Previously on Drokk!: If there’s one thing that we’ve learned in the last couple of episodes of Drokk!, it’s that the 1990s was a strange time for Judge Dredd as a strip, but that things seemed to be on the upswing the more involved co-creator John Wagner got. If we learned two things, it’s that Wagner had a strange fascination with Bill Clinton, but go and listen to last month’s episode for more on that.

0:00:00-0:02:41: We’re going back literally 25 years for this month’s episode, with Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 24 offering material from a lot of different people dating back to 1995 and 1996 — and offering two different ways in which John Wagner tries to break the formula of the strip in particularly entertaining ways. (Also, the audio on my side is a bit odd this episode, but we’re coming from Verity Lambert Block, in case it’s not too clear.)

0:02:42-0:14:04: As is our tradition, we start off by talking about things that we didn’t particularly like about the volume, as we discuss whether or not the sheer competency of the material on display here — even the weaker stories — make this a surprisingly dull book, with the Judge Dredd Magazine strips in particular feeling disappointing. Is it just me? Jeff seems to like them well enough, after all, although that might be because he’s high when he’s reading…

0:14:05-0:22:27: Earlier than intended, we just naturally fall into talking about “The Pit,” the longest of the stories in this book, and a sneaky soft reboot of the strip, to boot. What TV show is Wagner referencing, if at all? How does it underscore the strangeness at the heart of Dredd as a character? And, really, isn’t it great? (The answer to that last bit, at least, is “yes.”)

0:22:28-0:31:01: With Wagner offering up such strong work in “The Pit,” does that negatively impact everything around it? We talk about the possibility that the other stories aren’t necessarily bad, but simply pale in comparison to what Wagner’s doing. That doesn’t excuse Pat Mills’ contribution to the volume, which seems confusing on the very face of it — sure, “Hammerstein” has a Judge Dredd logo on it, but it’s most definitely not a Judge Dredd story. (Fans of the ABC Warriors, though, might be happy enough to see it.)

0:31:02-0:46:21: We barrel through stories, touching on “The Cal Files,” Wagner’s other significant contribution — and a really good storyline we could have spent more time on — as well as Mark Millar and Steve Yeowell’s beautifully-illustrated-but-trash-really “The Man Who Broke The Law,” the idea of a story being good for a particular creator but otherwise objectively shitty, and what Dan Abnett gets right in his sole contribution to the book that others fail at. Spoilers: it’s not just that he’s telling a Will Eisner Spirit story, despite my obsession with that strip as a model for good Dredd.

0:46:22-0:58:50: We head back into “The Pit” to talk about the way in which it is that rare thing: A Dredd strip that decentralizes Dredd and offers other characters the chance to have lives and relationships that don’t revolve entirely around ol’ stoney face. It is, as Jeff describes it, a serial that is full of “police drama-ness,” which feels surprisingly novel for a comic strip almost two decades into its existence that, in theory, is all about a policeman. Which leads us to talk about…

0:58:51-1:15:26: …the idea that John Wagner uses his two primary stories here to find new things to say about policing, as seen through the prism of Mega-City One, and what it means that Wagner continues to try and evolve the strip even as other writers are still trying to grapple with a formula he established years ago. Also discussed: Is Wagner like Jack Kirby, and if so, in what ways? Is “The Cal Files” the beginning of a reappraisal of an idea seemingly abandoned after “Mechanismo”? Was there a rethink at 2000 AD editorial about the different purposes of 2000 AD and the Magazine, in terms of what each individual series brings to the table that is Dredd?

1:15:27-1:30:17: We back into the “Drokk or Dross question,” as I put it, by talking about whether or not the Magazine material really is worse than the 2000 AD material this time around, and offering up potential reasons why that might be so. (Both of us think it’s Drokk, by the way.) We also talk about the art in this volume, with me calling out both Steve Yeowell and Simon Davis, and offer up our favorite non-John Wagner stories here, before going on to praise Wagner to the heavens for “The Pit” especially, because (for me) it offers something new to Dredd as a series, and (for Jeff) it sees Wagner really approach things from a police procedural point of view, albeit in a skewed manner.

1:30:18-1:39:04: We’re not done, though; Jeff explores his love for the story “Mondo Simp” some more, and we discuss queer coding, and our differing reactions to where this story falls in the John Smith canon. There’s also a Mark Millar podcast idea that Jeff invents that has a name that really shouldn’t be ignored, and I hope someone picks it up and uses it as soon as possible. (And then invites Jeff on to share his feelings on the matter.)

1:39:05-end: We close things down by reaffirming that we love “The Pit,” looking ahead to the next volume, and sharing the traditional mentions of our Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter and Patreon accounts, while also teasing a Geoff Johns discussion in the next Wait, What? that may never happen. This is why you tune in, Whatnauts, and we’re so very glad that you do.

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0:01-19:26: Greetings!  No need to adjust your headset, the reason Graeme sounds a little different here is that he’s someone else ( or rather someone else as well)—yes, the talent Chloe Maveal joins your usual set of fools for this special April Fool’s episode!  No fake news stories here, not to worry, but Chloe, thank goodness, as a formidable comic critic and cultural editor was gracious enough to join us to change things up.  Not to worry though, this intro definitely has a Wait, What staple—us worrying about our tech set-up and how things will sound, and Jeff grumbling about work (although we hope to amusing ends in at least one of those cases). Also discussed: The best Leverage episode; The Italian Job; The Italian-er Job; Jay-Z’s Big Pimpin’;  and more!
19:26-50:52: Because we need to, ya know, talk about comic book like stuff eventually, we opt to discuss the recent news including: The Suicide Squad trailer(s), Space Jam: A New Legacy trailer, Marvel selling 300k+ copies of their Aliens comic; and then finally settling of the news of Marvel leaving Diamond for Penguin/Random House Publisher Services  (or PeRHaPS, as Jeff decides to call it to a confusing and annoying degree  in this episode). But fear not, gentle listener, of course we manage to discuss…Battle Pope?

50:52-1:02:05:  Jeff asks Chloe for her comic book origin story and it’s as delightful and as informative an answer as anyone could’ve hoped for.  (We all owe Uncle Tony a big round of thanks!).
1:02:05-1:03:08: Normally I splice together the two halves of our conversation a little more cleanly, but Graeme using his NPR Announcer voice (to announce that he’s doing his NPR Announcer voice, of course) was too good to cut out, conversational continuity be damned.
1:03:08-1:33:04: No, really, comics—all three of us really do read them even now!  In fact, we’ve all read the same comic:  Bogie Man: Return to Casablanca by John Wagner, Alan Grant, and Robin Smith!  If you feel left out because you haven ‘t don’t worry because (a) we all pretty much agree you’re not missing out, and (b) Jeff hasn’t read the first two installments in the Bogie Man saga, and Graeme & Chloe have.  But on the good news, both Graeme and Chloe are excellent summarizers so you to hear about what’s good, bad, and interesting about the original powerhouse team behind the first decade of Dredd (and Robin Smith!) tackling openly, ridiculously broad comedy!  Also discussed: Al’s Baby, Justice League International, Doomlord, and more (so much more!)

1:33:04-1:49:13: Graeme and Jeff had made a vow—a sacred oath, if you will—that they would watch Godzilla vs. Kong on HBOMax.  Graeme and Chloe did; Jeff unfortunately did not. Fortunately, Choe has plenty to say (and sing) and perhaps even more fortunately, we end up spending wayyyyyyyy more time talking about trashy reality show, Below Decks, than we do on GvK.
1:49:13-1:57:41: DC Universe Infinite is doing a Round Robin bracket where fans get to vote on pitches, the winner of which will become a  genuine series! Cynical? Inspired?  Has Jeff been following the Big Two for so long he can’t tell the difference anymore?  Find out here!
1:57:41-2:05:11: More DC/Warners news—their New Gods movie (by Ana DuVernay and Tom King) and The Trench—James Wan’s horror-infused spinoff from Aquaman—have both been put out to pasture.  Why? Who? What?  (I mean, why would you turn down a James Wan horror film, for God’s sake? That’s about as close to a money-in-the-bank guarantee as you’re going to get!)
2:05:11-2:03:22: Any must-read books that came out?  We each take a turn talking about what ‘s recent we’ve been reading and liking.  For Graeme, that’s Hershey: Disease by Rob Williams and Simon Fraser (and this being Graeme, the resident podcast Time Lord, “recent” means “not officially released until 17 August, 2021”.  For Chloe, “recent” means “a few years ago” as she’s been reading and really enjoying Rob Williams’ recent run on Suicide Squad (art initially by Jim Lee and then by a procession of artists).  Jeff spoils the Rob Williams trifecta but at least arguably has a better sense of the term “recent” by talking about Beta Ray Bill #1 written and illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson. (I didn’t mention it in the podcast, but here’s the longer version of the interview between Johnson and the mighty Walt Simonson that ran at the back of that issue).
2:03:22-end:  Closing Comments!    Oh, but fortunately some things never change:  look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff (and Chloe)! Tumblr, 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: Time to Drokk!  Read Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files, Volume 24 and drokkin’ join us here next week!
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Amazingly great image ganked from the amazingly great Twitter feed of @DieRobinsonDie!

00:01-1:23:04: Greetings!  We don’t beat around the bush here, we just get right in to talking about Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a.k.a., The SnyderCut. (It’s tempting to say we don’t because with its four hour running time, the SnyderCut has already thoroughly beaten ever bush in sight.)
As you might guess knowing us:  FULL SPOILERS. SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS. We go on to discuss this movie at length which means if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to spoil the, uh, remarkable directing and storytelling choices Mr. Snyder with his here cut, you should jump ahead to either (a) our discussion of Falcon and the Winter Soldier; (b) Graeme’s discussion of The Green Lantern Season Two; or (c) just shelve this episode until you have seen the SnyderCut. (P.S. I wrote all this while listening to the part where Graeme tells Jeff there is yet another cut that is going to be released, the Justice is Gray version which….oy.) So get ready for a rolicking discussion of Justice League The Snyder Cut compared to Justice League the Whedon Cut compared to Jeff’ take on some of Snyder’s other films to…oh so much more. It is a full hour-plus of discussion on a full four hour film! (Oh, and in case you want the reference for the story Jeff repeats herein about the suits telling Patty Jenkins Ares had to be in the Wonder Woman finale, here is the link.)
1:23:04-1:39:10: And from there to the other big superhero not-comics thing: Graeme saw the first episode of Falcon and The Winter Soldier on D+ and he was alternately underwhelmed and a little troubled? I don’t know if it’s a full-spoiler thing but Graeme definitely discloses the reveal at the end of the first ep. at the 1:26:25 mark so that’s a thing to be wary of if you don’t want to be spoiled? Jeff asks Graeme to contrast the experience with Wandavision and what his expectations had been for each, and we go from there.
1:39:10-2:03:10: Ninety-eight minutes into a comic book podcast and Graeme decides to talk about comic books? The man is A MONSTER…but he’s also a monster who’s read all of Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s The Green Lantern and he’s got some very interesting things to say about it and what Morrison is doing.
2:03:10-end: Closing Comments!   It turns out Graeme is excited about Godzilla Vs. Kong while Jeff is…lukewarm? Up is down! Black is white! What has this Snydercut wrought?! Oh, but fortunately some things never change: look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, 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 (and if you want to read the article Jeff references in his comments, here it is!
Next week: Skip week!  Join us two fools in April for another episode of Wait, What?
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Previously on Drokk!: Character co-creator John Wagner has returned to the Judge Dredd fold on a regular basis, and if the result isn’t exactly the highpoint of the strip from the 1980s, it’s still far better than we’ve seen under replacement writers like Garth Ennis and Mark Millar. (Both of whom were very early in their careers at the time.) Is there life to Dredd beyond Wagner?

0:00:00-0:05:48: We’re covering Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 23 this episode, and both Jeff and myself are a little surprised at how much we enjoyed the book — especially given that we’re both willing to admit that this is far from the best the character has been. Given the high number of writers on this volume, could it be that people other than Wagner are finally figuring out how to do Dredd right?

0:05:49-0:19:51: The first question I have for Jeff this episode is maybe the most obvious question of the book: exactly what was John Wagner’s deal with Bill Clinton? This collection has two separate stories parodying Clinton, both of which appeared at a time when I believed the President was more or less popular on both sides of the Atlantic. The educated Mr. Lester puts me right with a history lesson, and also attempts to answer my question by suggesting just what Wagner might have been writing about with regards to the Celebrity Saxophonist President’s appearances — both literal and parodic — in here.

0:19:52-0:27:36: The second of the Clinton-centric stories is “The Three Amigos,” and Jeff and I talk about its appeal beyond any Presidential parody: that it’s a particularly Wagnerian tale that originally feels just the opposite, that it’s a classic Dredd mix of the ridiculous, the smart, and the gloriously stupid, and that it offers fan service in such a way that ultimately feels true to the spirit of Dredd (and John Wagner) and feels like great examples of both. We like the story, to say the least.

0:27:37-0:51:30: This leads into a discussion of whether or not the collection feels like it’s full of “classic Dredd” stories or not, and what that idea even means. How has John Wagner evolved as a writer, and does that evolution mean that he couldn’t write the same kind of stories as he did back in the 1990s? What is different in terms of what Wagner is trying to do in his stories in this volume? Can other writers measure up, or even find ways to continue what Jeff calls Wagner’s “melancholic” stories about Mega-City One using Dredd? Oh, and because we’re talking “classic” Dredd, everyone will be happy to know that we also talk about the racist “Language Barrier” short as well. No, not happy, what’s the word I’m looking for? Exhausted. That’s right. Also under the briefest of discussions: Is “bad” John Wagner just like Alan Grant?

0:51:31-0:59:18: It’s not all John Wagner and the new generation of Dredd writers this time out, though; Garth Ennis returns unexpectedly with an overlong return to his self-consciously badass creation Jonni Kiss. To no-one’s surprise, Jeff dug it and I didn’t, and we talk a little bit about why, as well as how Ennis seemed to be about to escape from John Wagner’s shadow by embracing the spaghetti western, and how Wagner managed to ruin it.

0:59:19-1:11:13: As if Ennis’s return wasn’t enough, this volume also sees the first Pat Mills Dredd work in a decade or so, and he’s basically rewriting one of his earliest contributions to the series. Does it work? Not really, and we talk about why, with Jeff bringing up the unexpected tropes that Mills seems eager to insert into the relationship between Dredd and his brother. Meanwhile, I really like Paul Johnston’s artwork, and Jeff doesn’t, and we talk for a little bit about why that is.

1:11:14-1:19:17: What is it about Dredd that Ennis and Mills don’t seem to grasp, but which John Wagner seems to have an instinctive feel for? Could it be that the latter really doesn’t seem to be concerned with showing Dredd to be particularly tough or even aware of anything beyond doing his job, whereas other writers — including Grant Morrison, in earlier stories — seem obsessed with giving the character a hero moment to remind readers that he is, in fact, the most macho character in comics?

1:19:18-1:29:28: Is Judge Dredd a nihilistic strip? I argue that it’s not, but my esteemed colleague is far from convinced and has some examples to push his depressing agenda. I think that there’s a kindness and humanity in the strip — especially under Wagner, but not exclusively — that would belie it being truly nihilistic, and Jeff concedes that, if nothing else, Wagner refuses to be nihilistic towards recurring characters, and has an interesting theory as to why that might be.

1:29:29-1:40:14: And so, is this volume Drokk or Dross? As might be clear by this point, we both think it’s Drokk, and we talk about our favorite stories — for me, “The Three Amigos,” for Jeff, the one-off “Bug Crazy,” but Jeff also talks a little bit more about the Ennis strip because he wants to torture me.

1:40:15-:1:46:41: Somehow, we’d gotten this far into the episode before we even mentioned “Bad Frendz,” a Wagner/Carlos Ezquerra collaboration that does everything you want a good Dredd to do, and also sets up things for the future — but that’s perhaps a sign that this collection was far better than it had any rights to be.

1:46:42-end: We wrap things up by looking ahead to the next episode, in which we’ll reach “The Pit,” an attempt to change the status quo around Dredd in an unexpected way, and also do our usual wrap up mentions of the usual suspect sites: Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, and Patreon. As always, thanks for listening and reading along. Be back in a month for Dredd in a position he never asked for…

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0:01-2:52: Greetings!  Stressful, stressful greetings! Jeff is still working the kinks out of his new system and is easily stressed and easily defensive. (In other words—same ol’, same ol’.).
2:52-40:55: Fortunately for all Graeme easily steers us away from Jeff’s overdeveloped fight or flight response by immediately starting in about what he’s been reading which is the X of Swords event, all of which has meandered its way onto Marvel Unlimited. FULL SPOILERS for this recent Hickman led X-event which many loved but Graeme…well, Graeme not so much, frankly. And it also led Graeme to consider things that happened in the event with the finale of Wandavision where similar things were going on. FULL SPOILERS as well for Wandavision although since these two pieces, X of Swords and Wandavision, are used as the backbone for the topic that unfolds, I’m not sure what to flag as spoiler-free or when? In short, if you don’t want to be spoiled about either/both topic, maybe put this one of the shelf and come back to it when you’ve experienced either/both pieces for yourself? Because although this starts as a discussion about X of Swords for the first chunk of time, Wandavision factoids drop in and out occasionally. I’ll try to let you know when we move from the X of Swords-heavy stuff to the Wandavision-heavy stuff but if your concerns are spoilers, tread carefully! But this early part focuses on X of Swords, what Graeme found frustrating, what the appeal seems to be for those who found the event rewarding, and more.

40:55-49:51: And here, around the forty minute mark, is where we move very solidly into the Wandavision series on Disney+ which Graeme has completed and Jeff hasn’t even started but with which I think[?] gets fully spoiled in our conversation. So, yeah, FULL SPOILERS.
49:51-1:02:05: And so this is where Jeff steers the convo into a different area. The SPOILERS are still in effect, though with a very high degree of frequency, but what begins as a discussion of narrative swerves and when a story swerve is too much, it becomes a larger far-ranging talk about public reception, private experience, and Jeff’s inquiry into what, if any, anxiety Graeme experiences about the frisson between the two, seeing as he’s a guy who makes his living putting his latter right in the middle of the public’s former. (Oh yeah, and there’s a mention of someone who’s seen the Snyder Cut but this is a very spoiler-free mention so no worries there.)
1:02:05-1:46:55: This is where it really goes more into Graeme’s personal history and how it influences his reactions to what he’s watching: he was a pioneer in the methods of writing entertainment journalism online as a full-time job (though he prefers to characterize himself as pioneer-adjacent)? To what extent is MCU’s fanservice pandering and the fan/press reaction things he was doing long ago and is long since tired by? Or is what he sees as trends something very separate from what he did and does for a living online?
1:46:55-1:50:15: “It’s been a very weird episode,” Graeme says, apologizing for what he calls his “therapy session” (despite me poo-poo’ing that and talking about all the copious self-revelation I’ve put listeners through over the years). But perhaps because of this—or perhaps because it’s not necessarily a bad thing to talk about comic books on a comic book podcast—Graeme talks about the most recent issue of Suicide Squad and how it brings more of what he’d hoped he would see in Infinite Frontier: a sense of something new.
1:50:15-1:58:15: And for his “eh, what the hell, why not talk about comic books?” moment, Jeff talks about reading the first issues of BRZRKR and Jonna & the Unpossible Monsters (thanks, Hoopla)! Both worth reading, though maybe not in the order Jeff read ’em in.
1:58:15-end: Closing Comments!   Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, 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 (and if you want to read the article Jeff references in his comments, here it is!
Next week: Drokk it!! Vol 23. of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files! Join us!
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0:01-6:39: Greetings!  As the kids used to say: Who’s Zoomin’ Who? By which I mean—Graeme deflects blame for poor recording processes that have been plagued us. And if you’ve listened more than a minute and a half and are wondering if this “as the kids used to say” opening here is my attempt to imagine an alternate world where Jeff’s choice of “as the kids used to say” phrase led Graeme down the rabbit hole of Don Was’s career rather than Vanilla Ice’s? So am I! Discussed: Rob Van Winkle.
6:39-23:52: Jeff’s attempts to enjoy “Graeme McMillan Unplugged” (not a lost installment of the popular MTV series of concerts but rather just the way Graeme is living life at the moment) is marred by the fact that although Graeme doesn’t necessarily know what’s happening in comics news, he is able to show off books he’s read before the rest of us and talk extensively yet also elliptically about them. Case in point: Infinite Frontier #0! Discussed: Infinite Frontier #0! Also: Moving forward nostalgically, the five to ten year cycle of full and partial reboots for DC, getting what you want but also kinda hoping you’d have gotten something different, and more.
23:52-34:30: I don’t know if you saw that article where Dan Jurgens had some choice quotes about the Linearverse? But Jeff did and was pretty damn confused and, frankly, troubled. If like Jeff, you’re worried about what it might mean for the DCU and how it ties in to Infinite Frontier, you’ll appreciate the info and context Graeme’s able to provide. Also discussed: some announced publishing projects forthcoming from DC.
34:30-37:23: Jeff also wonders about Marvel—are things as quiet over there as it seems to feel to him? God bless Graeme who, again, despite not doing this for a living at the moment (and is in fact mostly taking some time away to recharge the batteries) knows more than Jeff and fills us in.
37:23-38:29: Also! We would probably be remiss if we didn’t mention the teaming of Ta-Nehisi Coates and J.J. Abrams for a Superman movie! Yes, okay, that’s a good point. Far be it from us to be remissing! Also discussed: a Blue Beetle movie? Yep!

38:29-1:01:57: But yeah, it’s definitely mostly on a “cursory mention” side of things, we admit…because we are off to the races with discussion about Justice League: the Joss Whedon version just rewatched by Graeme!
1:01:57-1:11:43: Ah, but then! Graeme reveals he also rewatched Green Lantern, that Ryan Reynolds thing from way back! (Well, re-re-watched it.) And whereas he initially liked it and then on rewatching did not, now is back to liking it on re-rewatching. I mean, that’s fine, right? People are allowed to like what they like right? WELL, NOT IF JEFF HAS ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT! Discussed: Green Lantern, but also those two Fantastic Four movies directed by Tim Story way back in that long lost time of 2005 and 2007; Hector Hammond’s secret identity as…Hector Hammond; and more.

1:11:43-1:21:33: On the other hand, Graeme has also watched two movies, one of which is probably the among the greatest superhero movies we have, Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL. Also discussed: Ted Lasso (finally, Jeff’s watched it!); It’s a Sin (but still hasn’t watched this); The Little Things on HBO Max; and more.
1:21:33-1:40:12: “I’m curious, did you read the Milestone book?” Graeme asks, thus alerting Jeff to the arrival on Comixology of Milestone Returns #0, a book that arrived on the system only the day prior! Anyway, as of this editing, Jeff still hasn’t read it (though he has purchased a copy, like, pronto) but Graeme runs us through the issue and how they’ve adjusted things with this reboot.
1:40:12-1:54:24: Jeff is partway through the very recent Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter: Coming of The Dragon collection and he sees some interesting connections between the Milestone books and this old ’70s title…but maybe not in the ways you might expect? (Although full points to Graeme for not only putting up with Jeff’s blather, but mentioning Batman: Soul of the Dragon, the recently released DC animated film that almost certainly explains this collection’s release).
1:54:24-2:25:12: Talking about Richard Dragon (and wondering when the individual issues might hit DC Universe Infinite) leads us to talking about reading stuff on streaming. Graeme has been reading on Marvel Unlimited the current Amazing Spider-Man run written by Nick Spencer. This more or less moves into our speed round, as Jeff goes on to talk about Marvel Action Chillers #1 (also on Unlimited), and the first six issues of The Brave And The Bold from 2007 by Mark Waid and George Perez, in part because of the persistent rumors going around along the lines of “a collective of wealthy fans are going to buy the publishing rights to DC and they’re going to put Mark Waid in charge as EIC” and in part because Jeff would like to be more like Graeme who has the knack of reading not-great material in bulk and extracting things of interest from it. And this leads us into a larger discussion about Waid, Bob Haney, comics that are fun and comics that are “fun.”
2:25:12-end: Closing Comments!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, 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 (and if you want to read the article Jeff references in his comments, here it is!
Next week: Another week! Another episode! Another Wait to What over! Join us!
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Previously on Drokk!: After the Garth Ennis years and a tease of a Mark Millar era — not to mention an increasing reliance on formula, rendering the series surprisingly stale — Dredd co-creator John Wagner has returned to guide the character in both 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Magazine, which should be a good thing, right…? Right…?

0:00:00-0:06:33: This time around, we’re talking about Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 22, which collects material from 1993 and 1994, and sees Wagner firmly re-established as the primary writer of the strip (although others, including Peter Hogan and the recently departed Si Spencer, show up as well). I talk about the reasons I like the book, although Jeff isn’t convinced by either my arguments or Wagner’s attempts to break with the conventions of the strip. Is this the second schism volume in a row?

 

0:06:34-0:25:23: It only makes sense that we tackle the low point of the volume immediately, so we deal with “Crusade,” a Grant Morrison/Mark Millar serial that massively outstays its welcome, even with art by Mick Austin. We talk about the unexpected Pat Mills influence (especially Nemesis the Warlock), and about Mark Millar’s faith and how that plays into his writing (or doesn’t, as the case may be). We also talk about bad design choices, and the ways in which something can be “not boring,” but that doesn’t necessarily make it interesting, either. Suffice to say: we didn’t like “Crusade” at all.

0:25:24-0:38:55: We move on to “Escape from Kurt Russell,” a John Wagner/Paul Marshall short that has some interesting choices in terms of tone — we discuss whether or not the denouement is a pisstake, a joke, or just a strange idea — and perhaps a coded message to Frank Miller of all people. Perhaps more importantly, it’s also a story from 1994 that previews the plot of 2012’s Dredd movie, which neither of us expected at all, although Jeff points out in passing that there’s also a Mister Miracle Kirby influence at play that I didn’t see at all.

0:38:56-0:59:19: A quick spin through the majority of the other stories in the volume sees us talk about the fact that so much of this book is just… fine, which is far from a selling point. Under some discussion is the self-conscious darkness of the Magazine material from this era, the oddness that is the Bill Clinton cameo in one episode, and my theory about the real reason why John Wagner returned to Dredd — and what that might mean about the “Candidates”/“Voting Day” storyline that opens this collection.

0:59:20-1:41:52: The meat of the episode is exactly what Jeff thought it would be: “The Exterminator,” a ten-episode story that entirely drops the Dredd formula in favor of… a Terminator pastiche, of all things. I love it, but Jeff is less sure, and we talk about why, as well as Jeff’s ambitious theory about what the story is actually about. Also discussed: Wagner’s awareness of racial themes and police complicity in oppressive status quos; whether or not John Wagner is purposefully trolling the makers and cast of the 1995 Judge Dredd movie with this story; editorial oversight and overreach; the parallels this serial has not only with Terminator, but also Alien; Wagner’s interest in time travel and the ways in which it could have been used more appropriately, or at least interestingly, in this particular story, and far, far more. It’s definitely Wagner trying something different with the strip, but is that enough to make it a worthwhile excursion?

1:41:53-1:47:38: So, is this book Drokk or Dross? Both of us go for the former option, although Jeff finds it a more perilous proposition than I do. We don’t do the traditional mentioning of our favorite stories from the volume, but I’d already plumped for “The Exterminator,” and Jeff elsewhere describes it as Wagner’s potential masterpiece, so… let’s just say that’s his choice, too. (He also talks about his love for “Crash Diner,” a Wagner/Cyril Julien short from the Magazine, so perhaps that’s his choice.) Also discussed: a brief mention of what we’ll be reading next episode, which includes a return of Bill Clinton of all people…

1:47:39-1:51:54: Jeff suddenly realizes that we didn’t really talk about the art in this volume as much as usual, and singles out some terrible Ashley Wood, work, some great Dean Ormston and Dermot Power work, and John Burns and Emilio Frejo’s art from “The Exterminator.” There’s also a Garth Ennis slam, just because.

1:51:55-end: We wrap things up the way we always do, by mentioning the Tumblr and Instagram that I haven’t updated in forever — I’ll change that soon, I swear — as well as our Twitter and Patreon accounts, and Jeff sings us out beautifully. We’ll be back in a month, when we’ll have to deal with checks notes new Pat Mills and Garth Ennis Dredd…? As always, thank you for listening and reading along.

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0:01-3:41: Greetings! How are things with you? Good, we hope! As for us, Jeff is (to use his phrase), “uhh…..I, I, I, I…uhhhhh…” and Graeme is in the relatively rare position—for Graeme, it’s actually incredibly rare—of having the week off! What did he do? And why did Jeff keep hounding him about it. Find out here!
[rusty shackles tweet?

3:41-37:55: It probably will not surprise you to find out that Graeme has, in his week off, been reading comics?! But the comics themselves might surprise you. Join us as we discuss Age of Ultron, Civil War II, and House of M, all written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by a plethora of talented artists! What conclusions did Graeme draw from these Marvel events? And why won’t Jeff accept any of them? (A slightly unfair reading of Jeff’s intentions, I hope.). And then around the 19:12 point, Graeme pulls out yet another Marvel event he read: Secret Empire, the Marvel event written by Nick Spencer. I mention this particular timestamp in part because Jeff clearly can’t figure out what the hell Secret Empire is, in part because he’s overwhelmed with Gene Autry references and in part because he was genuinely expecting Graeme to say Secret Invasion. So….good times. Good times.
37:55-52:14: That’s what Graeme’s been reading. But here’s a quick rundown of what he’s been watching! The march to 200 movies begins here! (Well, it probably began before here, but this is where we hear about it first.). Films are listed but the real topic of discussion here is Bloodshot, the 2020 Vin Diesel film, which suffers tremendously from comparison with The Meg, the 2018 Jason Statham film, and actually suffers from comparison to just about anything else, frankly.
52:14-1:06:47: Also! Graeme’s watched both Kill Bill movies which Jeff found surprising—he doesn’t really think of Graeme as a Tarantino guy, to put it mildly—so, not unlike Graeme’s period of relaxation, Jeff finds this interesting to an unhealthy degree! What did Graeme think? What did Jeff think of what Graeme thought? This show notes are maybe hitting the end of their effectiveness, aren’t they?
1:06:47-1:28:31: Jeff tries for the “Hail Mary” of “Okay, we’ve talked about Brian Bendis and we’ve talked about Quentin Tarantino—how can we contrast them a bit?” Does Bendis have thematic concerns and if so, what might they be?
1:28:31-2:03:45: With nearly ninety minutes of flogged horses in our wake, we finally get to Jeff talking about some of the stuff he’s been reading and enjoying: a bunch of stuff that got uploaded in the DC Universe to the DC Universe Infinite; five volumes of Sweat and Soap by Kintetsu Yamada; Superman Kryptonite Nevermore TPB; Power Man & Iron Fist Epic Collection Vol. 1; Savage Avengers #17, Avengers #42, and Immortal Hulk #43, which also leads us into a very weird “Joe Bennett does an anti-semitism, supposedly accidentally” story that is, uh, comics news this week? Also discussed: ’70s Superman and Jeff’s unabashed joy of pastiche villains; cracking the Seinfeld code; Let Them Live: Unpublished Tales From The DC Vault #1 (currently exclusively available on DCU Infinite); our next readthrough after Drokk!!; Shazadam; and more.
2:03:45-end: Jeff watched Palm Springs on Hulu and has thoughts about what he calls the Groundhog Day genre. But! They will have to wait as it’s over the two hour mark and so we’re really better served by talking about…Closing Comments! Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, 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:  Valentine’s Day, and so a skip week.  But join us in two weeks for Drokk!!

 

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Previously on Drokk!: There’s no escaping it; we’re in the mid-1990s now, which is almost certainly the darkest period for Judge Dredd as a property, as the strip in both 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine feels directionless and at the mercy of an ever-changing creative team. Hopefully the fact that character co-creator John Wagner is returning to prominence can only mean good things, right…?

0:00:00-0:05:17: The cold open makes it somewhat clear: Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 21 is a book that is somewhat perplexing, and not entirely that good. We’re still featuring material from 1993 and 1994 at this point, including a crossover between 2000 AD and the Magazine, but as it turns out, even having John Wagner write these things is no guarantee of quality…

0:05-18-0:10:22: We start off by talking about how slight and underwhelming the first third of this book is — collecting 2000 AD strips, predominantly written by Wagner, there’s a retro feel to proceedings, in some cases literally, with two stories that deal with time travel between the future of Mega-City One and the then-present day — a fact that leads us to talk about another time travel story in the collection…

0:10:23-0:27:53: In theory, a John Wagner-written crossover between Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper could and should be a joy to read, with some inherent drama between the ultimate cop and a soldier who rejects authority to get the job done. In reality, “Casualties of War” is… a mess. We talk about the reasons why that is, why it reads like a mediocre issue of Marvel Team-Up, and why John Higgins didn’t help matters at all.

0:27:54-0:37:52: Sadly, “Casualties of War” is just one of a number of Wagner-written letdowns in Case Files 21, and we discuss various potential reasons why that might be… and why other writers aren’t really able to come up with anything better, either. Is there too much of a recognizable formula after 900 issues? Is Wagner trying to write against that formula but failing to come up with a replacement? Come for a discussion about the ways in which Wagner is unfunny in this volume in a way we’ve Neve seen from him, stay for Jeff’s suggestion that the writer is “becoming more Judge Macgruder than Judge Dredd.”

0:37:53-0:45:50: We wrap up discussion of the pre-crossover part of the volume by identifying that boring Judge Dredd is a worse sin than bad Judge Dredd, naming our favorite stories from the first section of the book (Mine is “A Guide to Mega-Speak,” Jeff’s either “Part Exchange” or “Casualties of War”), and very briefly wondering if boring-but-competent is the ideal format for a corporate character with a long publication history.

0:45:51-1:43:21: And then we get to “Wilderlands,” the crossover that takes up two-thirds of the volume, disappoints us both pretty dramatically, and has different pronunciations from both Jeff and I. (Jeff emphasizes the “wild,” which I kind of love.) We talk about a lot here — this section of the podcast is almost an hour long! — but here are just some of the topics: Is Dredd a coward as written here? How great is this final evolution of Macgruder and Dredd’s relationship, and the standoff that consumes it? How much of a mistake was it to sideline Macgruder for almost the entirety of the crossover? (A lot.) What the hell was going on that Wagner’s sense of the unexpected was so entirely lost by the time “Wilderlands” nears its conclusion? (“It’s as if he takes the lamest, laziest way out” for every plot thread, as Jeff puts it.) The multiple better resolutions we managed to come up with. Jeff calling the crossover “the Bataan Death March version of Gilligan’s Island,” which genuinely sounds more fun than the crossover itself. An incredible Lester metaphor in which Judge Macgruder is a metaphor for civilization ruining the frontier. A seeming continuity glitch that just confuses us pretty badly. Is Judge Macgruder the new Chopper? And so much more. No, really, there’s a lot… and all of it because we were really, very disappointed in what we read.

1:43:22-1:50:37: Jeff wonders if one of the reasons for our disappointment with “Wilderlands” is that we’re missing a counter narrative at play, and then tries to find one. He’s not entirely successful, but as we talk about the treatment of Judge Castillo, the phrase “Merchant Ivory” gets mentioned two times more than I ever would have expected on Drokk!, and we struggle with her place in the wider narrative of the entire book.

1:50:38-1:59:22: So, after almost two hours of complaining about the many failures of Case Files Vol. 21, is it Drokk or Dross? Jeff goes contrarian by saying Drokk, whereas I stick with my guns and go the other way. We both agree that there’s some great stuff in here and some very not great stuff, but beyond that, I think you’re hearing a glass half full/half empty divide forming right in front of your very ears.

1:59:23-end: We wrap things up very quickly by talking about what’s to come — more Grant Morrison and Mark Millar co-written “delights” — and mentioning, as ever, the Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblrs as well as the Patreon that makes this all possible. There’s more John Wagner ahead, as well, so let’s hope things improve before a month from now…! As ever, thanks for reading and listening.

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0:01-10:43: Greetings!  Why does it feel like this is our first episode of 2021 despite us having recorded last week, Graeme wonders?  The answer, Jeff suggests, lies in something we left unresolved 9n our previous episode!  The truth may shock you!  Also discussed: Steve Martin’s early film choices; the 1974 horror musical trifecta; Graeme’s secret connection to the 1974 horror musical trifecta *and* OMAC; John Byrne’s OMAC and latter career choices, and more!
10:43-19:14: Speaking of John Byrne’s later period, Graeme did something inconceivable and arguably dangerous this week and read all of Just Imagine Stan Lee Created The DC Universe!  Did he survive, or is Jeff recording a podcast episode with a guh-guh-guh-ghost!?  And if he did survive…how?
19:14-44:14: And from there, we start what ends up (I think, inadvertently) being the main and central conversation of this episode:  the final issue of Death Metal #7 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, and FCO Plasencia.  It is the big finale and…what happened, exactly?  And if you’re a fan of subtext-being-text and subtlety-being-for-cowards as Jeff so often is, will you enjoy it?  As is sometimes the case, Jeff has a big long theory about the stuff underpinning the issue and Graeme is only armed with doing a complete and thorough re-read of the main issue and all the crossover issues. Who will win? Let’s hope it’s you, dear listener! OH, but it is very much a full SPOILERS conversation so if you need to put it aside, we understand? I mean, it’s big event crossover so chances are good you know the contours of how it ends and what it’ll mean…and arguably what we’re actually doing is warning you about, uh, THEMATIC SPOILERS, I guess? But also in some way ACTUAL SPOILERS if you want to know what happens to the Darkest Knight, for example.
44:14-1:30:44: And in the course of talking about Death Metal, Jeff references the above statement by Jason Fabok over at Bleeding Cool.  But that really is just a data point to support Jeff’s overly expansive thesis about the book?  I just wanted to get that in there, though, since I took the time to screenshot it early.
1:30:44-1:43:59:  Death Metal is done, but there are still other books that Graeme read last week that drove him nuts, and four of them are the Judge Anderson Psi Files, written first by the mighty team of Wagner & Grant and then Grant continuing on his own to write stuff he thinks is powerful, meaningful stuff (made a bit easier when you’ve got Arthur Ranson drawing it!).  Also discussed: a new alternative topic for our next Drokk? Is it Judge Dredd: The Pinball Game?!
1:43:59-1:55:36: “Jeff, tell me about the thing that you love,” Graeme pleads and Jeff of course says, “I’m not, Graeme! I’m not, I’m not.”  But…then proceeds to?  In a way though, Jeff has no choice because he has gone back to reading Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto.

YOU GUYS, YOU GUYS, OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS.

1:55:36-1:57:41: Jeff also picked up Untold Tales of Punisher Max #2 written by Jason Latour and drawn like a sonuvabitch by Connor Willumsen.  Gorgeous stuff!
1:57:41-2:02:44: And then Batman: Future State?  Jeff liked that, too!! what’s your deal this week, Jeff?  It’s almost as if you were super-happy to have your avenues of escapism available to you this week due to having a lot in the real world you wanted to escape from.  What’s the story?
2:02:44-end: Aborted musical number! A quick discussion of Jim Jarmuch’s The Dead Don’t Die!  Hasty scheduling! Closing comments! Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, 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!  Join us for Dredd Case Files Vol. 21 at the end of the third  full week of 2021!
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