Previously on Drokk!: Two years’ worth of Judge Dredd strips have passed, but things are only now starting to congeal when it comes to working out just who the title character is for both creators and readers, it seems, with John Wagner taking over the strip essentially full-time as writer with the length (and wonderful) “The Day The Law Died” cycle of stories. With Wagner installed permanently as the man in charge of Mega-City One, what lies ahead?

0:00:00-0:01:54: We speed through an introduction, and let the people know that we’re covering Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 3 this time around, which covers material from 2000 AD Progs 116 through 154, from 1979 through 1980. Really, we’re pretty expedient and impatient this time.

0:01:55-0:17:46: Although Vol. 3 is a collection of short stories — the longest continued narrative is just five episodes — there’s a throughline to be found, and we talk about what we both think is the most obvious candidate: That this is the volume where Mega-City One is solidified as a location, and what that means. (Spoilers: Jeff makes the apt point that the best on-screen depiction of Mega-City One is arguably Springfield in the monorail episode of The Simpsons.) Also, mention of the “Vienna” episode of the strip, which starts the book off, gets us talking about Dredd as an emotional being, and what that means to the strip as a whole, with references to romance comics and Gil Kane in the offing. Does John Wagner have a better idea of what Mega-City One is than he does of who and what Dredd is by this point?

0:17:47-0:26:31: A brief discussion of what it must have been like to be reading these stories when they appeared — not only for the variety and quality of Wagner’s writing, but also weekly art from the likes of Ron Smith, Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon — brings us back to the idea of Dredd as the natural successor to Will Eisner’s The Spirit, and the ways in which the two strips are similar. (And the ways in which they’re dissimilar, as well.)

0:26:32-0:30:31: Mention of Jeff’s love of Ron Smith leads us to a very short digression about the visual evolution of the Dredd strip through the three years to date, and from the Ezquerra/McMahon aesthetic to the more refined Bolland/Ron Smith look, and what that means as a whole.

0:30:32-0:38:17: And then we’re back to talking about the writing — namely, the status quo of Mega-City One, and how the Judges interact with the citizens. We talk about two foundational lines of dialogue that set the stage for everything that happens afterwards, and quite how stacked the odds are against any MC-1 citizen for not having a bad experience with the Judges at some point in their lives. The future, it seems, isn’t just unkind to regular people: It wants to try and break them.

0:38:18-0:53:19: This leads on to a theory I have about this volume offering an unexpected reason for Dredd to be the series’ protagonist — that he’s an aberration as a Judge because he repeatedly is shown to embrace characteristics that are seen as being reason enough to make Judges retire, but is nonetheless successful as a Judge despite (or because of) that. In discussing this, we end up talking about a story in which Dredd deals with animal experimentation, in what Jeff describes as the perfect blend of “radical politics and silver age DC storytelling tropes.” Oh, and John Cooper’s cat drawings, which are uncannily good.

0:53:20-1:06:34: With Jeff having talked about the animal experimentation story being one of his favorites in this volume, we run down the other contenders, which includes an early example of GoFundMe, the first appearance of Judge Death and more — which turns into a discussion about the sense of both continuity and consistency of location that Wagner manages to create around Mega-City One and Judge Dredd the strip in this volume, as well as the tonal variety consistently employed by the series at this point.

1:06:35-1:17:08: We move onto some of my favorite stories, and also return to the idea that the citizens of Mega-City One are doomed to failure simply by living in the time and place that they do, with Jeff dropping a reference to a 1976 novel about man’s inhumanity to… well, everything, really, called Dr. Rat by William Kotzwinkle. Was this a reference on Wagner? Who can tell, but it doubtlessly was less grim as the Umpty Candy story, which both Jeff and I found ourselves fascinated by, not least of all because of how Mr. Ump was dressed, and the moral of the story…

1:17:09-1:29:14: From the sublime to the shit, as we talk about Pat Mills’ sole contribution to the volume, the less-than-good “Blood of Satanus” three-parter; this leads into some chat about the fact that we both felt like Mills was more present in the book than he actually was, and what the legacy of Pat Mills on Dredd actually might be. Come for that, stay for the mention of Henry Ford the Horse, of course, of course.

1:29:15-1:38:37: This volume turned out to be John Wagner’s moment to shine as a solo writer — which will happen again, of course, throughout Dredd history — and I wonder as to his method in writing such a long game-type of a comic strip. We talk about the unique position Wagner is in with Dredd, and also how it allows for a strange sense of realism unavailable in almost every other comic property.

1:38:38-end: Coming in hot as we try to wrap things up, Jeff and I both talk about whether or not we’d recommend this volume to newcomers, tease what’s happening in the next episode of Drokk! and do the traditional mention of our Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram accounts, not to mention the Patron that’s responsible for this whole thing. It’s a lot, I know, but Grud thanks you for reading and listening as ever.

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0:01-02:38:  Greetings from Graeme “Technically, I’m Sick?” McMillan and Jeff “Techncally I’m Sick, Too!!” Lester, where we both feel like a pair of draggy, draggy asses.

02:38-9:12: But don’t worry, we don’t let the dragginess carry over to our discussions, we move right into a discussion of the film Shazam!, which Graeme has seen opening weekend (while Jeff still hasn’t seen the other Captain Marvel film.)  We talk a little about the film in a way that you should consider spoilers at least in regards to one scene with Dr. Sivana (around 4:46 to 5:36) but is just a general overview, otherwise.

9:12-49:11: We both also saw “Us,” and since it’s relatively rare for both of us to see the same movie within a week of each other (much less a horror movie) we talk about Jordan Peele’s overstuffed sophomore film.  We talk about how we admired it more than we loved it but both ended up haunted by it in different ways—Graeme by the Minnie Riperton song (see above), and Jeff by one of the theories about the metaphor of The Tethered.  There’s a lot to unpack, and a lot to appreciate, but we still get squirmy about saying we loved it.  You should consider this discussion one big spoiler pretty much, so pass it on by if you haven’t seen the film yet. Also discussed:  The Blair Witch Project; Stephen King’s Silver Bullet; the new Twilight Zone and CBS All Access; the preshow experience; Graeme’s new hero, and more.

49:11-1:05:31: Next week is a skip week because Graeme is attending Star Wars Celebration.  We talk a bit about what Graeme is looking forward to attending, what he’s dreading, and more. Discussed: Jeff’s love of failed immersion; the amazing Buck Rogers Burger Station in Glasgow; Tom Sawyer’s Island; The Wizarding World of Harvey Porter; and more.
1:05:31-1:20:49: I’m too embarrassed to tell you how we got from those topics to discussing The New Gods movie vs. The Eternals movie—I’ll let you listen and figure it out for youself—but we did and since Graeme has read a terrifying amount of New Gods, we discuss the top three pitfalls to avoid when doing a New Gods comic. But before we that, we discuss recent news about DC’s upcoming DCeased.

1:20:49-1:58:10: You probably heard the news about the DC Universe app deciding to go full “Marvel Unlimited” with their comics selection and make a total of 20,000 comics available, supposedly by the end of this month.  Jeff signed up for DC Universe app after hearing the news.  Here, we talk about his experiences with the app (and the only thing he’s bothered to watch with the app so far), what it might mean for DC Universe to add that many comics at once, the difference between having a curated collection and having curators; peak streaming; and more.
1:58:10-2:03:33: Comics! Or, well, a comic.  But a very good one, according to Jeff!  It’s The Secret Voice, Vol. 1 by Zack Soto, and it’s the indy cartoonist epic fantasy you didn’t know you needed.  Jeff throws around a lot of descriptions to try and capture this very unique volume, but maybe he gets closest when he describes it as being like “Michel Fiffe’s Bone”?  (Although thanks to an awesome Twitter thread of Zack’s
2:03:33-2:12:05: Jeff also read (while high as a kite) half of vol. 2 of Batman and the Outsiders by Mike W. Barr, Jim Aparo, Trevor Von Eeden, Bill Willingham.  Also discussed: JLA Detroit; Sgt. Rock; DC Universe wishlist items again; Al Ewing and the latest issue of The Immortal Hulk; and more.
2:12:05-end:  Closing comments? Yes, because Graeme has, for the first time in a while, transformed once again into The Lord of the Flies!  Look for us on Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
NEXT WEEK: Skip week!  Imagine Graeme being trapped inside the Darth Vader VR Experience while you peruse vol. 3 of  Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files!  (I know I will…)
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The transformation of DC Universe from, essentially, a TV and movie delivery system with some comics to what will be DC’s version of Marvel Unlimited with some TV shows and movies is something that I’m sure Jeff and I will be talking about in the next episode, if only because it’s an announcement that finally got Jeff to sign up for the service. That said, I’m going to take a few minutes to share some thoughts right now, just because. Follow along under the jump.
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0:01-12:20:  Greetings from Graeme “Can I Say That?” McMillan and Jeff “I Certainly Can’t!” Lester, where of course a comics podcast opens with a brief discussion of reality television.  We also discuss slow radio, make wild promises of Patreon extras we hopefully we will never deliver, notes for Drokk!!, net worth and boy bands, the florida man meme, and more.
12:20-25:07: Drokk!! Ep. 2 is out in the wilds, and once again we’re in awe of the commentary skills of Voord 99.  But he has a question for Graeme, one about Dredd and…Brexit?!  Discussed:  Dredd; Brexit; San Francisco; a few post-Drokk! comments about “The Day The Law Died,” and more.
25:07-47:00:  Graeme saw Captain Marvel! Jeff has not.  We have a pretty spoiler-free convo about the movie (at least so it seems to Jeff editing it now).  Discussed: unearned moments; blah trailers; what will be the first Marvel movie to fail/underperform; movies shot back to back; Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and the Six Million Dollar Man; the Disney/Fox merger and some of the horrible insanity; leprechaun porn; and more.
47:00-54:00: Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men is a thing! Apparently?  We talk about the announcement of House of X and Powers of X.  Is the savior of the X-Men Marvel’s last remaining architect?
54:00-1:05:39: Jeff is aware a lot of his opinions on Marvel are probably worthless just because he bought
Avengers: No Road Home #6 only because Conan and The Scarlet Witch team up and have adventures.  He talks about that as well as a previous issue of Jason Aaron’s Conan run; the surprising tie-in to Al Ewing’s excellent Immortal Hulk run; and the problem with having opinions.
1:05:39-1:14:03:  Graeme read/re-read all of Royals by Al Ewing, Jonboy Meyers, Kevin Libranda, Javier Rodriguez, and others, and talks about that cosmic Inhumans epic and its mixture of epic scope and humanity. (Because Jeff hasn’t read it, he ganked this lovely double-page spread from the latest Immortal Hulk instead.
1:14:03-1:24:17:  Other stuff Jeff wanted to talk about the comics he’s read over the last few weeks, some of which Graeme has read (and recommended!).  Discussed: Assassin Nation #1; Invisible Kingdom #1, and we talk a ton about Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura.  (Graeme sputtered out after Vol. 4 a few weeks ago, and Jeff just got there.)  Graeme was blown away by volume 2 but had diminishing returns—we discuss why.
1:24:17-1:36:42: For our latest installment of “Battlin’ About Batman,” we discusss Batman #67 by Tom King, Lee Weeks, Jorge Fornes, and Lovern Kindzierski.  Warning: it’s not much of a battle as we appreciated this very offbeat issue and take some time to give it up to the amazing Lee Weeks and talk about its possible comic antecedents.
1:36:42-1:51:04: While Jeff is all blah-blah-blah about DC titles, Graeme has been reading old Marvel comics and also Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau, a graphic novel about baking and young love.  Sounds pretty excellent.  He certainly seems a little less surly about it than Jeff does about Wandering Island, Vol. 2 by Kenji Tsuruta.  Also discussed:  assorted manga (really!) and the neophytes leading the neophytes.  [Also: Jeff talks about all the people who’ve read more manga than him, and completely forgot to mention all the well-read Whatnauts who’ve recommended some terrific stuff on Twitter and in our comments.  You people have turned me on to some terrific stuff!]
1:51:04-1:53:15:  Hey, those of you who don’t have DC Universe and/or the cash but are interested in it should check out the service’s plans for Batman Day, which includes a day of free access and a single month for eighty cents?  That sounds…pretty good, right?  And if you’ve been following our Tumblr, you know there’s been some really neat additions to their comics library.
1:53:15-2:04:52: Is this…closing comments?!  Not quite, because we do want to talk about AWA Comics, and how underwhelmed we are.  With bonus comments for Hibbs, thanks to this comments thread at ComicsBeat, and our memories of the “best” of Jemas-era Marvel.
2:04:52-end: Okay, so now,  is this….closing comments?!  Yes, we do believe it is!  (In part because even we don’t want to bother with Tierigate.)   Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
NEXT WEEK: Skip week! So start digging in on that next Case File!
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Previously on Drokk!: The world of Judge Dredd began with the stories collected in Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 1, an uneven collection that introduced the basics but didn’t seem to know what to do with the character beyond that — which led to Dread being promoted to being Moon Sheriff for a few months within the first year of the strip. Where would things go after that? It turns out, to Hell and back. (Well, the West Coast, which some East Coasters would consider Hell.)

0:00:00-0:02:44: We return and begin again, with an introduction, a reference to Jan Michael Vincent that sees me reference this obituary from the New York Times. We’re covering Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 2 this episode, which itself contains the Dredd strips from 2000 AD prog 61-115. There’s a lot to deal with.

0:02:45-0:18:29: Before we dive into the stories themselves, Jeff references this amazing comment on the last episode from Voord 99, which we then riff off for a few minutes, including the thought that Dredd isn’t actually a strip about a future America, but a strip about American media and the stories America tells about itself; I also share the connection I share with Dredd co-creator John Wagner, and the newspaper story that made me feel better about my hometown.

0:18:30-0:33:48: We attempt to talk about the first of the two massive storylines contained in Vol. 2, but quickly get sidetracked into a conversation about the differences between Pat Mills’ and John Wagner’s Dredd, and the lengths to which Mills goes to remove Dredd from his natural environment in order to get the character to work for him.

0:33:49-1:26:15: When we actually get to “The Cursed Earth” — which runs 25 parts, although four episodes are missing in the Case Files for reasons we cover; we also talk about those episodes — it emerges that both of us have a fair amount of reservations about it, not least of which the fact that it’s less a story than a framework for a bunch of different stories, and one that neither makes sense per se, nor pays off in the end. (It is, instead, Chekhov’s Gun, but only if that gun fails to fire twice.) That’s not to say there’s not a lot to enjoy about it, including the role of the movie Damnation Alley as an inspiration, the strength of two of the “censored” episodes, the fact that Pat Mills seemingly invented Jurassic Park 12 years before the original novel was released (something that Mills himself denies, as Jeff gets into), and just how lurid and pulpy the whole thing is. Also discussed: The totemic nature of Dredd’s preferred mode of transportation, the story’s two main supporting characters, Spikes Harvey Rotten and Tweak (with Jeff schooling me on why my dislike for the latter is doing a disservice to both him and Pat Mills), and just how underwhelming the finale is, not to mention the possible reasons why that might be the case. Oh, and we also reference the in-canon “apology” strip that appeared after one of the controversial now-“censored” episodes, which is reproduced below for those who are curious:

1:26:16-1:37:26: The suggestion that “The Cursed Earth” was truncated leads to a brief discussion about whether or not the underwhelming nature of the story’s climax was the result of editorial mandate or exhaustion on the creators’ parts. Was Mills just done with Dredd by the time he reached the end, or did editors want to wrap it up in order to let John Wagner take over? (I also tease something that we’ll get to in two episodes’ time, when we finally reach “The Judge Child Quest,” because I am bad at foreshadowing, apparently.)

1:37:27-1:44:20: From the ridiculous to the sublime, we move from “The Cursed Earth” into the extended Judge Cal storyline, which sees John Wagner take over as the primary writer on the strip — a position he has essentially held ever since; he’s doing it under the “John Howard” pseudonym with this story, though — and basically give everything from Judge Dredd to Mega-City One itself a quiet reboot. It begins with a three-part prologue that doubles as a fake-out, however, and Jeff and I talk about the red herring, the wonderful Silver Age quality of the three-parter, and also how racist Wagner’s Judge Giant looks forty years later. (No, really; why should a Judge be talking jive?)

1:44:21-2:29:45: “The Day The Law Died” transforms the Dredd strip on multiple levels, taking it into new areas of satire and tonally transforming it from sci-fi pulp into something more operatic and, honestly, darker. It starts with an unforgiving first episode and just doesn’t stop until things finally wrap up. We discuss all kinds of things, not least of which Wagner’s mastery over the serial format (and the 2000 AD episode length); what the reader expects from the Judges as a narrative device, and how easily we believe that they can be used for evil; the origins of the term “Scrotnig”; Judge Cal being the anti-Dredd, being as self-indulgent as Dredd is self-controlled; the Donald Trump parallels that utterly derailed us; Fergee and why Jeff and I don’t get the joke; the arrival to the strip of Ron Smith and the visual evolution of the character and the strip across the two years it had existed by this point, and much, much more. Suffice to say, we really loved this storyline.

2:29:46-2:38:37: As we try to wrap things up relatively quickly — we had, after all, been going on for more than two hours by this point, we reach what might be Jeff’s first-ever Dredd story (featuring a reference to Whispering Bob Harris of all people), and take the very shortest trip into the question of whether or not John Wagner is sympathetic to the Judges as a concept. I mean, surely not, but yet…!

2:38:38-end: Finally, we discuss overall impressions of this volume, whether or not we’d recommend it as a good starting point to a Dredd newcomer — the phrase “kind of like huffing a lot of paint and then reading a bunch of Jack Kirby’s comics” might be used — talk about our favorite episodes in the book and then get to bringing everything to a timely close with mentions of our Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter and Patreon. We’ll be back in a month with Vol 3 of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files; until then, thank you for listening and reading, and never forget: Easy the Ferg.

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Just a quick announcement to let you know we managed to get ourselves added to Spotify’s voluminous podcast directory!  We’re currently a little hard to find, what with being new to the neighborhood and all, but here’s a helpful link:

(I’ll put that in as straight text in the comments just to be safe.)

We hope this makes it easier for you to disagree with us, and/or facilitate you yelling answers to our rhetorical questions when it’s late at night and/or you’re on the bus trying not to look crazy!

 

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When Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti launched the Marvel Knights imprint that would revitalize, reshape, and (basically) rescue Marvel, they grabbed four properties to launch with. Three of them were massive successes, whether critical, commercial, or both. The other one was The Punisher.

Written by Christopher Golden & Tom Sniegoski with penciled art from horror comics legend Bernie Wrightson, this four-issue limited series made the bold choice to take the Punisher out of his familiar Death Wish-esque milieu and put him in the middle of a war between heaven and hell. This take on the character made such a middling impression that Garth Ennis would retcon it away with a single-panel shrug, and Ennis’s rendition became the one that people refer to as “Marvel Knights Punisher.”

When these issues made their (extremely belated) debut on Marvel Unlimited almost the same day as Graeme and Jeff’s discussion of what makes a successful Punisher series in Wait What episode 264, it seemed like fate. So Matt suggested that all three of us should read this legendary misfire for the first time.

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0:01-23:08:  Greetings from Graeme “Burp!” McMillan and Jeff “Saliva!” Lester, where your two faithful podcasters are here at your service, despite problems with taxes, and talking, and breathing.  Thanks to tax prep, we look back at the state of digital affairs for Jeff’s library with talk about the amazing month of March and April 2018; do a quick review of the state of comic streaming services we use and what’s changed about them; more singing of the praises of Hoopla (for comics, anyway); whether Jeff should get the DC Universe app, and more.
23:08-35:50: From there, a sort of strange left turn: the new redband trailer for Hellboy resurfaces a tweet from B.P.R.D. and Hellboyverse writer John Arcudi.  Did Arcudi leave Hellboy and B.P.R.D. (and Guy Davis leave comics altogether) based on how they were handled and/or (un)compensated in relation to this?  The Magic Eightball says “All Signs Point To ‘Comics Will Break Your Heart.’”  Also discusssed: reaction to the original trailer; reaction to rough cuts of the film; Vague Recollections of Forgotten Dinner Parties; the filmography of Neil Marshall; the strangeness of having people hype things that don’t seem like what they’re hyping; and more.
35:50-53:52: The Hellboy thing may leave a bad taste in your mouth if you’re a B.P.R.D. fan, but Jeff’s not really into it or Hellboy.  He is, of course, alternately appalled, guilty about, and mystified by the Wikipedia summary of Doomsday Clock, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank taking the Watchmen characters into the DCU.  Graeme has read issue #9 of the book (not out until later this week so Graeme does superhuman work in trying to avoid spoilers of any kind) and we discuss what’s come before, what might be coming next, and what Johns is trying to say (apart from “back up the money truck”).
53:52-1:01:51: And from our discussion about narrative jumps, Jeff goes on to mention the first five issues of Exorsisters by the talented team of Ian Boothby and Gisele LaGace.  Jeff is heavily in the tank for these two, so what did he think of the book? The answer may surprise you…or at least baffle you?  (Jeff is clearly baffled, as you’ll hear.)  Jeff summarizes the book, talks about its charms, and entreats Graeme to read the issues so we can talk about it more.
1:01:51-1:04:57: Jeff’s got a throughline in mind as he transitions from Exorsisters to Action Comics #1008 by Brian Michael Bendis and the terrific Steve Epting.  (Jeff really didn’t talk about it here, but man does Epting’s stuff look gorgeous on the DC characters!)  That throughline, fortunately or unfortunately, tiptoes around Crabby Jeff and tries to hew close to the path of Diplomatic Jeff.  (There’s also an all-too-brief shoutout to Satoru Noda’s Golden Kamuy, which is still flat-out excellent.)
1:04:57-1:53:43: Part of why Epting and Noda get short-shrift is Graeme chimes in with his experience about catching up on Tom King’s Batman, which Graeme hadn’t read since September.  There’s been some grumbling about the pacing and storytelling choices King has made with the title since issue #50—do those grumblings have merit for someone reading all those issues in a oner? (1er?)  Also discussed: Heroes in Crisis #6; subtext becoming text; the futility of a work-for-hire creator as embodied in a work-for-hire creation; Batman RIP; Mortal Kombat and common ground; movie violence in the ‘80s; and, quite obviously, us back to circling around Doomsday Clock again (ha, “circling!”)
1:40:15-1:53:43: Graeme still hasn’t seen Aquaman! But that may well be rectified *very* soon, thank goodness.  And Jeff re-saw Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, and has a lot of thoughts about, many of which are informed by…Natalie Nourigat’s I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation?  Really?  Warning: big ol’ spoilers for the movie and in-depth descriptions so take a pass if you haven’t yet seen this (really excellent) film.
1:53:43-2:05:35: Graeme has picked up a bunch of old 80 pg. dollar Superman Family comics, describes ‘em for our delight, and sings the praises of low-stakes/no-stakes comics.
2:05:35-2:20:21:  As for Jeff and the old comics routine, thanks to the wonderful David Wolkin, Jeff has read issue #131 of Dark Horse Presents from 1998, and issues #1 and #2 of Nightmares from Doug Moench, Paul Gulacy, and Don McGregor, published by Eclipse all the way back in 1985!
2:20:21-2:37:33:  News?  Well, maybe there’s some somewhere, but the only stuff we can think of worth mentioning is, as Graeme rightly points out, everyone should check out the trio of speeches given at ComicsPro by ex-DC Marketing Director Bob Wayne, and retailers Brian Hibbs and Joe Field.  And there’s also a bit of a lazy roundup of stories, or maybe as much roundup as a week that includes “Marvel Meow.”
2:37:33-end:  Closing comments!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.
NEXT WEEK:
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0:01-20:16:  Greetings from Graeme “I’m In A Great Mood!” McMillan and Jeff “I Most Definitely Am Not!” Lester, where we start in with exactly that state of affairs.  Jeff lays out the details and is especially annoyed at some of the comics he’s been reading; Graeme thinks that Jeff will be entertainingly cranky as a result.  Jeff thinks he’s going to just be a crank.  Good(?) News: you will definitely get a chance to decide for yourself with this episode, because Jeff goes all in on the grouchiness.  Warning:  ALL IN.  But first: we talk a bit about the comics backlog pile; Jeff makes the case for Comixology adding a user-customizable smart list function; reception to the first episode of DROKK!, and more.
20:16-26:20: Is Jeff gaining no joy at all from the news that Conan will be a member of the Savage Avengers a sign that he is truly in a bad place?  (Jeff, not Conan, although arguably the latter—especially if you think of the bad place being “Marvel”—is quite likely a more rewarding conversational topic.)  Or is it that David Finch cover? Or is it just the common sense idea that you don’t garnish your salt with salt? Or you never put the Punisher on team?  Or some other option I haven’t listened far enough into the discussion to list out?
26:20-43:46: Remember Jeff joking about Battling About Bendis, the new podcast (that actually turned out to be Drokk)?  Get a bit of taste of that as an embittered Jeff “reviews” Superman #8 and Young Justice #2.  Graeme has a great theory about what’s going on with Jon Kent, but does Mr. Let-It-All-Burn care?  Also discussed: Sex Criminals; DeFalco & Ryan’s Fantastic Four; and more.
43:46-56:39: Jeff tries to apologize and mentions there are other people whose work he also was frustrated by this week but he won’t be shitting on their work…and then GRAEME DEMANDS THE RECEIPTS.  (Look at me trying to blame it on Graeme even now! What a garbage person I am.)  Anyway, discussed: Goddess Mode #3 by Zoe Quinn and Robbi Rodriguez; Wonder Twins #1 by Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne; moving past Tom King and the feedback on Heroes in Crisis; Fantastic Four #1 by Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli.
56:39-1:08:38: Realizing he has unleashed a monster, Graeme tries desperately to pivot:  “Here’s a question,” he asks, fear all but audible, “what have you read this week that you liked?”  Discussed:   Where does optimism end and self-torture begin?; West Side Story; a quick list of stuff Jeff did like; Criminal #2 by Brubaker and Phillips.
1:08:38-1:36:13: Jeff has read the first three issues of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Tempest (which, as Graeme points out, Jeff refers to as Tempest by The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which may or may not add an enlightening “senile and addled” sheen to all that has come before now this ep from Jeff).  Thank goodness, Greg is there to help set him straight!  Discussed: LOEG and the Nemo books, Black Dossier, Century, the ways in which Tempest! feels perhaps like a pivot in a number of ways, extra-temporality, the expectations of a artist’s final work, LOEG: The Tempest vs. Twin Peaks: The Return.
1:36:13-1:43:16: After a super quick visit to our safe space—by which I mean Immortal Hulk #13 by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett Ruy José, Belardino Brabo and Rafael Fonteriz—Jeff goes on to talk about Outer Darkness #4 by John Layman and Afu Chan, and, in a similar Trek-based vein, the USS Callister episode of Black Mirror.
1:43:16-1:55:20: Please dear god, let us hear from Graeme!  He wants to talk about the pilot of Doom Patrol now on DC Universe.  What did he love? What drove him crazy? And what will keep him coming back? Is it lifting from Morrison as opposed to Morrisonian, and what’s the difference? (And what’s better?)
1:55:20-2:22:19: On a super-related topic, Graeme has reread Morrison and Case’s Doom Patrol and feels the run doesn’t hold up. Considering Graeme’s re-read of The Invisibles disappointed him, is Morrison someone whose work doesn’t hold up on a second readthrough?  Graeme thinks not, but has a lot of culprits to attribute to those failures.
2:22:19-2:37:03: Static hits, so we call back, and although you would think we would go right to the closing comments, Jeff has a lot of apologizing to do to Graeme (a lot!), but also we feel we should do a very quick rundown of comics news:  Second Coming not coming from Vertigo anymore; rumors about the number of books in DC’s line and where they might be published are discussed; aging up your avatar; and DC’s beautiful-looking Lucha Explosiva figures.
2:37:03-end:  Closing comments!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.  And then we’re out!
NEXT WEEK:  Skip week? Indeed!  Enjoy the rest of you February and join us for a new Wait, What? in March!
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Welcome to the year 2099, where the law is everything, and one man is the law — even if, in the stories we’re reading in this first episode of Drokk!, Judge Dredd isn’t exactly the fearsome lawman that everyone will come to know and love just yet. But watching how that happens is half the fun, or at least, half the fun of this podcast.

0:00:00-0:02:09: We roll into town — well, Mega-City One — with new music, courtesy of Mr. Jeffrey Lester, and introduce ourselves as well as what we’re actually reading this episode: Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 1, which covers 2000 AD Prog 2 – 60, from 1977 and 1978.

0:02:10-:0:04:59: Jeff quickly unpacks his history with Judge Dredd as a character and a strip, including mention of the Eagle Comics reprints that debuted in the U.S. in the early ‘80s. A quick correction to what I said in the show itself: The Eagle Comics reprints launched in 1983 as an offshoot of Titan Books, insofar as they were owned by the same man, Nick Landau. (There are probably many U.S. fans who’ll be familiar with the later Quality Comics reprints, which were like the Eagle reprints if done by someone who had access to a photocopier that destroyed page ratios and were colored by someone in a rush; the Eagle reprints were generally higher quality, and had original covers from Brian Bolland and other 2000 AD artists.)

0:05:00-:0:15:03: We talk about the way in which the early years of Judge Dredd are different from the character and strip we know today, which is another way of saying, “Man, these early strips are often pretty goofy.” They’re also just burning through ideas, as if no-one behind the scenes really expecting Dredd to stick around that long and saw no reason to pace themselves.

0:15:04-0:23:01: “So much of this first volume feels born of desperation,” I say about the first year of the character, in which various writers and artists try and fill the void of Dredd after the immediate departure of his creators for reasons Jeff alludes to. (He’s referencing material from both Pat Mills’ Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!: 2000 AD & Judge Dredd: The Secret History and also the wonderful Thrill-Power Overload: 2000 AD — The First Forty Years at times throughout this episode, starting here.)

0:23:02-0:31:36: We begin to get into the weeds, talking about potential influences in the earliest days of the series, whether that happens to be Silver Age DC Comics or the density of storytelling in earlier British comics that preceded 2000 AD altogether, while also touching on the difference in comics language between UK and US comics a little. (This, I suspect, will be something we’ll come back to a lot across this series as a whole.)

0:31:37-0:40:14: After a rough start, things start to fall into focus a bit more with the arrival of co-creator John Wagner on the strip, nine episodes in. (Yes, that seems to make little sense; we explain it, honest.) If nothing else, he’s the first writer who seems to be okay not only not trying to make Dredd heroic, but just the opposite: Understanding that Dredd works really well as a character without any great depth, or any noticeable sympathetic features. Oh, and also as kind of a bastard, too.

0:40:15-0:50:19: Mention of Walter the Wobot gets us onto the topic of sidekicks and their place in comic book tradition, as both Walter and, to a lesser extent, housekeeper Maria, are placed in a spectrum of characters that includes both Woozy Winks and Dennis the Menace’s Walter the Softy. (That’s the British Dennis, I should make clear.) Also! What is with John Wagner and racist stereotypes when it comes to sidekicks, and does Dredd being so unsympathetic make the racism somehow more palatable?

0:50:19-0:57:44: “The Return of Rico” marks Pat Mills’ greatest contribution to the series to date, and it’s a story packed with all kinds of great stuff that also happens to be ruined by a particularly terrible punchline. How did the Hollies get in here? Also! Jeff’s love of sentimental pop — revealed!

0:57:45-1:14:10: Rico’s debut isn’t the only bit of world building that stuck around from the second six months of the character’s existence, and we talk about the fact that John Wagner (and, to a lesser extent, others) seem to find their footing after a shaky start. This leads into a very brief diversion about Wagner working through different comic book crime influences as he tries to work out what kind of comic Judge Dredd is, especially — as far as I’m concerned — Will Eisner’s The Spirit.

1:14:11-1:21:16: “We haven’t talked enough about the art,” I say, and considering this book features Mike McMahon, Brian Bolland, Ian Gibson and many more, that’s a particular oversight we try to address here. Of note: Jeff loves Ron Turner’s work but isn’t a fan of early Gibson, which we both agree is a little bit too busy. (Maybe we should do a spin-off Robo Hunter podcast to deal with more Gibson throughout the years…)

1:21:17-1:30:51: We talk about our favorite stories from the collection; I talk about the Dream Palace done in one, which Jeff likens to The Spiritstory about Gerhard Shnobble, while he can’t resist tales about Billy Jones, criminal apes — with me forgetting the name of Harry Heston in response, to my shame — and, of course, robots that want to rise up and free themselves of the shackles placed upon them by their makers. (Updated to add: Harry Heston was created by Stewart Perkins and Jake Lynch, as Henry Flint corrected me on Twitter.)

1:30:52-1:38:06: Another brief diversion, as we talk about whether or not the “Robot Wars” storyline scared creators off longer storylines for awhile afterwards, and whether “Luna-1,” the status quo change that ends this volume, is an attempt to pretend to have a continued storyline without actually going through with it. Also under discussion: The workload involved in making a weekly comic without break, and Jeff and I discovering a connection between 2000 AD and American Golden Age comics that we didn’t know we knew about.

1:38:07-1:52:14: Sure, it’s the first volume of the series and it’s the first Dredd stories, but is Complete Case Files Vol. 1 a good place for newcomers to start? Jeff says maybe, depending on what they’re looking for — dropping a Bob Haney reference in the process — while I’m unconvinced, instead likening it to the earliest issues of Fantastic Four. High praise, or merely a sign that the best is yet to come? Why not go with “both”?

1:52:15-end: We wrap things up with a truncated farewell (There was more cut for crackly audio purposes), but what you’re missing is that Drokk! will be back next month with the second volume, which brings both “The Cursed Earth” and “The Day The Law Died,” and really kicks the series into high gear. In the meantime, there’s a Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Patreon. Grud!

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