodmatch #1, published in 1995 by DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics with a story written by Doug Moench and drawn by Paul Gulacy.
The story begins in the city where three guys are about to complete an illegal drugs deal by the dock. As one of the dealers fires his gun at the other party, Batman breaks into the scene to bring him down and pressures him to reveal the location of Terraro. As the downed thug tries to shoot Batman, an arrow fired by the Huntress hits his arm which caught the Dark Knight by surprise.
After knocking the thug out, Batman and the Huntress talk. It turns out both of them are after Terraro. The Huntress leaves as Batman remains to do some detective work on the three men.
Meanwhile from a far distance, a Predator reviews archived video footage of Bruce Wayne/Batman’s final encounter with a Predator (as told in the final issue of the first Batman Versus Predator series) and listens to the audio recording. The Predator is preparing himself to fight Batman by doing research (including familiarizing himself with how Bruce Wayne and his butler Alfred sound like) and he uses his deadly disc to cut off the head of a statue resembling the Dark Knight…
Let me start with the story. This comic book essentially tells a crime story mixed with some sci-fi elements. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of exposition used to help build-up the expected conflict between Batman and the Predator. That’s not to say that the story is hollow. In fact, I still found it compelling even though some of the spotlight was spent on the Huntress who is clearly involved in the crime tale. To say the least, the Huntress adds variety to what could have been a typical Batman-does-all-the-detective-work story.
Batman, who by this time gained tremendous knowledge about the Predator, turns out to be targeted as “dead meat” by a gang leader and it’s nice to see him solve the crime problem while being at odds with the Huntress whom he finds to be too eager and reckless.
As for the Predator, unsurprisingly the alien warrior appears sparingly but that’s not a problem at all. In fact, the writer implemented the spotlight on the Predator without ever overdoing it which added nicely into the anticipation of the so-called rematch with Batman. I also liked how the Predator was portrayed in dealing with the criminal and law elements of the city.
As for the visuals, this one is a mixed bag for me. Firstly, I like the more vibrant and stylish use of colors which made this comic book look radically different from the dark, gritty and less colorful visuals of its predecessor. Secondly, Paul Gulacy’s art on drawing people lack punch and consistency. There were times that his drawings of Batman and Huntress were good, other times not. His work on the Predator is good, however. What Gulacy excelled in was drawing action scenes which are not only dynamic in presentation but also went strong with the violence (lots of bloody scenes, weapons penetrating the body, etc.) which reminded me a lot about the first two Predator movies. Gulacy’s take on the Batmobile looks corny.
Way back in 1995, I enjoyed reading Batman versus Predator II: Bloodmatch #1 the day I first bought it. Today, I still find it enjoyable to read. It has a nice mix of suspense and spectacle, and the creative team was granted a lot of creative freedom to tell the story with mature readers in mind. The story was well paced and the build-up was worth the time.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Batman versus Predator II: Bloodmatch #1 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $23 while the near-mint copy of the promotional version with a poster costs $40.
Overall, Batman versus Predator II: Bloodmatch #1 (1995) is highly recommended!
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