Previously on Drokk!: Disillusioned in the system, Dredd took the Long Walk and retired from being the law — only for Mega-City One to fall to the Dark Judges in his absence. Post-“Necropolis,” he’s back and nothing will be the same again, especially when it comes to Judge Dredd the comic strip.
0:00:00-0:01:44: Welcome back, dear Whatnauts, to the 22nd century that feels a little bit less removed from the current day with every single episode. As we quickly introduce things this time around, we’re covering two books: Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 15 and Judge Dredd: America — although, for those following along in collected editions, we’re only covering the first “America” story, and ignoring the two sequels for now.
0:01:45-0:21:19: Taking the two books separately, we talk about Case Files 15 being a difficult book to read right now — both for the parallels with events in the real world, as everyone deals with police brutality and the ACAB reality, and also because it’s… not an especially good book…? That said, there’s a lot to enjoy here, and we dig into some of the good stuff, especially the way in which John Wagner struggles to deal with some tricky subjects, including the idea of Dredd as pro-democracy reformer. Also discussed: What role Judge Anderson could play in the future of Mega-City One, just how strong Wagner’s immediate post-“Necropolis” stories are, and Jeff and I disagreeing over Ron Smith’s artwork that opens the collection.
0:21:20-0:44:31: Of course, for some people, the appeal of Case Files 15 may be the arrival of Garth Ennis as writer, so we talk about that. Spoilers: His first stories aren’t very good, which means we’re discussing their sloppiness, Ennis’s apparent need to work as a John Wagner cover band, how his stories do and don’t follow Wagner — clue: it depends on what you mean by “follow” — and, generally, how they fall into the larger Garth Ennis pantheon, and what impact “The Apocalypse War” had on Ennis as a whole. Ennis isn’t the only writer letting the side down here, and we also talk about the disappointments offered up by Alan Grant and John Wagner in this volume, and everyone can enjoy Jeff’s literary detective work to identify the author of one particular story. (I just looked up Wikipedia to confirm, as it happened.)
0:44:32-0:53:16: Overall, is Case Files 15 Drokk or Dross? The answer probably won’t surprise you, but we pick out our favorite stories in the volume anyway, and also talk about the different artists on show here and what they fail to bring when necessary.
0:53:17-1:18:02: If I could point to the biggest surprise for me while recording Drokk! to date, it’s that “America” left Jeff as cold as it does, especially given that some of his reasons for feeling that way are things that, to be honest, I would have assumed would have been something that appealed to him. Is it that his expectations were too high, the current reality in which he’s reading, or Wagner’s pivot from broad condemnation to specific pulp story? We talk about all of this, while I reveal for just the latest time that I am willing to put up with all kinds of flawed work if I have warm feelings about it. (Really, I should be ashamed; really, I kind of am.) Am I riddled with nostalgia? Also: Where are the metaphors of “America”? And does the end still feel somewhat out of nowhere to everyone else? Commenters, I’m really looking forward to you weighing in here.
1:18:03-1:36:06: We continue talking about “America,” and weave slightly into whether or not this story is particularly timely right now, given everything that’s happening, and discuss whether or not it’s a story about the Judges or not. (Jeff isn’t convinced.) We also very briefly touch on whether or not Judge Dredd as a strip’s failure to talk about race is perhaps its biggest failure, in a way that only two white middle aged men can do.
1:36:07-1:39:07: Drokk? Dross? Thankfully, it turns out that not every book we’re talking about this week lets us down.
1:39-08-end: We wrap things up with me feeling nervous about the future episodes of Drokk! and what we have to look forward to, and the usual mentions of Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Patreon. As always, thank you for listening and reading along.