Rebellion have announced a new crossover between 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine for September 2023. Taking place across 2000 AD Prog 2350 and Judge Dredd Megazine #460, the crossover imagines what a 1980s merger of the war comic Battle Action into science fiction anthology 2000 AD would have looked like. All in bumper issues sitting at 48- and 132-pages apiece.

battle action crossover
Wraparound cover by Henry Flint

The elevator pitch, according to the PR:

“It’s a clash of the ages – what if two of Britain’s most famous comic books had merged at the height of their popularity in the 1980s?”

Creators involved in the Battle Action crossover include Ken Neimand, Alex de Campi, Gordon Rennie, Arthur Wyatt, Chris Weston, Staz Johnson. As for what characters and series likely to be appearing from Battle Action (with a 2000 AD twist) – there will be El Mestizo, Major Eazy, Death Game 2049, Hellman of Hammer Force, Forgotten Army, Dredger, Rat Pack, Darkie’s Mob, and Johnny Red.

Mergers were a common practice in British newsstand comics, with lesser performing titles being merged with better performers – the controversial Action (following a panic-induced lobotomy) was merged into Battle Picture Weekly to form Battle Action, previously another title – Valiant – had also been merged into Battle Picture Weekly following an unsuccessful revival attempt. As for 2000 AD, several titles (with their characters and strips) were merged into the comic – including Tornado and rival scifi anthology Starlord (after barely six months on the market). This practice was euphemistically called “hatch, match and dispatch”.

2000 AD editor Matt Smith said:

“The history of comics on the UK’s newsstand is marked by the practice of merging titles, where two great anthologies combine. In the case of Starlord joining 2000 AD, it meant the Prog gained Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters. When Tornado’s Black Hawk joined the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, it led to a radical reinvention of the strip.”

Smith also describes the genesis of the idea of a Battle Action themed crossover:

“Writer Ken Niemand suggested to me a special asking what would’ve happened if Battle Action merged with 2000 AD in the early eighties, with its war stories getting something of a science-fiction/fantasy makeover, and I couldn’t resist!

Major Eazy, Hellman of Hammer Force, El Mestizo, Dredger – all these great characters get the 2000 AD treatment in Prog 2350, courtesy of the likes of Niemand, Simon Coleby, Chris Weston, Dan Cornwell, Jake Lynch and more. And over in Judge Dredd Megazine #460, we’ve got Dreddworld reinventions of Rat Pack, Darkie’s Mob and Johnny Red – it’s a ‘What if…’ that fans of both Battle and 2000 AD won’t want to miss.”

Battle Action has been experiencing a revival at Rebellion, which has been building on the growing success from reviving titles of yesteryear – not least with Monster Fun, which switches to a more frequent monthly schedule from July. In 2022, Garth Ennis spearheaded a one-off special return of the vintage title (and its fondly remembered characters) alongside artists like Patrick Goddard, P.J. Holden, John Higgins, and the late Kevin O’Neill. The positive reception of the warranted a follow up with a five-issue monthly miniseries (the first two issues out now), once again led by Garth Ennis, but joined by other writers – John Wagner, Dan Abnett, Rob Williams, and Torunn Grønbekk.

This is not the first flagship crossover for Rebellion. Last September featured a zombie-themed crossover between 2000 AD Prog 2300 and Judge Dredd Megazine 448, which had a zombie storyline overtake the regular anthology strips (and even featured the surprise return of John Wagner & Ian Gibson’s Robo-Hunter Sam Slade and Ian Edginton & Simon DavisAmpney Crucis.

Here are some early preview pages:

Battle Action crossover
Nick Dyer’s work on Death Race 2049
Chris Weston’s take on El Mestizo
Nick Percival page for ‘Judge Dredd: Return to Billy Carter’
Simon Coleby page for ‘Judge Dredd: Juves Rule OK!’

As last year, the Battle Action crossover sits before the next jumping-on issue of the weekly anthology. 2000 AD Prog 2351 will feature the start of a new Judge Dredd storyline by Rob Williams and PJ Holden; the return of Dan Abnett & Richard Elson’s Feral & Foe and Helium by Ian Edginton & D’Israeli; a mystery story called Poison; plus a special face off between two classic characters written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Henry Flint.

Diamond codes for the crossover issues are JUL231919 & JUL231920