0:01-6:31:  Greetings from Graeme “Burping” McMillan and Jeff “Probably Talking” Lester! It’s been a couple of weeks so we’re starting off slow(er than usual).  For example:  did you know Graeme rewatched Rocketman?  Could you have guessed Jeff would have some opinions about Rocketman?
6:31-19:21: Since Graeme admitted watching Rocketman on his flight back from New York Comic-Con, and Jeff, being an equal and opposite member of a comic book podcast, feels compelled to ask:  how was the flight?  (Just kidding, he asked about NYCC.)  Discussed:  NYCC, particularly from the point of view of an overworked entertainment industry reporter.
19:21-29:36: Arguably the big story to come out of NYCC is the news about DC’s timeline that came out at the DC Nation panel.  Graeme covers how that came about, and also touches on the other news stories to come out of the Con (such as Iron Man 2020, G. Willow Wilson taking over The Dreaming, Ruins of Ravencroft, etc.)
29:36-1:01:13: At a certain point, we segue from people being disappointed at how there weren’t more new X-titles announced at NYCC to talking about the end of House of X/Powers of X.  Spoilers?  Well, yes, I think that would be fair to assume…
1:01:13-1:13:08:  The Green Lantern also wrapped up its first season around the same time as HoxPox with issue #12, and Jeff was curious if Graeme had read it.  How the hell is a lovely book with an amazing artist and a superstar writer something so easily summed up by Graeme as “yeah, that’s a comic that happened?”  Also discussed: what happened to the spectrum lantern corps?
1:13:08-1:19:28:  How worried should we be when Jeff starts “worrying” about a comic writer? (It doesn’t always turn out well for Jeff, if nothing else!) Here, he worries about Geoff Johns’ legacy at DC?  Is it being ignored? Actively erased?  Discussed: Doomsday Clock and is it not a big deal anymore for DC?  And what does Siri think about it?
1:19:28-1:30:57: Speaking of Doomsday Clock, those of you interested in reading it without buying it *but* wanting to be legal and legit may want to check out Hoopla, where the first collection hit more or less on day of release.  And although this is the point where you think Jeff is mentioning this as a recommendation for more Whatnauts to look into Hoopla—and it is!—it is also a segue so that Jeff can talk about the Heroes In Crisis collection which he just read, in part based on Graeme’s recent post about it, and wishes to “discuss” it with Graeme (“discuss” apparently being code for “fight about”?)
1:30:57-1:40:41: “DC is all over the place,” Jeff declares, “I’m not paying really attention to Marvel except when they put Conan in something…which means I’m going to be paying a lot more attention to Marvel because apparently they’re putting Conan in everything.”  This leads Graeme to start talking about how Marvel has something for everyone considering they’re currently publishing 125 titles, but walking that back to point out Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl are getting canceled.  But at the same time they’ve announced deals with Scholastic for middle grade books.  They appear to be really upping the amount of titles they publish while at the same time narrowing the range of what they publish.  Also discussed: what is on Jeff’s comic subscription list?
1:40:41-1:45:53: Part of why we’re talking about Jeff’s sub list is because Jeff is trying *really* hard to put himself on a budget and how that works when it comes to comic books.  In theory, considering he subscribes to Marvel Unlimited, DC Universe, Comixology Unlimited, and has access to Hoopla, how hard does he really have to work to read good comics without spending any (more) money?  (Part of why this comes up is Jeff has been power-bingeing Giant Days off CU and *loving* it.)
1:45:53-1:54:33: And! Just as Jeff is bingeing Comixology Unlimited with Giant Days because of Graeme’s continued recommendations of it, Graeme read the first trade of Outer Darkness on Hoopla because of Jeff’s recommendation!
1:54:33-2:08:29: “I just love old Star Trek comics,” Graeme admits, before going on to talk about two very different graphic novels (different from Star Trek comics, anyway): Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, and The Hard Tomorrow by the mighty Eleanor Davis. Also discussed:  our pending top ten lists for 2019.
2:08:29-2:15:19: A discussion of what we’ve read recently on digital pivots away  from Jeff being unable to tell time (Major X #1 came out six months ago?) to, as Graeme brilliantly puts it, the “‘Rob Liefeld threatens to sue Marvel’ part of the news cycle.”  As tempting as it was to cut the “Graeme scrolls through Rob’s Twitter feed while complaining he can’t find the tweet” and save it for what doubtlessly would’ve become a coveted Patreon extra, we decided instead to just boil it down to its richest parts for everyone.  Take that, late stage capitalism!
2:15:19-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.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
Next week: Episode 281!!
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Previously on Drokk!: Things are all good in the 22nd century, as long as you’re a reader from today just visiting Mega-City One for the Thrill Power. After nuclear apocalypse and orangutans being elected to political office, I can only imagine what it’s like to live there…

0:00:00-0:02:44: Welcome, dear friends, to a Drokk! unlike any other, at least insofar that Jeff and I were both poorly when we recorded it, but more importantly, neither of us particularly dug Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 8, the massive slab o’comics that we’re covering this time around. It’s all the Dredds from 2000 AD Prog’s 376 through 423, which is a lot of Judge Dredd, but it was also… a bit of a slog, as we quickly get into.

0:02:45-0:07:51: Is this, as I call it, the “flop sweat volume”? Has the previously untouchable writing team of John Wagner and Alan Grant lost its way, or merely taking a breather while relying all-too-much on a medley of the greatest hits from the strip’s past? If it’s the latter, there’s a problem, as we talk about: This isn’t a book that does the greatest hits any favors.

0:07:52-0:18:42: Almost accidentally, we fall into a discussion of the first extended storyline in the book, “Dredd Angel,” which has some good gags, but little else, raising our ire — mine especially — with the missed opportunities to make some kind of larger point about Dredd’s mission in amongst Liberace references and butt jokes. (No, a different kind of butt.) Jeff, at least, is enamored with the idea of Tulsa melting because of an atomic blast, so there’s that.

0:18:43-0:23:59: If “Dredd Angel” was disappointing, then “Gator” is genuinely wretched thanks to some very poor art choices and a story that feels like it was put together by Wagner and Grant on a series of off-days. In retrospect, this really was a bad omen for what was to come, but as if to make it worthwhile, Jeff teaches me some albino alligator history.

0:24:00-0:44:45: The “Judgment” trilogy — an unofficial way to describe three stories that delve into whether or not Dredd is growing a conscience, and if that’s a good or a bad thing in the world he’s living — is one of the two highlights of this volume, and we unpick how dark the three stories are, the ways in which they subvert audience expectations for this kind of story, and the running gag of Dredd not getting on with accountants. All this plus: Robot children are scary! The creepy institutional stance on emotions when it comes to being a Judge! And: A cliffhanger that stays hung for longer than you’d expect!

0:44:46-0:47:43: Before we get to “City of the Damned,” it’s time for a brief respite when “The Wally Squad,” which boasts some great art by Brett Ewins and, for one episode, “McCarthy” (Brendan? Jim? It’s unclear, but I suspect the former.) The story is light, but Jeff suspects that’s exactly what everyone needs at this point in the book. (We also touch on Jeff’s feelings on the trope of an undercover cop going bad, which is what this story is about.)

0:47:44-1:21:24: “City of the Damned” is the heart of this book in more ways than one — it’s the longest story in here, but it’s also a deeply flawed story that sums up the disappointment of the collection in one fell swoop, with Wagner and Grant seeming disinterested in their own work and featuring some lackluster artwork from Ron Smith. That doesn’t mean that Jeff and I don’t have a bunch to talk about, especially because it brings about a return of Jeff’s obsession with the Shadow Self, which prompts a discussion about whether or not the writers were fully aware, never mind engaged, in the subtext of what they were writing, as well as whether or not Dredd is capable of change — or, at least, whether Wagner and Grant think that he is. We also talk about my nostalgia steering me wrong (not for the first time), the wasted potential of this story, how quickly it goes off the rails, and two ways in which this storyline is echoed in Dredd strips to come. Not bad for something that I describe as “literally a Scooby-Doo chase for 14 episodes.”

1:21:25-1:31:12: Again, if “Dredd Angel” was followed by something disappointing, “City of the Damned” suffers the same fate, with both “The Hunters Club” and especially ‘Monsteroso” utterly underwhelming us in terms of being overlong and unoriginal. (Really, a “robots gone wild” story? We haven’t seen those in, what, seven or eight volumes?) Oh, and then there’s the casual racism — and appalling denouement — of the firestarter storyline, as well. Jeff makes a reference to a mention in Thrill Power Overload about how burned out everyone at 2000 AD was feeling at this point, and, really? You can tell.

1:31:13-1:42:23: It’s not all bad news, though, as “Sunday Night Fever” brings Cam Kennedy on art and a story that has genuine weight to it, especially considering the era in which it was created. Out of nowhere, it’s as if Wagner and Grant have remembered that Dredd can be used to actually say something about the world. We also talk briefly about two other strips of note, both of which focus on the idea that Judges really shouldn’t have feelings — which is probably the running theme of this collection, all things considered. Also: the Judges really don’t care about the citizens of Mega-City One, but do like the idea of lasering people’s brains just a little bit too much.

1:42:24-end: We wrap up by talking about what might have gone wrong with this volume to make it such a disappointment, from exhaustion on Wagner and Grant’s part to an over reliance on gimmicks, references and cheap jokes. (Introducing my unlikely reference to Darby and Joan!) The volume is enough of a disappointment that both Jeff and I point out that we probably wouldn’t recommend it to any newcomers, but at least Jeff and I agree on the highlights to be found inside. Before too long, we’re talking about our Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Patreon, and then looking forward to next month’s Case Files Vol. 9 read-through. (I completely forgot it has “The Midnight Surfer” storyline, despite the fact that this volume ends promising that next prog! I am a disappointment to everyone.) As always, thanks for reading and listening. Splundig Vur Thrigg, as the kids say.

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I’ve talked on the podcast about the emotional rollercoaster that was Heroes in Crisis for me; I was underwhelmed, then slightly more whelmed, and back and forth — slightly more on the under side, admittedly — until a final issue that, at the time, felt as if it earned a lot of goodwill back merely by going for a sentimental, illogical fix that felt emotionally right, even if I could see why a million fans would disagree. So, when the collected edition ended up in my mailbox, I figured, why not read the whole thing in one sitting, and see how it holds up?

So, there’s some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that Heroes in Crisis worked a lot better for me on this read-through, for a number of reasons; the bad news is that many of those reasons center around the idea that — having read the series through before, I was less distracted by things like, “Failing to live up to preconceptions set by the work and its promotional material” this time around. That seems… kind of like a problem…?

Let’s get this out of the way first: Heroes in Crisis fails as a murder mystery, I think, not least of all because the murders are revealed to be manslaughters with some evidence tampering after the fact. Additionally, there’s the fact that the comic is an unreliable narrator, with the reader seeing two (equally untrue) interpretations of the deaths at different points in the series, in an attempt to misdirect the reader while also setting up the eventual reveal. (The comic is actually so unreliable that it’s still unclear to me after multiple readings whether an on-panel death in the third issue points to a last-minute rewrite of the big reveal, or else another purposeful misdirect that’s setting up the big reveal. That, too, is a problem.)

It’s also not, despite the way the book was marketed, a “big” story. Indeed, it’s almost obtusely the opposite — it’s purposefully internal and insular, and the eventual big reveal is literally, “I kept everything to myself and then when I didn’t, it killed everybody” — and, although the “trinity” of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman appear, they’re far from the main characters of the book; indeed, Wonder Woman is barely present, which honestly feels like a mistake upon re-reading, if only to counter-balance the omnipresent maleness of the story. (It’s literally one where the phrase “Bros before Heroes” is used in two different, important, scenes.)

And yet… if you can divorce Heroes in Crisis from the context it was originally placed in — which it arguably places itself in, thanks to the fake-out of the murder mystery introduction — it’s a far better comic that it’s given credit for. Or, at least, that I was giving it credit for. There’s a subtlety at play in the writing that got lost in serialization, especially amid the expectations the series had at the time — knowing the end from the start, you can see that King actually lays clues and foreshadowing in place far earlier than it would seem; outside of the plot, there’s a lot of really nice character work, even if it can seem at odds with the way we expect some of those characters to act — and a surprising humor to the whole thing, as well, despite the obvious grimness of the whole thing.

(Re-reading this, I started to feel as if Tom King is a Marvel writer in some deep way; he writes characters as characters and eschews the good guy/bad guy dynamic that I think DC thrives on, to some extent. There’s a moral ambiguity and a need to portray everyone as flawed, rather than iconic, that feels as if it’s more suited to Marvel’s sense of mythology than DC’s. Which, of course, might be why he’s been so successful at DC. Never doubt the power of counter-programming.)

I feel like I should say something about the art, but I’m not sure what. Clay Mann is a strong superhero artist, and he draws really attractive figures that, for the most part, emote what King needs. There’s an element of female objectification throughout that’s distracting and, at times, overwhelms the moment that Mann should be selling, which is disappointing; Travis Moore is a capable fill-in to accompany Mann without the seams being obvious on some pages, and the other two artists — Lee Weeks and Mitch Gerads — are very good at what they do, and they do it capably. Yet, it’s not really an especially visual book, despite double page spreads for each title reveal that were clearly created with the intent of allowing Mann to show off. Honestly, the most notable thing about the visuals for Heroes in Crisis for me might be just how great Tomeu Morey’s colors are.

It remains a messy book, with moments where I read and thought, oh, really? even now, being more generous towards it. (Hello, the “She sent it 35 seconds ago” line, or Gnarrk quoting Keats in a full page splash.) It’s definitely overly ambitious, and could have benefited from a firmer editorial hand to keep it from losing focus. Yet, for a book about trauma and the pressure of living up to expectations — of, really, failing to live up to expectations, in many ways — it feels right, in some way, for it to be such a mess in the ways in which it’s a mess. It feels consistent, or coherent, perhaps. Right, in some way.

I’m glad I re-read it, and found new things to appreciate in it, but doing so also just made it particularly clear how Heroes in Crisis failed to measure up to what it appeared to be, when it first launched. How much that matters — how much it will matter to readers going forward, reading it separate from the pre-release hype of the original run — is, I suspect, something that will up to each and every individual reader’s personal preference. YMMV, as the kids once said, in other words.

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Hey, everyone—Jeff here.  My apologies for show notes on the truncated side of things this time around:  as alluded to in this ep., I’m kinda running around in all directions this week (hence the video above) for good reasons I hope to explain one day (before the end of the year?).  For now, I hope you’ll be able to get by on the shownotes below and your just-about-weekly dose of Graeme and me fussin’ and feudin’ comic book style!

0:01-13:49:  Greetings from Graeme “Sound of The Underground” McMillan and Jeff “Coasting” Lester! We’ve had a day, and Graeme has had a week, a week filled with situations like the one he goes on to describe involving some very good thoughts about working hard, and some very silly interjections from Jeff.
13:49-27:29:  Because we were engaging in some gossipy bitchery, Jeff felt compelled to mention how much he enjoyed Mr. Sinister in the latest issue of Powers of X by Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva and Marte Gracia. And Jeff also enjoyed Gwenpool Strikes Back #2 by Leah Williams, David Baldeon, Jesus Aburtov, and Batman #78 by Tom King, Clay Mann, and Tomeu Morey. There may or may not be spoilers for the City of Bane storyline, depending on how things go? And there’s definitely discussion about whether DC will have a reboot, and where it’ll come from.
27:29-35:29:  Remember last week’s discussion of Doomsday Clock?  It’s back, kinda, because Graeme re-read the first eleven issues of Doomsday Clock by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson.  Also discussed: landing the ending; how many copies of Watchmen Graeme owns; and more.
35:29-42:19:  To prove that we are lovers as well as haters, Jeff asks Graeme about Graeme’s tweet asking what Marvel and DC books are being slept on:

And there was also this lovely little thread by Gail Simone on Twitter re: 25 great things about being a comics professional:

42:19-51:07:  As long as we’re  talking about the good shit, both Jeff and Graeme read the five issue run on Mars Attacks by Kyle Starks, Chris Schweitzer, and Liz Trice Schweitzer.  Starks has said that this storyline is one of the best things he’s done and we’re compelled to second that. Jeff compares and contrasts it with Mars Attacks Popeye from a few years back with *tremendous* Popeye art by Terry Beatty.
51:07-57:09: Thanks to the tweets of the talented Sarah Horrocks, Jeff was turned on to the first issue of Ryuko by Eldo Yoshimizu.  Graeme likes what he sees from the previews, and Jeff loved the brio of the art and the expressionistic storytelling. Great stuff.
57:09-1:12:23: And speaking of great stuff, holy cow, Batman Universe #3 by Brian Michael Bendis, Nick Derington, and Dave Stewart.  The cartooning, the coloring, and the fun of BMB’s scripting of this makes this one of our DC faves.
1:12:23-1:17:07: Another book Jeff has all the feels for:  volume 2 of Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist’s Journey by Akiko Higashimura, which was just released in English by Seven Seas.  Higashimura is better known as the creator of the popular Princess Jellyfish but the first two volumes rocked Jeff’s world and as he says here and elsewhere is fantastic reading for anyone who’s tried to become an artist.
1:17:07-1:20:18:  Graeme re-read the first two issues of  SFSX (Safe Sex) by Tina Horn and Michael Dowling, the book that was supposed to be launched as part of Vertigo’s legendary Last Wave but is now coming out soon from Image.  Graeme definitely recommends not just the book on the first issue alone as the one-two punch is part of what sold him, as did Tina Horn’s straight-up awesomeness and the fact that, as he puts it, “it feels like a book that needs to be out there.”
1:20:18-1:32:50: And Jeff is going to mention that he digs the second volume of romance novel turned manga, Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray and Yusaku Komiyama. He also talks about Star Wars in a Japanese context and how nicely Komiyama’s adaptation fits into that.  We also talk about the current crop of American Star Wars comics, and Kieron Gillen’s recent run with Salvador Larroca there.
1:32:50-2:05:00: Speaking of Marvel and licensed properties, Graeme has a question for Jeff—why is Marvel doing a Conan/Moon Knight event, called Serpent War.  (With Solomon Kane! And Dark Agnes!  And also…Dark Agnes?)  But in order to dig into that, we look briefly at the recent sales figures and trends in the marketplace.  Pick a side in the battle between Dear Justice League Truthers vs. Conan Truthers, cue up Pump Up The Volume, and wade into the melee!
2:05:00-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.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
Next week:  Skip week, but join us in two weeks for Drokk!!
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0:01-7:58:  Greetings from Graeme “It’s Not Fucking Sweltering” McMillan and Jeff “Eschew Hyperbole” Lester!  It’s been a while so even after we stop talking about the weather, we have questions—important questions!—to answer about the song Wooly Bully, pillow talk (though not in the way that term’s traditionally used), visual cues, and….
7:58-39:18: Doomsday Clock!  Issue #11 is out, and while it’s too soon to discuss the limited series with any degree of finality, it is perhaps time for Graeme to talk about the arc of the series, the trend of issues #10 and #11, and some reflection on Watchmen and the career of one Geoff “Ozymandias” Johns.  Kick off your shoes and settle in to your chair because this’ll take a while.  (Though not nearly as long as the times between issues of Doomsday Clock.)
39:18-55:53: Pivoting: Tox Jox Blox HoxPox!  Checking in about the weekly Jonathan Hickman x-event, we admit we are both….exhausted?  We talk scheduling, characterization, the strengths of Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva (on House of X and Powers of X, respectively, the charms of Avengers: No Surrender, and books that we don’t read immediately and those we do.
55:53-1:12:41: Talking about pacing ourselves, we briefly discuss the stuff Graeme’s just recently caughtt up on and that leads in to a quick (spoiler-free!) chat about the upcoming issue of Batman by Tom King and Clay Mann and then really digging into the latest issue of The Green Lantern by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp.  Graeme had wandered away from the book and wandered back to see the lead-in to the upcoming Green Lantern: Blackstars book.  Jeff, who is hanging on to interest in the book by his fingernails wants to talk about, among other things, why?  Why is Morrison doing what he’s choosing to do with this book?
1:12:41-1:30:14: Relatedly, a superhero book we are both loving is the current run of Daredevil. Jeff just read Daredevil: Know Fear, the trade collecting the first five issues by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, and Sunny Gho. Jeff thinks it’s a great book for fans of the Netflix show, and Graeme thinks it’s just a great book, period.  Also discussed: Tom Taylor on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man; Savage Avengers #5; Infinity Wars; and more.
1:30:14-1:41:23: Another book Jeff has greatly enjoyed—and without a superhero in sight—is My Pink is Overflowing by Yuki Minnou about a cafe waitress who needs to be loved and the uptight, scowly manager with whom she comes to an agreement.  Some day Jeff will come up with a better description of volume 1 than “less of a story and more the equivalent of two nervous dogs trying to sniff each other’s butts for 300 pages,” but that day is not today.  (Spoilers for vol. 3!  Not that the plot is really the point of My Pink Is Overflowing.)  Also discussed: Vinland Saga, manga vs. anime, and more.
1:41:23-1:52:04: The anime angle gives Jeff a chance to ask Graeme about what he’s watching these days.  Discussed:  Million Pound Menu, No Offence, the most current season of The Great British Baking Show which inspired this delightful thread by CalamityJon:

[HQ]

1:52:04-2:02:27: As for what Graeme has been reading, he’s been reading a lot of prep stuff for work (though he’s quite enjoyed them).  Stuff like: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh; Sparrowhawk by Delilah Dawson, Matias Basla, and Rebecca Nalty; The Magicians: Alice’s Story by Lilah Sturges, Lev Grossman, and Pius Bak; The Blue Road: A Fable of Migration by Wayde Compton and April dela Noche Milne; The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television by Koren Shadmi; Battle Stations, the first volume in the upcoming Hugo Pratt War Picture Library series; the book design of The Batman Who Laughs; and more.
2:02:27-2:14:17: And, saving the best (?) for last (?), Graeme read Spawn #300!  Discussed: SPAWN!; Graeme teasing us about an hour long interview he conducted with Todd McFarlane; and more.
2:14:17-end: Closing comments?  Kind of!  I mean, sure, after we diss Gus Van Sant, news about The Joker gets the Golden Lion Award. And, well, okay, we also have to mention the mayor of Rio de Janeiro wanting to ban The Avengers: Children’s Crusade; and then finally… 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.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
Next week:  Episode 279! Join us, won’t you?
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Previously on Drokk!: The Apocalypse War ended two volumes ago, but it perhaps should come as a surprise that the aftermath of nuclear conflict takes awhile to work itself through. The real surprise may be that writers Alan Grant and John Wagner make it seem so entertaining…

0:00:00-0:01:31: Speedier than usual — and more scattered, because someone (it’s me) has forgotten how we normally start these episodes — we introduce ourselves as well as the fact that, this episode, we’re covering Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 7, which includes episodes from 2000 AD Prog’s 322-375, publishing in 1983 and 1984.

0:01:32-0:11:31: Jeff and I disagree on what the defining feature of this collection is; for Jeff, it’s comedy, for me, I’m struck by the existential horror that life in Mega-City One has become by this point, calling these stories “bleak in ways the series has never been.” Perhaps that’s why Jeff thinks that this is the closest the series has gotten yet to the platonic ideal of Dredd as a strip in his head — or maybe it’s the level of craft on display in these stories, as Wagner and Grant continue to push at the edges of what Judge Dredd as a comic can be.

0:11:32-0:24:35: We talk about the fact that, in this volume, Mega-City One feels more out of control than ever, and also about the grim humor — and perhaps misanthropy — that propels so much of the writing in this collection, whether directly, as in the “High Society” one-off story, or obliquely, as in a story in which the public votes an orangutan into office. This is a volume in which Wagner and Grant seem to be becoming more interested in Mega-City One citizens than they are the titular hero, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they like them.

0:24:36-0:32:47: All of that leads us into a discussion on world building, and how seemingly effortless it’s become by this point — even when such world building seems to overwrite what other creators (Pat Mills, ahem) have done earlier in the strip. Or is it just reinforcing what has come before?

0:32:48-0:49:16: By this point in the run, Judge Dredd as a strip — and Wagner and Grant as a writing team — have perfected the idea of writing for multiple audiences at once, which means that Jeff and I talk about the multiple layers to be found in these stories, whether it’s literary shout-outs or an unexpected number of superhero references that are found in this volume in particular. Are there implicit digs at Alan Moore to be found? Are Wagner and Grant just entertaining themselves as they work their hearts out? And what does this do to tonal whiplash, versus tonal consistency? All is under discussion!

0:49:17-1:05:47: Just how prescient is the strip at this point? I say that it’s feeling far more in tune with the world today than I expected, or necessarily am comfortable with — shades of how Jeff was feeling last episode — and we end up talking about what Jeff calls the “uncanny valley” of topicality in the strip, and how much of it is actually predicting the future, versus just paying attention to humanity and history.

1:05:48-1:28:03: We talk about “The Graveyard Shift,” the seven-episode storyline that seems to be the heart of this volume, and just how overwhelming it is, as well as what it does in terms of world building but also character building for Dredd and for Mega-City One as the most obvious supporting character in the strip. Plus: How funny is this volume?

1:28:04-1:38:46: From “The Graveyard Shift,” we go to another handful of storylines in the book, whether it’s “Citizen Snork,” “The Haunting of Sector House 9” or the untitled training of Rookie Judge Decker that closes the book out, and delivers a great character both of us hope we see again. But: is the fact that Judge Dredd as a strip seems like it can actually do any kind of story what gives the strip its power by his point? Jeff suggests that’s the case, and as usual, he’s probably right.

1:38:47-1:47:03: This is, once again, just a great looking book, and we talk about that: The presence of Steve Dillon, Brett Ewins and Cam Kennedy can’t be overlooked, and the variety of visual styles on display is something that Jeff feels particularly strongly about. So much so, in fact, that he won’t let me complain too much about Ian Gibson. (It’s such a good looking book that Ian Gibson is the weak point. Just think about that!)

1:47:04-end: Attempting to close things out, I have a couple of final questions: Are the Judges seeming different in the book — because they seem kinder to me at a couple of important moments — and what are our favorite stories? For Jeff, it’s “Haunting of Sector House 9,” and for me, “The Graveyard Shift.” We briefly talk about the fact that Wagner and Grant’s shockingly heavy workload at the point these comics were being produced might have made them even better writers, and then we wrap up by mentioning the usual Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Patreon links to visit. Next month: Vol. 8, and an abandoned mega-epic awaits! As usual, thank you for listening and reading.

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0:01-02:07:  Greetings from Graeme “Oh My Stars & Garters” McMillan and Jeff “Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God” Lester! Our intro is a bit different than usual because instead of diving right in to talking to each other, we instead take a moment to explain about how we are and what we do.  Is this our attempt to be more inclusive to new listeners?  Heck, no!  It’s our attempt to be more inclusive to our special guest, Mr. Steve Englehart!  The writer, raconteur, and mastermind behind dozens of classic stories helps us celebrate Wait, What’s tenth anniversary by joining us for a nearly two hour chat.  So without further ado…
2:07-20:19:  Graeme kicks off the questioning by asking about SE’s entrance into the comics industry—one of our very favorite comics writers started off as an artist.  How and when did that change? Discussed:  the first Marvel story SE wrote; The Beast’s series in Amazing Adventures (issues #12-17); confidence; working Marvel method vs. full script; working on Detective Comics; working with artists who won’t draw your plot; and more.
20:19-24:35: Speaking a bit more about the Marvel method, Jeff asks if the method as Englehart’s preferred working was aided by some of the very tight collaborations with artists and friends in the early days of SE’s career:  Discussed:  working with Frank Brunner, Jim Starlin, and Al Milgrom on Captain Marvel and West Coast Avengers.
24:35-40:29: Graeme asks about how the early days of Englehart’s career—where he was living the dream of working alongside friends in the The Bullpen—contrasted with his return to working on comics in the Eighties. Did he see the change in the comics industry happening toward what it would become when he came back?  Discussed:  the shadowban of the word supervillain; Shooter vs. DeFalco; the end of the Marvel age and the end of Englehart’s run on the Fantastic Four; Jeff’s melodramatic RL fanfic; and more.
40:29-55:36: I think everyone should give Graeme McMillan so many kudos for managing to hold out for forty full minutes before asking about The New Guardians!  (To be fair to Graeme, it is a brilliant tie-in to talking about the end of Englehart’s work at Marvel because the New Guardians represented the end of his work at DC.  Discussed:  sex, drugs, and rock & roll; Snowflame!; devil’s advocate, devil’s devil’s advocate, and devil’s devil’s devil’s advocate with mention of storylines in Green Lantern Corps and West Coast Avengers; Coyote as a comic outside the Comics Code that takes its cues from Englehart experiencing freedom as a novelist; crafting stories with recognizable characters inside and outside the Comics Code; using the X-Men during their lost era; and more.
55:36-1:08:38: Graeme has an “entirely random” question for Steve: “How did you get involved in video games?”  Discussed: an epiphany via Dick Giordano; Ted Richards and Dopin’ Dan; writing for video games; The Tribe project at Atari (in the early 2000s) and Games.com; 21st Century pop culture; and more.
1:08:38-1:32:34:  They’re doing a Shang-Chi movie (as we’re all aware)!  That must be an odd and amazing feeling for SE, right? Discussed: Starlord; royalties and revenue streams and Marvel//Disney vs. DC; looking for movies and TV licensing with the self-owned properties; having readers and instant feedback for your work; a deep cut question about the letters page of Captain America #148, and a question (or two) about comic continuity and whether it has a limited shelf life; The Malibu Ultraverse and why those characters and stories have not returned despite some initial plans;  and more.
1:32:34-1:50:03: Could Steve see himself working for Marvel again? Or DC?  The answers may surprise you!  (By which I mean: Jeff.  It definitely surprised Jeff.)  Also discussed: Hollywood’s interest in making comic book movies; the difficulty of doing that well; the reinvention of Batman (again!); comics as a collaborative force; favorite comic book artists; the Buscema brothers; and more.
1:50:03-end:  “Do you still love superheroes.  Do you still read comics?” Jeff apologizes (a lot!) and we thank Steve Englehart (hopefully even more?) for joining us. Instead of our regular closing comments, we had to just go recline on the divan and recover.  (So much so, that next week is a skip week—we will return in two weeks with a new episode of Drokk!!)  But I will say here that you can 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, as we’ll be recovering.  But join us in two weeks for the seventh episode of Drokk!!
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0:01-10:36:  Greetings from Graeme “Derry Girls” McMillan and Jeff “New Mic, Old Mac” Lester!  We hope you like our occasional forays into non-comic book talk, because that is definitely how we start out episode 276!  Like the smoothest of stones, we skip from Keyser Soze to Derry Girls to Hobbs & Shaw to one of your hosts moving to artisanal cobwebs in under two minutes.
10:36-22:26: But, hey, we do swerve back to comic news before too long, as we discuss a pretty interesting tidbit recently come to light:  Rob Liefeld doesn’t own the rights to Youngblood!  Weird, right?  And yet somehow true?  Also discussed: buying Comico, licensing Amazing Heroes, and more.
22:26-25:01: Back to Hobbs & Shaw!  Did you know Drew Pearce, who wrote No Heroics and Iron Man 3, also wrote H&S?  That’s pretty cool right?
25:01-1:03:59: But since neither of us have seen Hobbs & Shaw, Jeff goes on to talk about Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood.  No spoilers, sorta?  (Depending on how well you know Tarantino films, we probably give away by what you can infer from our discussion.)  We talk about this problematic movie from this problematic auteur and Jeff’s thoughts and feelings about the movie being (surprise!) troubled (and probably problematic).  Also discussed:  Tarantino movies; feet; ER and X-Files; Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Joss Whedon’s new series, The Nevers; and Neil Gaiman’s work for Marvel.
1:03:59-1:18:49:  Speaking of which, guess what Graeme just reread this last week?  No joke, it’s The Eternals by Neil Gaiman and John Romita, Jr.!  As you know, bagging on Neil Gaiman is like catnip for Jeff, but Graeme manages to get some good points in there.  Discussed;  the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and where The Eternals might help or hinder that; and more.
1:18:49-1:22:39:  Hey, that Powers of X #1 came out this week from Jonathan Hickman and R. B. Silva and it sure was something, wasn’t it?  We talk about how ambitious and crazy and impressive it was, and what ends up exciting comics readers, Paul O’Brien doing annotations for House of X and Powers of X (yay!!!); and more.
1:22:39-1:29:26: Batman: Last Knight on Earth #2 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is out and Jeff is digging on it.  But is he reading Justice League?  And if not, why?
1:29:26-1:44:51: Two hits and then a stunning miss:  The Green Lantern Annual #1 by Grant Morrison and Giuseppe Camuncoli. It’s not our cup of tea, in no small part because it’s terrible.
1:44:51-1:52:28: We circle back to Powers of X #1 because, as we were saying earlier, it sure was something!  We talk more about what that something is, and we debate whether or not we can really talk full-on spoilers or not?  Graeme talks a few things that may or may not be spoilers, depending on how things turn out.  We kick in with this at theory at 1:49:01 and it only lasts for a few minutes and is really just spoilery theories, I guess?
1:52:28-1:56:46:  Also impossible to  spoil is Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-san, a very goofy little book by Shingo Honda about the trials and tribulations of working in the manga section of a Japanese bookstore and dealing with, among other things, westerners needing help finding their disquieting manga selections?
1:56:46-2:03:37: One of the ongoing joys of DC Universe for Jeff is that more often than not every week they upload an issue of Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane #9, featuring Pat Boone.
2:03:37-2:07:44: Speaking of DCUniverse, Jeff has *finally* checked out Doom Patrol right?  Well, wrong.  Here more about his self-defeating TV choices.  We also have a fast update about Graeme’s read of The Boys and how it reflects on the TV show.
2:07:44-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.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
Next week:  STEVE ENGLEHART
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0:01-18:33:  Greetings from Graeme “Back From The Wars” McMillan and Jeff “Loverman” Lester!  We only have time for the briefest of Billy Bragg references before we’re off to the coverage of San Diego Comic-Con 2019, as only our embedded correspondent can provide!  It was a very weird show, with some strange arrangements and a lot of off-kilter preparation.  It’s not worth putting a time stamp but at one point, Graeme mentions that the combined DC/Warner Brothers booth was so big Jeff’s apartment could’ve fit in it four times.  Well, in editing this, Jeff checked with Edi (who actually has an ability to remember numbers and understand spatial relationships), and ran the actual booth size—two floors of 6500 square feet total—and the actual answer?  Jeff and Edi’s apartment could fit in that total square footage EIGHT TIMES. Also discussed: the Strange Adventures announcement from DC; the Undiscovered Country announcement from Image; the Hickman announcement panel at Marvel; the panels Graeme moderated; and more.
18:33-23:20: I don’t know if I can cleanly split this stuff up, but here’s where we started talking about Marvel Studio’s announcements for their upcoming film slate.  Graeme lists them out, along with the Disney+ TV shows.  And then we whipsaw back to the new X-Men titles announced at the Hickman reveal panel, along with some fun facts revealed there.
23:20-29:00: But here’s what Graeme thinks may have been the biggest story to come out SDCC and it seems like it’s been super-slept on:  Comichub which does point of sales software in the retail market, has announced a partnership with NPD Group, and so sales will be entered into Bookscan.  Retailers who use Comichub POS software will have their sales counted by Bookscan *and* will also have access to Bookscan data.  This could be a huge boon for those retailers and help gain a better understanding of total sales for comics and graphic novels (which, as Hibbs will tell you, is pretty tricky stuff to try and even remotely guess at).  For Jeff, there was the announcement of IDW collecting all of Steve Ditko’s Mr. A, and the disquieting acknowledgment (when someone asked) that Ditko quite specifically did not want the material reprinted.  Discussed: It’s problematic.

29:00-38:57:  From out of the problematic frying pan and into the problematic fire, we talk about HBO’s Watchmen Comic-Con trailer and Damon Lindelof’s comments at the Television Critics Association about his relationship to Moore’s reaction to the show. (comic by Kenny Keil).

38:57-1:07:49:  Here’s some good news from SDCC.  Doom Patrol the TV show?  It got a Season Two, and pretty much thanks to HBO Max.  I for one welcome our corporate synergistic overlords!  Also discussed:  the Harley Quinn animated show trailer.  Also discussed: The Great British Bake-Off; the secret behind Midsommar; the offsite Batman experience; the transition of SDCC from being a movie-based convention to a TV-based convention; the most popular cosplay of the show, maybe?; Kevin Huizenga’s The River At Night; new work by Adrian Tomine, Lisa Hannawalt, and more; what Graeme spent too much money on; the difference between New York Comic-Con and San Diego Comic Con; and much, much more.

1:07:49-1:28:16:  Graeme has watched all eight episodes of The Boys on Amazon Prime, and he…liked it?! So much so that he went and got the omnibi off Hoopla and is re-reading them?  UNEXPECTED! Discussed: how faithful the adaptation is, who seems to like and who doesn’t on social media, the differences made and their effects; Ennis and his thematic concerns, early Boys with Darick Robertson and later Boys with Russ Braun; the original pitch for The Boys.  (And yet, this is mostly a spoiler-free review?)

1:28:16-1:32:54: As long as we’re talking about shows on Amazon Prime, also on Prime is Under The Silver Lake, the follow-up film from It Follows director David Robert Mitchell starring Andrew Garfield, a comedic L.A. noir that mulls over Mulholland Dr., Hitchcock films, Pynchon novels, conspiracy theories and cultural legacies. Jeff really wants to talk about it and talk about it and talk about it, but you guys all get off lucky.
1:32:54-1:42:24:  However, all of that is probably the perfect prelude to talking about House of X #1 by Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, and Marte Gracia.  It’s a big batch of comics in one (not cheap but still satisfying!) issue and we muse over its mysteries and finding that comic book sweet spot.
1:42:24-2:00:35:  But Jeff may be fronting a bit on the superhero score.  He loved House of X #1, he read and liked some other superhero books—here’s looking at you, Batman Universe #1—but what was really his jam these last few weeks was fourteen volumes of You’re My Pet by Yayoi Ogawa.  Jeff adores the cartooning, the characterization and the storytelling and it’s all available to those who have a Comixology Unlimited subscription.  Also discussed: the first volume of Mars, more of a Shojo manga (You’re My Pet seems to be much more Josei, for these keeping track at home) similarly available on CU by Fuyumi Soryo.  Also discussed: Jimmy Olsen #1 by Matt Fraction, Steve Lieber, and Nathan Fairbairn; Superman: Up In the Sky #1 by Tom King, Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope, and Brad Anderson; Batman #75 by Tom King, Tony S. Daniel, Mitch Gerads, and Mitch Gerads; and Bad Weekend TPB by Ed Brubaker and Sean & Jacob Phillips.  Also discussed: the end of Walking Dead and reaction about it at SDCC; the resurgence of Todd McFarlane; and more.
2:00:35-2:14:29:  Graeme read the aforementioned Huizenga book; got a lot of print stuff from 2000 A.D.; and he runs Jeff through The Batman Who Laughs miniseries, a mini Graeme thought he was only an issue or two behind on but in fact hadn’t checked it out after issue #1.  It’s…. a very strange little series?
2:14:29-2:20:25: Oh, and Jeff also tried to get his ass in gear and get out of the big two rut, and read The Wrong Earth #1 and #2 by Tom Peyer, Jamal Igle, Juan Castro, and Andy Troy; and Second Coming #1 by Mark Russell, Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk, and Andy Troy, both published by Ahoy Comics.  He liked one and loved the other.  Care to wager which is which, Mr. Bond? (And for bonus points, Mr. Bond, can you tell us how Irredeemable ends? Oh wait, never mind, we’ve both checked Wikipedia by now.)
2:20:25-end:  Closing comments, interspersed with apologies!  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:  Pretty sure it’ll be Episode 276!!
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Previously on Drokk!: Mega-City One as we know it — or, at least, as we’ve gotten to know it over the previous five episodes — is no more, as the result of the Apocalypse War, a storyline that both redefined the world Dredd lives in and the strip that’s named after him. But what can you do after that kind of monolithic event?

 

0:00:00-0:09:05: We quickly get into things, introducing that we’re talking about Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 6 and diving into the fact that neither of us really knew quite what to expect in the fallout of the last volume — a feeling only amplified by the fact that the first storyline features a wrestling robot called Precious Leglock.

0:09:06-0:19:11: Jeff has a theory about this volume, and it’s that John Wagner and Alan Grant are using the stories in this volume to set out their theory of the Judges and where they stand on the fascism of it all, prompted not only by this volume, but also what’s happening in the world at this moment. I also have a theory about what Wagner and Grant are doing as it relates to the Judges and judicial overreach in the wake of the Apocalypse War… but then, there’s all this weird humor getting in the way of the darkness…!

0:19:12-0:40:48: We dig into the unevenness of this book — never in terms of quality, but in terms of story and tone, certainly, with the combination of darkness and comedy being something we talk about. We also talk about cultural insensitivity in Wagner and Grant’s writing, and also the way the line of what’s acceptable culturally has shifted in the 30+ years since these stories were first published, and also the debt Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers may owe Judge Dredd, in terms of the use of satirical propaganda as storytelling tool. All this, and a tiny little note about a sneaky change in the world building of the strip, as the Cursed Earth sneaks inside the walls of Mega-City One.

0:40:49-0:53:01: In a volume where almost everything else is in constant flux, Wagner and Grant remain the constant, writing every strip. As they push against expectations for what Judge Dredd is as a character and a strip — in the process, pretty much demolishing those expectations by showing off how versatile the latter can be — Jeff and I talk about the way in which the writers are setting out their command and control of the series. And, getting back to Jeff’s theory, is this the volume where the two decide that the ultimate purpose of Dredd is simply to entertain?

0:53:02-1:18:06: We turn, eventually, to our favorite stories from the volume, beginning with mine: “Destiny’s Angels,” in which Wagner, Grant and Carlos Ezquerra take what would in someone else’s hands be a very dramatic epic and push it in an ever-more silly direction, leading to us talking about the multi-layered approach of the writing in Dredd. There’s also an impressively over-the-top conclusion to the story, which prompts Jeff to use the phrase “This remarkable achievement in the world’s grimmest whimsy,” which feels very appropriate, considering.

1:18:07-1:58:44: Then, to Jeff’s favorite story in the volume, “Shantytown,” which has a particular hold over him, as he explains. It brings a lot of subjects with it, not least of which the inherent fascism of the Judge system and Judge Dredd as a comic strip, and how complicit both the readers and the creators are in supporting that. Amongst the many things under discussion: Is “Shantytown” an occupation story in which we’re expected to root for the occupation force merely because it’s their name on the series’ title? Are the Judges evil? Are Wagner and Grant co-signing onto a cruel, dehumanizing system? What constitutes a happy ending, and what undercuts one? Is Dredd inherently trustworthy, despite everything? Is anyone else surprised by Jeff dropping a Mitchell & Webb reference? Okay, that one’s not actually discussed, but still.

1:58:45-2:19:59: We move onto other things that are particularly grim about this volume, including the unofficial imposition of martial law and constant growth of the Judges’ power in this volume. Does this represent the most honest depiction of political power in comics, and if so, is that accidental, considering that 2000 AD was still very much a kids’ comic at the time these episodes were printed? Also, we talk about Jeff’s fear that Wagner and Grant may have fascist tendencies based on comics’ history of important creators drifting in that direction, and once again touch on the idea that the tension in Wagner’s writing in particular when it comes to the idea that the Judges serve a purpose in their community is an important one to Judge Dredd as an overall strip.

2:20:00-end: We wrap things up with mention of the fact that, for those showing up at San Diego Comic-Con this week, I’m going to be on the Judge Dredd: Satire or Super-Cop panel on Thursday afternoon, before going into the usual mention of Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter, not to mention our Patreon. Next month, we’ll be back with Vol. 7, in which there are werewolves, competitive eating contests and, most importantly, the arrival on the strip of Cam Kennedy. As always, thanks for listening.

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