Previously on Baxter Building: Surprise! You thought that we brought this to an end two and a half years ago, but no! Baxter Building is back — for one episode only!

0:00:00-0:03:11: We introduce this episode, and the context behind it; basically, we’re a surprise installment of Shelfdust’s Secritic Invasion summer crossover, where Marvel’s 2008 event is re-examined from today’s hopefully more enlightened perspective. What that means for us in particular is that we’re reading and talking about Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four, a three-issue tie-in that sees the return of a beloved character from the old Baxter Building days. Well, “beloved” might be a little too strong, perhaps…

0:03:12-0:15:16: Before we get to the miniseries, we talk a little about Baxter Building and how it compares to Drokk! — as well as how Dredd fared post Wagner/Grant split, compared with how the Fantastic Four handled the Lee/Kirby break-up. (The latter has “car crash energy,” according to Jeff.) We also talk about how much we miss the Fantastic Four, and how both of us feel about the current Dan Scott run, kind of. (Well, I do, at least.)

0:15:17-0:23:59: Still playing for time, we talk about Secret Invasion as a wider event, and how poorly it reads today. (Not that it read that well the first time around, arguably.) Of note, we touch on the event’s implicit bigotry, and I refer to Ritesh Babu’s essay on Shelfdust, even if I couldn’t remember his last name at the time; go read the piece, it’s a good one.

0:24:00-0:58:29: We finally get to the heart of the matter, and talk about the actual Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four series — and just how bad it actually is. This means that we talk about the (many) failures in Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s writing, and how it compares to the Archie work that arguably made his name, as well as how poorly paced and oddly tension-resistant this series is in particular. Also under discussion: the Negative Zone prison left over from Civil War; how no-one can write convincing children, and why that might not even be possible when it comes to Franklin and Valeria Richards anymore; and the ways in which this series does and doesn’t connect to the core Secret Invasion comic.

0:58:30-1:01:17: Jeff makes a brief case for Bendis’ Secret Invasion inspiring the 2012 Avengers movie, but I’m not buying it.

1:01:18-1:11:11: It’s not just Aguirre-Sacasa who disappoints here; Barry Kitson is the penciller, and we talk about how unexciting his work here is, as well as how many people are inking that work, and the fact that it seems as if no-one involved in this series really seems to want to be making it.

1:11:12-end: As we wrap things up, we ask ourselves the important questions: Did this one three-issue series kill our nostalgia for both Baxter Building and the Fantastic Four? How does nostalgia stand up to a re-read, anyway? And did Pixar’s The Incredibles destroy the Fantastic Four as-was, and create something else in its wake? You know, just a couple of small things. We also discuss Jeff’s health, as well as mention the Patreon, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, as is our wont. We’ll back back next week for a regular Wait, What?, and you’ll be happy to know that Drokk! is back next month as usual, too. Until then: thanks for reading and listening.

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0:01-4:27: Greetings!  Remember when talking about the weather was a pleasant form of inoffensive chitchat as opposed to a worried check-in to make sure the other person is safe and not boiled alive? Sadly, even if you do, get ready for the latter as we hear about Graeme’s two weeks in the boiling kettle of the Pacific Northwest!
4:27-18:58: Part of the challenge of the heat is working in it, and it’s especially two weeks when the last two weeks for Graeme have been: his story on Substack, and the announcement (and then un-announcement) of Image Comics intending to publish new issues of Fell by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith. Graeme brings us up to speed on the weirdness in front of—and behind—the scenes!
18:58-31:39: And Jeff has news to report, too! (Although please ignore him saying “showhorn” instead of “shoehorn.” Not quite sure what he was thinking there.). Azuki is a new streaming manga service that offer the latest chapters of officially licensed manga…and for a monthly fee of $4.99, you can get access to the previous chapters. Jeff talks more about it and his cautious hopes for the service.
31:39-37:00: And more news: with Nick Spencer departing, Amazing Spider-Man is bringing back Ben Reilly and the Brand New Day multiple creative teams/high publishing frequency approach with Spider-Man: Beyond, written by head writer Zeb Wells, Kelly Thompson, Saladin Ahmed, Cody Ziegler and Patrick Gleason (who is also doing double duty as artist, along with Sara Pichelli and Michael Dowling (with Art Adams on covers)).
37:00-56:30: Also discussed: the upcoming Avengers storyline World War She-Hulk? With the debut of…The Winter Hulk?! That leads us to talk about hopping off the preview train with a surprisingly long talk about our respective tenures writing preview copy for the Comix Experience newsletter back in the day…worth listening to for Graeme’s hilariously dead-on recreation of an Image solicit.
56:30-1:00:35: Numbers about the state of the comics industry are out at ICv2 and they are a welcome surprise!
1:00:35-1:19:01: But, you know, would a truly healthy comics industry produce Spawn’s Universe #1? And have it apparently sell hundreds of thousands of copies? Graeme reviewed it for Polygon and wants to lure Jeff into talking about it by pretending that Jeff is some kind of expert about the character (or likes Spawn, even) which is…a dicey proposition. Nonetheless, we do talk Spawn’s Universe #1!
1:19:01-1:38:14: What else have we been reading, you may wonder? Graeme talks about reading Steve McManus’s The Mighty One: My Life Inside The Nerve Centre, his memoirs that include editing 2000 A.D. during its golden age. Graeme has also read Geiger by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank and wants to revisit the topic with Jeff—it’s a big of a dog’s breakfast because it takes a while to determine we’ve both read issue #1, Graeme has read a preview of issue #4 (which Jeff hasn’t) while Jeff has read issues #2 and #3 (which Graeme hasn’t). Who says this isn’t the Wait, What? Age of Comic Book Befuddlement?
1:38:14-2:05:30: Jeff has read: The Mystery of The Meanest Teacher: A Johnny Constantine Graphic Novel by Ryan North and Derek Charm! Drowning Love by George Asakuara! Please Put Them On, Takamine-san by Yuichi Hiiragi! Can you guess which book Graeme refuses to exist before he does? Also discussed: Tenet, Below Decks, The Lady in the Van, The Kid Detective, and more.
2:05:30-end:  Closing Comments!    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.
Next week: ???
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0:01-8:32: Greetings!  Graeme sounds a bit different here as you’ll probably be able to tell immediately—in fact, maybe you’ll catch on quicker than I did that once again we are being joined by Chloe Maveal, culture editor for NeoText Books and master comics opinion-haver! (But also due to Portland’s heat wave, they’re recording in a different, cooler part of their house than last time.). And we sort of apologize in advance for this episode in that there’s a lot of non-comics content covered in the first hour of this installment. For example, even though we’re talking about Todd McFarlane’s Spawn before the episode’s first two minutes are up, we are talking about Spawn in relationship to human fondue pots. (Also, I can’t believe it but put on the spot, Jeff screws up “imply” and “infer.” Arghhh! This will haunt me for weeks, I guarantee it.). And if that wasn’t enough for you, Chloe’s description of the prime era for Spawn—the nineties—may well leave you reeling. (Or rolling. Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, as the case may be.)
8:32-43:01: Hey, buddy—do you like dogs? Well, we sure do! In fact, Jeff just got himself a dog and he’s pretty happy about it. Really happy, in fact! So, you know, up top’s a picture of Jeff’s dog Remy trying to edit this podcast. He’s trying really hard and is such a good boy. Yes, he is! Anyway, if you’re interested in hearing how Jeff got his dog and the emotional rollercoaster he went through doing so, this next thirty-five minutes are for you! Also discussed: Chloe and Graeme’s pets! The secret of Ernie and Gus-Gus!
43:01-:46:04: Many of you remember last time Chloe was on, she and Graeme did a gruesomely good job getting the rest of us intrigued by the reality show, Below Decks. Do they have another trashy recommendation this time around?  The answer may surprise…Jeff?
46:04-1:02:21: Comic news time! (Kinda.) And we spend most of it mulling over the news that Substack has recruited comics writer Nick Spencer to…..? Join us for trying to make sense of the “Step 3: Profit!” maneuver of the 21st Century.
1:02:21-1:26:01: What have we been reading and what do we think of it? Graeme has been reading what he describes as “weird shit again” including collections of Rob Williams’ collections of Dredd and 2000AD material—and in fact he and Chloe both have just finished reading armfuls of John Smith comics (Tyranny Rex, Firekind, Indigo Prime, Revere, Devlin Waugh)—and a bunch of recent X-Men material which leads to us considering what the X-Men books are doing these days (SPOILERS for Planet-Size X-Men). Chloe talks about her read of John Smith’s material and what works for her with it 1:13:42, and Jeff chimes in with what’s he’s been reading lately at 1:21:08. Also discussed: trying to find and revisit Howard Cruse’s Gay Comix, Stuck Rubber Baby, the odd case of Wasteland #6, and more.
1:26:01-1:42:08: Springing out of what Jeff’s been reading is a brief discussion about Geiger issues #2 and #3 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. Are they fun comics? Dumb comics? Or just shitty comics? And how exactly does one tell each from each?
1:42:08-2:57:01: After Graeme assigns Jeff some homework for next episode, we dig into this episode’s homework: because this is our Pride episode with our self-describe “two scoops of queer” guest, we decided to re-read the amazing Enigma by Peter Milligan, Duncan Fegredo, and Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh (soon to be released by Dark Horse and Berger Books in a “definitive edition“). We talk about how we first came to read it and when, what it was like to revisit, and Jeff asks Chloe a lot about her recent (excellent) NeoText piece about Enigma, how that tied into this assignment, and how it helped her come out…twice! Settle in, this is a long, long discussion about Enigma, about queerness, and much, much more.
2:57:01-end: Closing Comments!   Oh, but fortunately some things never change:  look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme! Chloe! 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.
Next week: Skip Week! Rest your ears and join us in two weeks for another episode!
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Previously on Drokk!: Mega-City One has been invaded by Dune Sharks — something that seemed a little out of the blue in the last volume of the Case Files, but will have big repercussions this time out. Meanwhile, John Wagner has settled firmly back into being lead writer on 2000 AD’s Dredd, but the Magazine’s revolving line-up of writers is continuing to struggle in finding the right tone…

0:00:00-0:02:31: This time out, we’re talking about Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 26, which covers material from 1997 — namely, 2000 AD Progs 1029-1052, and Judge Dredd Magazine Vol. 3 #s 19 through 33. As we say right from the start, it’s another uneven volume, but that’s not necessarily as bad as it sounds, as we get to soon enough…

0:02:32-0:48:08: Almost immediately, we start talking about the extended storyline that takes up the majority of the 2000 AD episodes, in which Dredd, Demarco and a bunch of cadets go hunting for the origins of the Dune Sharks from the last volume; it’s a storyline that changes the way I look at Dredd as an extended comic strip, and maybe not in a manner that’s necessarily logical; Jeff doesn’t quite agree with my viewpoint, and we talk about that, as well as about the extended storyline as a whole, and what it owes to previous Dredd stories — in particular, “The Judge Child Quest,” “The Cursed Earth,” and “Wilderlands.” (Another unexpected echo that we discuss briefly? 1960s Star Trek.)

We also talk about the ways in which this extended story fails, whether it’s in the unexpected plot hole lampshades seemingly needlessly by a revelation in the story’s climactic arc — one that makes things “practically Chris Claremont-esque,” according to Jeff — or the meandering nature of each individual serial inside the larger story… something not exactly helped by some unfortunate art choices. (Who knew nuclear apocalypse could be so underwhelming?) As we talk about art, I explain my love of Henry Flint, which is likely going to be a recurring theme now that he’s shown up as a semi-regular on the strip. All this and Jeff’s food analogy for reading this book!

0:48:09-1:11:35: It’s not all hunting after Dune Sharks, though; there are a handful of other 2000 AD stories in this volume, and we go through them quickly: “Mad City” is a trifle, but distinguished by a strange Chris Evans (no, not the Marvel actor, this one) connection and some lovely art from Greg Staples, whom we both enjoy; “The Big Hit” is Mark Millar, and therefore terrible; “Lonesome Dave” manages to transcend the pun at the heart of the title thanks to some great John Burns art; and “He Came From Outer Space” has a great opener but otherwise disappoints. We also talk about the value of Dredd that’s just fine (Wagner’s “phoning it is… better than when some of the new guys are trying to bust their ass,” as Jeff puts it), as well as the effect that every episode of Drokk! has on me — and why Jeff should start reading the Case Files a little earlier each month.

1:11:36-1:22:15: If 2000 AD’s Dredd is in reasonably strong shape, the same can’t really be said for the Magazine; as we rush through the majority of the stories there, we sound admittedly pretty dismissive, but I’d argue that we’re being entirely fair. Could the problem be the Meg itself, we ask?

1:22:16-1:52:10: Understandably, we spend a lot of time talking about “Fetish,” the second-longest arc in the book, and the major contribution from the Magazine, as John Smith and Siku team up to create something that’s part-impressive, and part-racist mess. Despite the problems with Siku’s atmospheric-but-lacking-clarity paintings and John Smith’s lyrical-but-“Simba-City”-what-the-fuck-is-that writing — if you think that’s bad, wait until you hear us discuss the closing caption — there are things to appreciate in this near-Mega-epic, not least of which the appearance of Devlin Waugh, who steals the show despite not actually accomplishing anything on a plot level. It’s Jeff’s introduction to the character, and we talk about that briefly, as well as a short discussion about double page spreads and whether or not the (many!) in this storyline are successful.

1:52:11-end: It’s time for that question again: Drokk or Dross? We both plump for the former, and choose our favorite stories — Jeff goes for “Fetish,” and I kind of hedge my bets between “Lonesome Dave,” “Dance of the Spider Queen,” and “Trail of the Man-Eaters,” but what do you expect from someone who was also convinced we’d been recording for 30 minutes or so longer than we actually had? (In my defense, there were technical issues that threw me off.) While talking about our least favorite stories, we also ask a question that I think had been circling all episode: Is 1990s Judge Dredd the most racist yet, and if so, why?

After that, it’s time to wrap things up, look ahead to the next episode, and tell everyone about our Twitter, Instragram — even though I got the URL wrong; it’s waitwhatpod, not waitwhatpodcast — and Patreon. As always, thank you for listening and reading!

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0:01-6:53: Greetings!  As this episode opens, we go from a near-death experience to mocking Neil Gaiman in record time (even for us!). What’s the secret connection between that and Hot Stuff, the Little Devil? And our former president? It’s another episode of WhatAnon theories—they’re better for you than QAnon theories because they’re explicitly made-up and absurd (and have only a quarter of the calories)!
6:53-28:19: Moving on, moving on (nothing to see here, folks, move along): the first three issues of Wasteland dropped of DC Universe Infinite (and on Comixology if you’re tempted and don’t have the service). Yes, the sleeper hit of the late ’80s is here, with stories by John Ostrander and Del Close, more than brilliantly illustrated by David Lloyd, George Freeman, William Messsner-Loebs and Donald Simpson, and we are here to talk about how great it is to revisit these stories again.  Also discussed: Plop!, UK comics anthologies, US comics anthologies, the need for them, and the hidden secret behind the U.S. anthologies arguably more horrifying than the stories themselves.
28:19-37:08: Another thing that dropped on DCUI: Who’s Who Update ’87 #1, a five issue series updating the original Who’s Who. Unsurprisingly, we have fond memories of this as well, and we talk about it, the beloved Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, the recently released omnibi of each, and much more.
37:08-40:49: As for something new, it’s also something we’ve discussed before but The Nice House on the Lake #1 by James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martinez Bueno, and Jordie Bellaire has been officially releasedd now, Jeff read it, and wanted to talk some more about it because it’s a stunner.
40:49-1:00:10: Season one of Jupiter’s Legacy on Netflix ended with a cliffhanger—one we probably won’t see resolved any time soon since Netflix decided not to renew it for season two. Graeme indulges Jeff’s Millarschmertz (my internet’s down but I’m assuming that’s a real term) and discusses what might’ve gone wrong: Graeme thought it looked cheap, Jeff thinks that’s not really a barrier to fans of superhero TV and the problem might’ve been, say, things like The Boys.
1:00:10-1:12:26: Graeme has been a bit tired lately (as opposed to Jeff, who’s just *always* tired) and so has been seeking out unchallenging reading material such as: all of Mark Waid’s Avengers material from 2015; and Mark Waid and Kev Walker’s Doctor Strange; Surgeon Supreme.
1:12:26-1:35:26: Also on the Graeme “Easy Reader” McMillan list? Time Masters! That’s right, the DC series by Bob Wayne, Lewis Shiner, and Art Thibert from thirty years ago. It’s a fun sounding series that harkens back to a different era of the DC Universe with things played entirely too seriiously while also giving a lot of shout-outs to classic DC continuity and connecting with the current (of the time) continuity…which ties in well with what Jeff read on Hoopla this week: Invasion! (Secret No More) collecting the three issue spine to the DC even from the late ’80s, featuring some classic DC stalwarts (Keith Giffen, Bart Sears) and some unique dayplayers (Bill Mantlo, Todd McFarlane). Also discussed: New Guardians, because of course we do.
1:35:26-2:08:42: Trying to talk about something a little more current than comics from 30-plus years—our ongoing struggle recently it seems!—and we talk a bit about the current issue of Immortal Hulk (good!) and the announcement of the next creative team to follow Al Ewing and Joe Bennett (not…as good?). Also discussed—the problem with solicitations giving away too much (or, for the retailers, not enough); a rousing game of “guess the creator’s age”; a discussion of Tim and Ben Truman’s A Man Called Hawken, and Walt Simonson’s Ragnarok and more.
2:08:42-end:  Closing Comments!    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.
Next week: Attention, Citizen!  Read Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files, Volume 26 and join us here for the next installment of….Drokk!!
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0:01-22:11: Greetings!  As Graeme McMillan points out, “it’s been for fucking ever!” Or, you know, something like three weeks? We sort of start to catch up on the comic news, but quickly get very sidetracked by talking about the Warner-Discovery merger, which is quite probably a very big deal? (But for those of you who might have missed it, Jeff mentioned the passing of David Anthony Kraft, and was also going to mention that both Jesse Hamm and Kentaro Miura, Berserk‘s creator, have also passed at brutally young ages.). As a result of the merger, there were some very dumb theories that came out of it, and Jeff wonders if earlier dumb “somebody might be buying DC” rumors came out of what would’ve been some sort of asset sizing that would’ve been happening to prep for the merger with Discovery? Graeme shuts that down pretty authoritatively here, as well as discussing what happened to the other publishing media in Warners, the amount of money HBO Max is expected to lose with its “on the service and in the theaters” choice for 2021, the winding path of Marvel Productions, rumors about Disney buying Viacom, and more.
22:11-28:47: Jeff, realizing once again how lucky he is to be able to just ask questions of someone who writes and reads entertainment news stories for a living, asks for an update about #DisneyMustPay, and Graeme’s report is…promising? And also still baffling…but also promising in some ways. And this rapidly transitions back into more historical trivia from Graeme about the differences between Marvel Studios and Marvel Entertainment, the uncanny parallels in DC and Marvel’s business history, and other amazing tidbits.
28:47-1:08:38: And from there an unexpected question from Graeme for Jeff: “Do you read comics differently in digital than in print?” And although Graeme is actually skewing the question a specific way, I think (literally, “do your eyes work on the page differently?”), Jeff sort of talks at length about the way his digital reading habits have evolved and continue to evolve. Also discussed: Wasteland coming to DC Universe Infinite! An anecdote about Batman/Fortnite; the new movies on HBO Max, and the difference between “new” and “new to you”; Hacks on HBO Max and Army of the Dead on Netflix, James Corden(!), and more.
1:08:38-1:24:22: I’m putting in one of those entirely arbitrary time code stamps because, honestly, there’s no real reason why I should separate out “Graeme talks about the trailers for the Crank movies” from everything else, but it seems like a good enough excuse to throw in one of the trailers since our discussion is semi-solidly in the “trailers so good you don’t need/want to see the movie” camp by this point. Also discussed: Army of the Dead and whether or not Graeme (and the listeners) should watch it; a surprisingly verdant discussion about the career of Geena Davis.
1:24:22-1:34:30: Comics! Yes, we do talk about them eventually! Graeme goes first in our “hey, what are you reading?” discussion and talks in depth about Firekind, the upcoming September release from 2000 AD reprinting the John Smith/Paul Marshall series from 1993; Hershey (mentioned in passing by Graeme), and digs in deep to the joys of the third volume of Lawless (Ashes to Ashes) by Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade coming out in August.
1:34:30-1:41:05: Jeff’s turn, and he makes a point to mention that both he and Graeme have been enjoying the current run of Nightwing by Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo and Adriano Lucas, and that swerves into Graeme talking about Mariko Tamaki’s current run on Detective Comics and the pleasures to be found therein.
1:41:05-2:09:22: But, anyway! Other stuff Jeff has read—volume 1 of the Brother Voodoo Marvel Masterworks, one of those volumes with some odd editing choices and such a peripatetic selection that you realize Brother Voodoo was never really a thing? (For real, he makes Son of Satan look like Spider-Man by comparison.). Also discussed: Marvel Teamworks Masterworks Vol. 5; the first volume of Boys Run The Riot by Keito Gaku; Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba; Cross Over Vol. 1: Kids Love Chains by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw; Home Sick Pilots Vol. 1: Teenage Pilots; and The Department of Truth Vol. 1: The End of the World by James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds; and more.
2:09:22-2:14:51: Graeme has read an advance copy of Douglas Wolk’s All of the Marvels, which sparks a bit of brief discussion about how many comics there are comprising the Marvel Universe.
2:14:51-end: Closing Comments!    Oh, but fortunately some things never change:  look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! 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: Episode 320!  Join us!
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Previously on Drokk!: John Wagner seems to have returned to greatness, judging by the first half of “The Pit,” a massive storyline that places Dredd in charge of the worst Sector House in Mega-City One, pushing him — and the Dredd strip as a whole — into new areas.

0:00:00-0:01:55: It’s time for a relatively speedy introduction, in which we inform you that we’re covering Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 25 this time around, featuring a lot of 2000 AD and a tiny bit of Judge Dredd Magazine material from 1996 and 1997. It’s… a mixed bag, as we make a point of saying.

0:01:56-0:20:51: Part of the reason that it’s such an uneven volume is the fact that the Megazine material — which is only four stories — is quite so bad. In particular, we go after Marc Wignore’s work, especially the story “One Breath,” which leads us onto a discussion of what kind of 1990s influence is at play in such a narrative disaster. This takes us into a discussion of the artwork we didn’t like in the book — including Jason Brashill, Paul Peart, and Tom Carney’s chin-phobic turn in 2000 AD. Also under discussion: “Control,” and why why neither of us believe that Judge Dredd would stand by, frustrated, in the circumstances that story places him in.

0:20:52-0:32:58: Turning our attention to the 2000 AD material, Jeff confesses which story is “repellent” to him — yes, he uses that word, and yes, he explains why — before we talk about just how great the final half of “The Pit” is, and explain the reason we’re talking about stories from this volume out of order. (Short version: It starts well and then trails off, and we didn’t want to have an episode that ended on such a downer.) That said, at least there’s “The Pack,” which features something Jeff is scared off, and something else that I love. (Spoilers: It’s Henry Flint’s artwork.)

0:32:59-0:48:44: We disagree strongly about “Darkside,” the 2000 AD storyline from John Smith; I’m unconvinced by what I see as an extended exercise in nostalgia and a lot of near-Morrisonian cliches, but Jeff has a grand theory as to why those flaws are sidestepped to create a meta-commentary on the state of fandom and popular culture that is a quarter century ahead of its time. (I remain unconvinced, I admit.) The rare schism when it comes to Dredd!

0:48:45-1:09:16: We double back to a couple of our favorite stories from this volume: “The Pack,” where the lure of flying sharks that eat people and cause shit proves to be irresistible, and “The Pit,” where Wagner seems to be pushing Dredd as a character and as a strip, in interesting directions. Those directions, and what they ultimately become in the future of the strip, are discussed — get ready for the comparison between Wolverine and “Judge Dad” — as is the fact that what feels like an evolutionary step comes to a sudden halt, only to be replaced by a series of episodes that feel almost retrogressive in comparison. Whatever happened to the Judge of Tomorrow?

1:09:17-1:23:24: “Dead Reckoning,” the serial that immediately follows “The Pit,” is a rare misfire for John Wagner in this era. A large part of that, if you’re Jeff and I, is that it’s a story that centers around Judge Death, who is a particularly dull villain that has arguably run out of steam, especially in this era. Jeff is similarly unimpressed with “Death of a Legend,” the one-off that closes out the McGruder storyline once and for all, but I’m more of a fan — in part, as Jeff puts it, because I’m far more sentimental about these kinds of things because I’m Scottish. (Look, he’s not wrong, he even calls me out correctly for loving the many John Lewis Christmas ads!) One of the reasons Jeff doesn’t feel as favorably about it is that he’s less convinced that McGruder is a fully-formed character, making emotional connection and sentiment particularly unearned. He might not be wrong, to be honest.

1:23:25-1:37:29: As we near the end of the episode, it’s time for that very special question: Drokk or Dross? We both come down on the side of Drokk, and have the same choices for our favorite stories in the collection: “The Pit” — and, really, the “Unjudicial Liasons” episodes therein — for our favorite Wagner-written, “The Pack” as a runner-up, and “Darkside” for the best non-Wagner story. Yes, even though I wasn’t really a fan; it’s still better than all of the Magazine material.

1:37:30-end: We wrap things up by briefly looking ahead to the next volume — more air sharks! — and offering the traditional mentions of Instagram, Twitter, and Patreon. As always, thank you for listening and reading; we, and Mega-City One, appreciate it greatly.

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First and foremost: RIP, John Paul Leon.  Graeme and I recorded this episode before learning of his passing, but I edited after.  By every account, he was a great person, but he was also an extraordinary talent that worked on the high watermarks of his generation, a brilliant and tremendous artist.  And now he’s also gone far too soon.  Again, Rest in Peace and in Power.

0:01-2:24: Greetings!  Welcome to some guarded optimism about the future of tech, at least as far as the latest MacOS and Audio Hijack are concerned (a very, very, very niche slice of what people might think of as “the future of tech,” it must be admitted).
2:24-10:52: Speaking of tech, Graeme has been having problems with Marvel Unlimited and he wants to know—does Jeff have the cure? In fact, Jeff does (don’t worry, it’s not more cowbell). If you been having trouble with Marvel Unlimited, check this fix out. If you don’t need this problem solved and/or you don’t want to hear a story about the rescue of a baby bird, you may want to skip this segment? (Although, really, what kind of monster doesn’t want to hear about a baby bird being rescued?)
10:52-22:41: Okay, but moving on to comics content, though: Graeme has read an advance copy of The Nice House on The Lake #1 by James Tynion IV and Álvaro Martínez Bueno (coming from DC on June 1), and it’s an opportunity for Graeme to not only sing its praises but talking about how well it works by walking into it blind, knowing anything other than the creators and the descriptor “horror comic.”
22:41-1:02:06: Okay, possible spoilers for above but Jeff has to know if the horrible crucial “don’t open the door!” mistake Graeme talks about in The Nice House on the Lake….buying Star Wars digital trades for super-cheap off Comixology? Because that’s the mistake Jeff made (and you can too through May 6th)! But that is actually just an intro to #DisneyMustPay, the newest update in the Alan Dean Foster and Star Wars royalties situation. It’s definitely an ongoing situation, but as you’ll be able to tell from Graeme’s update—things have taken a disturbing turn! We discuss it, also work in some of the recent revelations about Scott Rudin (or really, the airing of a very open secret), the Pokemon trading card crisis, Jeff’s greetings to his fellow comrades on May Day and strangely trying to tie that into the first volume of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba which is currently free digitally through the usual suspects through May 23, 2021. (Check it out!)
1:02:06-1:28:51: Graeme pivots—and how!-—by bringing up a series he last mentioned on the podcast several years back when he purchased it and has now finally read: Outcasts, a twelve issue limited series published by DC back in 1987 by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Cam Kennedy, and Steve Montaro! What happens when DC gives the stars of 2000 A.D. a “twelve issue future shocker”? The answer will…maybe…not startle you if you’ve been reading along with Drokk? SPOILERS for a thirty-five year old series. And this leads us down the path of talking about the charms of good creators making crazy bad comics, the appeal and presence/absence of crazy bad comics in today’s marketplace, and more. Shout outs include the first two trades of Die! Die! Die! by Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple, and powerhouse Chris Burnham, OMAC #1 by Jack Kirby, Prez #1 by Joe Simon and Jerry Grandietti, President Werewolf #1 by Tim Vargulish, Joey Lee Cabral, and Shaun Pinello, Boss Wife Vol. 1 by Mayu Sakurai, and more.
1:28:51-2:00:29: Because the bulk of Graeme’s reading has been Outcasts, old Dredd, and things that aren’t out yet so he asks what Jeff’s been reading. So a quick rundown, Jeff talks super-briefly about the first three volumes of Case Closed; Friend of the Devil: A Reckless Book; BRZRKR #2; Savage Avengers #20, and Robin #1, where we manage to spoil the end of the issue unless you’re really not paying attention and wherein Jeff has a theory about Damian Wayne that Graeme either acknowledges with (repeatedly) “You’re on to something” or “you’re on something.” (I’ve listened to it four times and I still think it could go either way!). Also discussed: Jeff spending a lot of money on Star Wars digital comics and…for why, really?
2:00:29-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: Read Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files, Volume 25 and join us here next week, citizen! Drokk!!
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0:01-36:20: Greetings!  It’s just Jeff and Graeme, so of course we open with Jeff explaining the joke he forgot to make at the opening, and then Graeme starts talking about Below Decks, the current ongoing non-comics obsession of this comics podcast! And this leads to a longer discussion—surprisingly so!—about watching reality television. When we watch reality television, what are watching for? And how do we describe what we’re watching? As is (probably sadly) standard for this podcast, Graeme has the experience, Jeff has the theories, and together they have…a conversation! Also discussed: Colton Underwood coming out as gay; reality show crushes; the first season of Real World; and *much* more.
36:20-52:33: Okay, the reality TV talk is over, but the TV talk continues! Graeme has watched Kid Cosmic over on Netflix (created by Powerpuff Girls maestro Craig McCracken) and thinks (a) Jeff should watch, and (b) it’s a superhero show that also is a little more than just that, and (c) why can’t DC and Marvel make things like this, considering they’re the template for so much of it? Relatedly, Jeff read the first volume of long-running manga megahit Case Closed (also known as Detective Conan) by Gosho Aoyama and sees some surprising similarities!
52:33-1:18:00: A question about the continuity in Case Closed (is it 98 volumes of a teen detective trapped in the body of a little kid *still* having to fool people into listening to him?) leads to Graeme talking about catching up on Judge Dredd from publication year 2018 to the present, and how the “big” stories are handled differently than they used to, how multiple writers have learned how to write Dredd and how the editors at 2000 A.D. have learned how to coordinate multiple editors on Dredd.
1:18:00-1:40:49: Coordination and editorship is something Jeff seizes on, in no small part because he’s recently read to Digital First issues on DC Universe Infinite: the first issue of Sensational Wonder Woman by Stephanie Nicole Phillips and Meghan Hetrick, and Truth and Justice #1 by Geoffrey Thorne and ChrisCross. And he’s a little bummed out about what he sees, quality-wise, from a program DC has had for seven years now. This moves to a discussion about editors being overextended, and the massive percentage of DC’s publishing strategy is Batman (maybe as high as a third?). And so…
1:40:49-1:50:35: Since Tom King’s Batman/Catwoman is one of those titles and since Graeme is a Tom King fan, he talks about it and the other King titles currently running: Rorschach, and Strange Adventures.
1:50:35-2:14:15: “All this,” sez Graeme, “and I haven’t talked about Geiger!” And so begins the great Geiger debate of 2021, in which we discuss the first issue of the Image comic by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. We both agree it’s terrible, but if that’s the case….then why is Jeff name-dropping Kanye West? And…Jack Kirby? “What’s going on?! You won’t believe it! You’ve heard ‘talking points’ before! You’ve heard ‘rebuttals!’ But you’ve never heard anything like….’The Geiger Counters!?!'”
2:14:15-end: Closing Comments!    Oh, but fortunately some things never change:  look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! 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: Skip you, skip me…skip it together…that’s the way it should be… Join us in two weeks for our next episode!
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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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