00:00-15:36:  Greetings! It is, by some people’s system of counting, our 350th episode! And we celebrate it as only we can—(a) by not mentioning it during the recording at all, because (b) we forgot! But we are at least able-minded enough to point out that it’s October, and thus also (1) Chloe’s birthday on October 2, the day this episode gets released; (2) Graeme’s birthday on Wednesday, October 5, when he will be traveling to NYCC; and (3) Jeff’s birthday right smack dab on Halloween itself. So if you’re wondering if this means there will be an abundance of indulgent small talk this episode, we can only offer this segment, and its expansive discussion about Graeme’s wishlist on Amazon, as Exhibit A. And Jeff talks about the stuff what he would like for his birthday. (Please note: the link to this amazing looking Love & Rockets: The First Fifty is already covered, no need to even think about purchasing it for me. I’m just linking to it here because I think everyone should see it.) And then there’s some exciting shed talk! Yes, nothing says four hundred and fifty issues of a comic book podcast like (as Graeme refers to it): “Wait, What? Shed Edition!”
15:36-46:54: As mentioned above, NYCC is almost upon us, so we discuss a bit of the reason that fact alone seems surprising and uncomfortable…which leads us to talk about so much of Graeme’s experiences working comic book cons and what it means to actually, you know, work them.
46:54-51:46: Return of the shed talk? Well, maybe a little. But also, because Jeff is heading up to Portland for the first time in three years (or more?), there is some Broforce-related talk.
51:46-57:12: Comics talk does happen, though! For example, Jeff wants to point everyone toward Graeme’s talk with Todd McFarlane over at PopVerse, Graeme wants you to know that ReedPop is going to be streaming a lot of NYCC content for free during the show, and (and I hope I have the right link for this), if you want an inexpensive way to get beyond the PopVerse paywall to read things like Graeme’s extensive chat with Grant Morrison plus VOD panels from NYCC, there are NYCC 2022 digital tickets!
57:12-1:o7:54: Comics rundown (Jeff edition)! Jeff had a strong finish to September and talks a bit about the stuff he read and dug: Fist of the North Star, Vol. 6! Conan The Barbarian, issues #84-98! Cross Play Love: Otaku x Punk Vol. 1! Chapter 1 of The Game Devil (readable on MangaPlus)! Turning the Table on the Seatmate Killer (on Azuki)! My Dear Detective: Mitsuko’s Case Files (also on Azuki)!
1:07:54-1:36:05: Graeme is kind of curious how the Conans are, and Jeff needs no more than that to talk a bit about the run he’s about to finish—the Queen of the Black Coast years—and how much he sees now that writer Roy Thomas was doing his Roy Thomas-y thing and patching continuity holes, tying threads and references from later stories and tertiary materials into the comic, and how, essentially, Jeff thinks there’s the bones for a very good Game of Thrones style series in place thanks to that work. (My apologies for talking too quickly that when I said “Roy Thomas’s Continuity Cross Fetish” that Graeme wasn’t able to jump in and add “Otaku x Punk” because the absence is felt.) We also talk about Alter Ego the magazine from Two Morrows that Thomas edits—it’s a continuation of his fanzine! He turns 82 next month—he has a story in X-Men Legends!
1:36:05-1:57:28: Graeme wishes he could appreciate fantasy, but it’s not really his jam. “Great is in the eye of the beholder,” he opines before going to on to talk about what he’s been reading (and/or re-reading depending on the issue): The Thing series from the 80s, now fully available on Marvel Unlimited! And we also talk about the charms of Marvel Two-In-One, the previous series featuring The Thing that at least had a gimmick that functioned as a story engine.
1:57:28-1:59:21: And if you want to hear the part of the podcast where Jeff clearly loses his mind… 350 issues and I don’t think we’ve ever had extensive corpsing…until now!
1:59:21-end:  (More than a little hysterical) closing comments! Next week is a skip week and then join us for Drokk wherein we read and discuss volume 4 of Judge Dredd: The Restricted Case Files! But don’t forget about:  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme (and not a Twitter: Graeme at Popverse!) 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:  Judge Dredd The Restricted Case Files, Vol. 4!  In two scant weeks!!
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00:00-5:28:  Greetings, or as all the cool kids say: Howdy-do! Some tech trauma opens the episode but it turns out to be largely self-inflicted. But we’re quick to try and move beyond it, but we find ourselves momentarily stymied by the clumsiness of an earlier recording time and by…comics themselves? Well yeah, kinda.
5:28-23:08: But having said that, Jeff just read the first three issues of X-Men Red by Al Ewing, Stefano Caselli, Federico Blee and Fernando Sifuentes, and very much enjoyed it. It’s the first X books Jeff has read since HOX/POX and so finds himself in the thick of a very rich fantasy setting far from the usual superhero tropes. Graeme gives Jeff (and you) more of an overview of the post-HOX/POX books, (both first and second wave in case you are intrigued).
23:08-43:27: Considering how closely Ewing’s work at Marvel is entwined with Kieron Gillen’s, Graeme uses this as a segue to talk about an X-related title: A.X.E. Judgment Day, of which five out of six issues are currently out, in which Gillen takes an inciting event from the one of the marching orders of the Eternals (destroy deviancy outside an expected range) to create what first seems to be a standard Marvel “franchise vs. franchise” event and becomes something much different and miuch more interesting. Graeme also delves into Gillen’s run on The Eternals with Esad Ribic and what he enjoyed so much about it. (Jeff, it should be said, finally made it through the first collected trade and also ended up enjoying it!)
43:27-1:06:51: And moving from one big event to another (with the sadly as-of-yet-unrealized “Board War” event helping), Graeme has some compare and contrast style observations about Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths by Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere. This is an event that Graeme had very much followed the build-up on and was a fan of the first few issues but as it’s gone on…there’s something missing? It gives us the space to talk about event comics a bit, and how often things go missing in them, and why, while also interrogating what it is DC’s latest event is actually trying to do.
1:06:51-1:33:41: As alluded to at the beginning, Jeff hasn’t had the best luck this month with his comic reading choices (or at least it just wasn’t the cornucopia of the previous month) but also encountering a fave doing work one would consider…not very good. The genius Jason Shiga has a new book out, Leviathan, the first in what may be a series of “Choose Your Own Adventure” comics (in the style of his Meanwhile…) and it underwhelmed. In fact, it was very far from whelming. And then, thanks to the magic of Hoopla, he was able to be deeply underwhelmed by Alex Ross’s Fantastic Four Full Circle for free? As it turns out, Graeme also did not appreciate the book very much, and so it’s an informal Baxter Building reunion stealth mini-ep as we look at what Ross is doing, why, and how it failed to land with us.
1:33:41-1:43:23: Graeme quite enjoyed the other Judgment Day—the 2000 AD 30 year celebration of the earlier zombies vs. 2000 AD characters event, “Judgment Day”—as well as the Marvel Comics adaptation of Terminator 2: Judgment Day by Klaus Janson and Gregory Wright. Come for the unexpected praise of a Marvel Comics movie adaptation, stay for hearing Graeme describe the ten year old’s reactions to T2 and The Last Action Hero.
1:43:23-1:51:56: Movies? Sure, we do this too! Graeme and Chloe watched a horror movie called Meander, a movie Chloe called “Cube’s much more boring cousin, Tube.” We also talk in a spoiler-free way about Confess, Fletch (and boy if you were to tell me this was the point where Graeme, Adam Knave, and I form a spinoff podcast just discussing the Gregory McDonald Fletch and Flynn books, I would totally believe you), as well as the Shudder exclusive movie, Saloum, a very enjoyable African addition to the “bad guys vs. monsters” genre (currently exclusive on Shudder).
1:51:56-end:  Closing comments!  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme (and not a Twitter: Graeme at Popverse!) 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:  Another Wait, What?  And our 350th episode to boot?! See you then!
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Previously on Drokk!: The 38th volume of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files was a high for the series to date, and arguably the best of this latter era of stories thanks to some strong work from writer and character co-creator John Wagner. So… what happens when we have a volume where Wagner takes a bit of a back seat to other writers again…?

0:00:00-0:07:18: We’re approaching an end to Drokk!, with this episode covering Complete Case Files Vol. 39, a volume released earlier this year and the second-to-last volume of the series currently available. Unfortunately, as we quickly get into, this is also a volume that falls far short of the heights we’ve come to expect from Judge Dredd in recent episodes — so much so that we end up taking quite a tangent about our shared love of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. (For those who were unaware of the novel I mention, read here.)

0:07:19-0:21:14: I’d love to say that we quickly got back on track, but this is an episode where we meander more than a little; nonetheless, as this is a volume that features not only John Wagner writing, but also that of Pat Mills and Alan Grant, Jeff shares his “My Three Dads” theory of Dredd, and we pick apart the ways in which the three writers differ, which comes down in large part to a lack of subtlety and nuance, but also intent. Does Pat Mills still bring the Thrill Power, as Jeff suggests? Has Alan Grant entirely lost it? And what of John Wagner, who also underwhelms in some of his work here? Also under discussion: just how much I dislike John Ridgeway’s artwork in this volume, which mostly comes down to, “I hate bad computer coloring.”

0:21:15-0:31:51: What do we expect from Dredd stories at this point is the matter under discussion, as we talk about two genuinely weird product placement ads — one of which stars the band Placebo, of all things — as well as some stories that are genuinely terrible, but in ways that feel acceptable and appropriate for this series. Questions we ask, even if we don’t necessarily answer: What makes some kind of failures seem disruptive, while others are just fine, if underwhelming? How old is Si Spurrier? And is it okay to tell a bad Dredd story if it’s one that Wagner and Grant have already told?

0:31:52-0:47:58: A conversation about the importance of the artist to Gordon Rennie’s stories — mostly centered around Simon Davis’s and D’Israeli’s art for two separate stories in this volume, both written by Rennie — leads into a more narrow discussion about the story “Prodigal,” and Rennie’s understanding (or misunderstanding) of two important recurring characters for the strip, and what kind of interactions we’re looking for from background characters in Dredd. Which itself leads into…

0:47:59-0:53:58: …Just how does John Wagner handle character arcs for Judges that aren’t Dredd? Does Wagner allow for that kind of thing? I suggest so, and offer some examples, but Jeff and I talk about the rules attached to such stories.

0:53:59-1:14:48: A sign of how smart Jeff is, and how not smart I am, comes when we discuss the story “Terror,” one of two great Wagner stories in this volume: Jeff is immediately drawn the strip’s meta-commentary on the Northern Irish “Troubles” in this story about terrorism, and I didn’t even notice that when reading, because I was too focused on whether or not Total War as a terrorist group is intended to be an allegory for the Judges themselves. I explain my reasoning, and Jeff explores it, and we talk about the ongoing war between terrorists and Judges that’s been happening in the background of the strip for decades by this point, as well as parallels that this story has with “America” (the Dredd story, not the country).

1:14:49-1:29:06: The other great Wagner story in the book is “Six,” which sees a return for P.J. Maybe after far too long, in such a way that immediately recalls the movie Seven — the title’s the clue — and lets Jeff talk about his unfamiliarity with Kevin Spacey back in the day. We also touch on how wonderfully small Maybe appears in his newly victorious form, and the commentary that allows the story to offer.

1:29:07-1:46:23: What looks as if we’re going to start talking about the artists in this book (we almost do) veers off into a discussion of “My Beautiful Career,” a story that I like far more than Jeff, which then itself veers into a discussion of how Wagner undercuts some of his own positioning about how bad the Judges are by letting Dredd have a moral conscience. This leads into an idea that, in general, this book just can’t quite get it straight what it wants to say about Judge Dredd and the world he lives in, but perhaps we’re imagining that…

1:46:24-1:56:34: An attempt to wrap things up has us talking, again, about how weak this volume feels especially in comparison to the last one we read. No wonder we end up pronouncing it Dross instead of Drokk, with obvious favorite stories (“Terror” for Jeff, “Six” for me), and obvious least favorite stories (“At Home with the Snozzburns,” which is Alan Grant at his worst), too. It is, as we point out, a very strange experience to have such a bad volume out of nowhere this close to the end of things.

1:56:35-end: And speaking of the end, we wrap things up with the usual mentions of the Twitters and the Patreon. As always, thank you for reading along, and thank you for listening. Commenters, feel free to sound off below as to whether or not we were being too unfair on this volume, but I promise: I really don’t think that we were.

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00:00-2:36:  Greetings!  And ignore Jeff’s vanquished sigh at the very beginning of the episode: as Graeme quickly explains, it’s because we had been talking for close to half an hour *without it being recorded*, and so we’re starting over. From Scratch. Again. Yayyyyyyyy. But Graeme brings you up to speed, and resuscitates us all with his natural perkiness. Then before you know it we are off to talk about….Mike Deodato’s buttocks?
2:36-8:49: Yep, that’s right! Mike Deodato’s buttocks—and the rest of his crazy naked ass—made the news as he attempted to…body-shame the actor playing Namor in the new Black Panther movie?! It all seems a bit to ridiculous to be real, doesn’t it? To quote Jon Lovitz’s pathological liar character from SNL: “and yet it happened.”
8:49-37:16: “I’m kind of weirdly salty, Graeme,” announces Jeff in what may prove to the understatement of the episode, “because I read Batman: The Earth One Collection.” “It feels very much like something I would do,” adds Graeme. Why did Jeff read/re-read the three volume collection by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank? In part because wondering why he remembers so little of, in part because wondering what parts of it might’ve made in to The Batman, the Matt Reeves/Robert Pattinson joint. It takes us a while to get going on that side of the talk because we spend a certain amount of time catching up on what Johns is up to, his imprint plans for DC that seem right on the border of self-parodic, and but also we spend an embarrassingly long time trying to remember the name of the Image he did with Gary Frank. There’s a lot to unpack at least if, like us, you can’t seem to take an item out of the suitcase without identifying it first and neither of us can remember the word for “shirt.” I guess the real Batman: Earth One talk starts around the 16 minute mark or so…
37:16-47:40: Okay, so after Jeff moaning and groaning about Batman: The Earth One Collection, Graeme has some words about Flashpoint Beyond, a mini he’s five issues in on (of six!) and, as he puts it, “I have no idea what this comic is about.” (To be fair—or, I don’t know, unfair—we should mention here in the notes that Xermanico who we normally quite like is doing the art, and Johns is aided and abetted in the writing by Jeremy Adams and Tim Sheridan.) Johns and team make some very, uh, interesting storytelling choices, including spoiling the end of Dark Crisis (on Infinite Earths) before it’s been published. Come for the befuddlement, stay for Jeff digging the idea of a cold war happening within DC, with Johns taking revenge on DC for them letting the air out of the tires of his Doomsday Clock series, and John Le Carre-esque interoffice bureaucratic shenanigans! (Bureaucratic shenanigans are probably Jefff’s favorite because they’re the only kind so slow-moving he can keep up with them.)
47:40-52:21: Speaking of the Justice Society, Jeff didn’t know that the JSA was basically the heroes of two different comic companies teaming up until, uh, some spectacularly shady stuff happened…but Graeme does, and gives us the scoop (as well as lamenting the fact that one of the hands-down best books about the early history of the comics industry, Men of Tomorrow, was written by a convicted owner of child pornography).
52:21-1:07:30: Perhaps smartly turning away from the relatively dark cul-de-sac we had entered, Graeme asks, “Jeff, have you read something that you liked?” And the answer, of course, is yes but maybe a far more scattered one than Jeff would have liked—he shouts out Chainsaw Man, Even If You Slit My Mouth, Kaguya-Sama: Love is War—but pivots to talking about maybe having too many manga streaming sites and maybe how some of what he’s been liking is how he’s reading more than what he’s reading? This leads us to talk about Marvel Unlimited and the stuff we’ve both recently read on there—Jason Aaron on Avengers and Punisher, Zeb Wells and JR JR on Amazing Spider-Man—and how much we want it to scratch the itch and yet somehow isn’t quite? Related to that is Amazing Fantasy #1000 which Graeme read, wanted to not be underwhelmed by (I mean…Armando Iannucci writing Spider-Man, for Christ’s sake!)
1:07:30-2:24:22: Oboy. So here is where maybe things go off the rails…or not? Thanks to DCUI, Jeff is five issues into the Human Target mini by Tom King and Greg Smallwood—and oh my god, in a way I’m so sorry we will not be spending the next hour-plus talking about our mutual love, admiration, and awe for Greg Smallwood’s art here? It’s exceptionally gorgeous which we’ve both mentioned before and will again but never really quite dig into enough about just how *fucking* good it is? But no, instead, although it ramps up verrrry slowly, what emerges is one of our semi-annual fights about Tom King’s work, and how that fight—or so it seems by the end—highlights and/or possibly amplifies our different approaches to, I guess, this podcast? It’s a little hard to unpack here, so you just gotta listen. Oh, but I’ll probably talk about some of our major discussion shifts—like for example our discussions about what we both took away from Strange Adventures and Rorschach (and boy oh boy do I wish we’d had *that* discussion while both books were still fresh in my mind). Oh, and FULL SPOILERS for the sixth issue of Human Target which came out months ago but still is not on DCUI, and also spoilers for Strange Adventures and Rorschach! And good news, this is pretty much how the conversation goes for something like a full ninety minutes so….we’re sorry? (As Graeme would say.) Oh, and among other things, we have very different readings of this but it ties into the discussion so if you haven’t read it yet, that may clarify parts of our chat.
2:24:22-end:  Closing comments! Read Volume 39 of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files and join us here in two weeks!  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme (and not a Twitter: Graeme at Popverse!) 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:  Another fortnight wait? What? Drokk!!

 

 

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Previously on Drokk!: We’re definitely in the homestretch when it comes to Drokk!, with just a couple of volumes of the Complete Case Files waiting for us after this one. We’re also definitely headed towards what I’d term the modern era of Dredd, with Wagner anchoring a group of writers capable of delivering just what you want from Mega-City One on a regular basis… although, in the case of this volume, we’re still working out some of the kinks in that respect, as you’re about to discover.

0:00:00-0:06:08: After a metatextual, self-referential cold open, we introduce the book we’re reading this this episode — Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 38, collecting material from 2003 and 2004 — and talk about how oddly incongruous it is to have a Reservoir Dogs-referencing cover from thes era, and complaining about how poorly John Smith and Alan Grant’s material compares to everything John Wagner writes for this book, because Wagner is on fire this time around.

0:06:09-0:13:46: Just how bad is the John Smith-written story “Meatmonger”? Bad enough that Jeff calls it, “among the worst opening salvos a Case Files has had,” and he’s not wrong. It’s not just Smith’s fault, though; as much as his story misses the mark in a way that honestly is unusual for Smith, the story is also doomed by the artwork of Siku, the very opposite of a Drokk! favorite, who produces his worst efforts to date with some terrible storytelling, bad rendering, and absolutely mind boggling layouts. It’s… not good, really.

0:13:47-0:24:21: Also not good is Alan Grant’s contribution to the book, “Master of Fear.” While this story boasts a pretty great art job by John Burns, the lack of Grant giving a fuck is clear on every single page of this staggeringly underwhelming, ill-considered serial that we end up likening to Grant reworking an unused Batman/Scarecrow story with minimal effort in order to make a paycheck. Again, let’s quote Jeff, who calls it “a real wet fart of a story.” Harsh but fair!

0:24:22-0:37:07: Before we turn to Wagner’s contributions, let’s check in with Gordon Rennie, the only other non-Wagner writer to show up in this volume. In the past, we’ve both complained about his writing and raved about it, likening him to John Wagner on an off-day. For the most part, we’re on the latter train of thought this time around, enjoying two of his three stories in this collection. (The less said about the third, the more-than-a-little-racist “Hong Tong,” the better; it’s an unfortunate return to the Asian Stereotypes Are Just Fine, Right? school of 2000 AD writing, which is something I think all of us had hoped had been left in the past.) He’s the John Wagner version of Garth Ennis when it comes to Dredd, we suggest, but it makes more sense when you listen, I promise.

0:37:08-1:00:23: How do we feel about John Wagner’s work in this volume? The phase “Wagner is so fucking good in this book” might have been used, and we discuss just why that’s true by going through the so-called lesser stories he offers here, all of which demonstrate his continued skill in going just that little bit further than you expect in almost every single case — all while making what he does look effortless and enjoyable. Of particular mention are his skill with silly comedy one-offs, and the way in which he makes the three-part “Cincinnati” a masterclass in building tension and diverting the reader’s attention. I think that Wagner is easily one of the greatest comic writers working today, but Jeff goes one further: he thinks that Wagner is definitely the best comic book writer when it comes to parodying sportscasters. (He’s not wrong, either.)

1:00:24-1:31:55: Unsurprisingly, we spend the most time this episode on the best story in the book, “Brothers of the Blood” — a family drama by Wagner and the great Carlos Ezquerra, both of whom are demonstrating just how good they are at what they do by doing something just slightly different: this is a more subtle, more character-driven story than we’re used to in Dredd as a whole, and especially from these two creators. It’s also a kinder story, as we both note, that really digs into the smaller ways in which Dredd has changed since his first stories, and also the ways that the clone brothers than Dredd has are both like him and unlike him. It’s also something that, of all things, raises the possibility that the loss of his original clone sibling Rico might have traumatized Dredd and stunted his emotional growth — a fate that the second Rico, new clone Doleman, and Dredd’s niece Vienna have all managed to avoid in their own ways. It’s Wagner and Ezquerra taking a victory lap while moving the emotional weight of the Dredd story forward in a small, but very important, way, and it’s just exquisite.

1:31:56-1:37:11: Of course, “Brothers of the Blood” is both of our picks for our favorite story in the book, with Jeff choosing “The Good Man” as his second favorite, while I go for “Finger of Suspicion,” both of which are examples of the silly but enjoyable one-off comedy strips he writes. When it comes to favorite non-Wagner strips, we both plump for the same Gordon Rennie/Ezquerra collaboration, “Sturm und Dang.” To the surprise of no-one, this volume is a very definite Drokk, not a Dross.

1:37:12-end: We wrap things up, as is our want, and I tease the next episode, which features the return of none other than Pat Mills to the collected editions. Is Jeff ready? Are any of us?!? As always, thank you for listening and for reading along. It’s very, very much appreciated.

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00:00-10:27:  Greetings!  Remember us? We do…we think? Jeff had some travels; Graeme’s new job is taking him to three convention in six weeks—SDCC and C2E2 already and ECCC next weekend—and it’s taken a lot out of us, to be honest. However! Graeme has come back from two cons and managed to stay healthy, which is genuinely impressive.
10:27-22:38: In the course of recounting C2E2, Graeme talks about what might’ve been its “highlight:” the Chris Claremont panel that *blew up* and its aftermath.

22:38-55:20: The idea that the Claremont story blew up in a way that Graeme rightly calls “inexplicable,” leads Jeff to talk about a possible connection in a completely different context—the findings of microaggressions waged by cartoonist Phoebe Gloeckner against students in her Graphic Narratives class at University of Michigan. Perhaps there’s a connection between the two and for better, healthier reasons than might be imagined?
55:20-1:04:54: Back to the cons! Graeme found how a lot of the differences between C2E2 and SDCC can be summed up in their talkback panels. He went to both (one of which Chloe livetweeted), and found the people running the conventions had very different ways or responding to feedback.
1:04:54-1:06:58: Another highlight of the Cons? The Todd McFarlane Spawn panel at SDCC! Hoo boy.
1:06:58-1:23:17: The Sandman! Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman! Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, now on Netflix! Graeme’s watched two-thirds of it; Jeff has watched zero-thirds…what’s it like? What’s going on with it?
1:23:17-1:34:05: Speaking of media companies in which investor interest trumps the release of product: hey, Warner Bros./Discovery! S’up? But also: Oni/Lion Forge! Valiant! Tapas!
1:34:05-1:39:44: Oh hey, let’s talk about comics we’ve been reading, while there’s still some time left in the episode. To start we wax rhapsodic about Kate Beaton’s Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands which is extraordinary. Apologies if we are vague in our effusiveness, but we both think there’s so much to be gained from just walking in to it cold. Do pick it up, however: it really is tremendous.
1:39:44-1:44:29: Props to podcast listeners Bruce Baugh and Skye who both recommended Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou by Hitoshi Ashinano. Jeff bought the first volume of the new deluxe editions coming out from Seven Seas, and he loves it like crazy.
1:44:29-1:54:10: Also an object of passion for Jeff—though apparently not one especially well-centered in his memory—these webcomics by Abhay using the power of Midjourney to generate the images. Among the things I did not remember about it, however, was talking to Graeme about it already during one of the skip weeks, as well as the upcoming adaptation of The Abolition of Man by Carson Grubaugh (also using Midjourney); and the John Wagner/Cam Kennedy Judge Dredd story “Beyond Our Kenny” which, with many hijinks and shenanigans, was actually uncomfortably prescient about all this way back in….1990!?
1:54:10-2:05:53: As for Graeme, he very much wants to talk about how he was “floored” by book five of Brink by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard (due out at the end of November 2022). After four volumes focusing Bridget Kurtis and her battle in the space Habitats of the future against future cults, the fifth volume focuses on a journalist investigating a story that threatens to turn everything the inhabitants of Brink think they know—and the readers of Brink thought they knew—on its head.
2:05:53-:end Closing comments? Next week is a skip week and then….? We are back with Drokk, yes. Read Volume 38 of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files and join us here in two weeks, that we can say for certain. (Don’t get me wrong, we have more to say, we’re just much less certaion.)
And oh yes:  Graeme’s newsletter (https://www.getrevue.co/profile/ComicsFYI!) and new gig! Plus:   Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! (and Chloe, but also check out the excellent writing available through her Patreon!) 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 week!  Then join us in a fortnight for Drokk!, featuring Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files Vol. 38 and join us here next week!!
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Previously on Drokk!: The unlikely combination of Judge Dredd and the Alien franchise produced a particularly strong epic, while relative newcomer Gordon Rennie staked a claim as the best non-John Wagner writer the character has seen since the earliest days of Alan Grant. Things are looking up!

0:00:00-0:06:51: In addition to Jeff’s unexpected a cappella version of the theme music, we introduce ourselves and the book we’re talking about this episode: Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 37, which collects material from 2003. That’s right; we’re within two decades of publication now, shockingly. I start complaining about the volume early, setting the tone for what’s to follow.

0:06:52-0:25:01: We slide quickly into talking about “The Trial of Orlok,” a two-part story that manages to simultaneously underwhelm and overwhelm the reader in wrapping up the long-running plot about the Sov-City super spy and his attempt to get revenge on Dredd for the events of the Apocalypse War. Why does this story fail to offer anything new, and why are there so many panels and speech balloons per page? Is Wagner trying to echo his earlier trial of Dredd storyline with this one? Is Cam Kennedy the wrong artist for this story, and relatedly, am I the sumo wrestler of Cam Kennedy fans? (It’ll make sense when you listen, I promise. Well, more sense.) And, most importantly, why does this storyline feel like such a waste of everyone’s time, and Orlok’s potential?

0:25:02-0:51:23: I was similarly disappointed with “The Satanist,” but in discussing it with Jeff, I admit that I find myself pretty much turned around to a large degree. Its a Hammer Horror pastiche to some degree, and Jeff’s love of that and explanation as to why some of the shortcomings are actually, if not intentional, then at least in keeping with the source material genuinely helped me enjoy the story more. Also discussed: Dredd’s complicated relationship with his niece, and his similarly complicated relationship with his family in general; Dredd as comics’ greatest asexual, and what that means for his placement in a horror leaning heavily into noir tropes; Jeff’s description of Dredd’s uniform as “old man PJs”; and much, much more!

0:51:24-1:14:09: “There’s no sizzle on this steak!” is what Jeff has to say about “Revenge of the Chief Judge’s Man,” a storyline that he actually likes quite a bit — in no small part because of John Burns’ art, which we surprisingly don’t talk about much at all. (It’s really good.) Instead, we focus on Jeff’s love of what he himself calls “First Blood shit,” as well as an unexpected LMD twist with a great punchline at the end, the sudden switch into unstoppable superpowers mode for the eponymous Chief Judge’s Man, and the ways in which none of the fine ingredients for this particular story end up coming together entirely successfully. Come for the analysis, stay for Jeff’s great booing of me when he doesn’t agree with what I’m saying. (Honestly, I think the booing is really funny.) Actually, no; stay for Jeff talking about John Wagner’s narration and how successful it is, because he’s entirely right on that front.

1:14:10-1:36:15: Just an episode after we sang Gordon Rennie’s praises for being very Wagner-esque, we return to find his work in this volume lacking — but is that because of the page length on the Dredd strips in this particular era, and what that does to the comedy material? We also talk about the Megazine material from this volume in general, which includes a story actually called “Phartz,” one of shockingly two stories in this book about deadly forces that have uses for their victims’ anuses. (Unsurprisingly, “Inside Job,” the other of those two, also comes under discussion.) Plus! I don’t like Robbie Morrison’s sole contribution to the volume, “Hard Days Night,” and we briefly talk about how important I find artwork to Dredd shorts, and Dredd as a strip in general, all of which leads into…

1:36:16-1:56:04: Garth Ennis had one last Dredd story in him after all, and it’s… not very good..? It does, however, feature amazing art from John Higgins, and we spend some time singing his praises, deservedly. Otherwise, we talk about the strange continuity mistake at the center of this story — something that gets Jeff referring to it as an Elseworlds — and the metaphors and real world politics that might lie underneath what is otherwise a pretty bigoted and gross story. (Really, commenters, Jeff and I would both genuinely love to know if you’re seeing what we are with this one.)

1:56:05-end: We wrap things up by asking Drokk or Dross, and at least one of us can’t make up our minds. (It’s me; Jeff thinks it’s Drokk.) Jeff’s favorite stories are “The Satanist” or “Monkey on my Back,” despite the bigotry at its core because that John Higgins art is so good; mine is, after I change my mind at the last minute, “Holding On,” a slight but amusing comedy short. “Bato Loco” is Jeff’s least favorite story, but I opt for “See Zammy Run,” and I make Jeff sad by teasing the return of Siku in the next volume. (I couldn’t help myself.) As always, we mention the Twitter and the Patreon, and as always, I’m very grateful for those who read and listened along with us this month.

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00:00-13:46:  Greetings!  Sure seems like it’s been a while, huh? That, anyway, is how your two hosts feel, although that may be mitigated by one of them having COVID (Jeff), one of them just having been boosted (Graeme), and both of them feeling like the week gone by somehow felt seven years long! Catch up with us as we catch up with each other, and enjoy Graeme’s ascent/descent into those vague oracular statements we all love so much! But: before we get there, here’s the link to the Friday newsletter he wrote but couldn’t send out, and a Miracleman-related tin hat theory Graeme has that…he actually shares with us?! It’s either “you heard it here first” scoop, or a “well, ya know, points for trying to read those tea leaves, Graeme” but either way it’s entertaining!
13:46-22:38: And for a change, instead of tackling the comics news (barring Graeme’s guess that could end up being news), we’re moving right into the comics we’ve been reading. Graeme takes the lead with an amazing overview of….Axel Pressbutton and Laser Eraser by Steve Moore, Steve Dillon, Alan Davis, David Lloyd, and others? I’m surprised, but really…should I be?
22:38-1:19:44: Arguably a little more on point is an even more thorough overview of the Keith Giffen/J.M.
DeMatteis run on Justice League (and Justice League International, and Justice League Quarterly) about which Graeme and Chloe are about eight issues away from having the complete run. A very handy—and extensive!—explainer whether you’ve only been exposed to WW84‘s Maxwell Lord, or if you, like Jeff, feel a certain strange tingle of recognition at the name Manga Khan (but can barely remember why). Jeff can’t help mentioning Tom King’s The Human Target (the first three issues of which he had read on the very day of recording) but Graeme does a pretty good job of steering us into safer waters, talking about the influence of these books on the current generation of creators and how understandable that is. Also discussed: Dark Crisis; the current arc of Action Comics; the Zdarsky/Jimenez arc of Batman that debuted this week; Batman vs. Robin #1 by Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar; The New Champion of Shazam by Josie Campbell and Evan “Doc” Shaner.
1:19:44-1:43:14: Jeff’s turn to talk about what he’s been reading! Graeme’s mention of Philip Kennedy Johnson’s run on Action is a good in to the Johnson-written issues of Alien, the first ten of which are up on Marvel Unlimited. Post-Incubus (the Dredd/Aliens crossover we covered in our last Drokk!), Jeff decided to check them out….and so did Graeme! Jeff talks about the pros and cons of Johnson’s writing, leaving Graeme to talk about the cons and even bigger cons of Salvador Larroca’s art (and a very nice little talk about the importance of good coloring and how it can elevate material).
1:43:14-1:46:22: Jeff works a semi-clumsy segue to mention: Eternals Vol. 1: Only Death is Eternal by Kieron Gillen and Esad Ribic (and Matthew Wilson on colors), collecting the first six issues of the current series. As a “fan” [??] of the Eternals movie, Jeff thought this volume is actually in many ways a perfect remake, taking so many of the ideas and approaches in the film and, quite frankly, doing them better in almost every particular. Graeme, non-fan of the film that he is, does not think that’s a high bar to clear but….I wanted to mention it, anyway. Very good stuff.
1:46:22-1:55:35: Speaking of non-fans and “fans”[??], we had very different experiences watching Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness! Which is to say, we both saw a not-at-all-good movie barely hanging together enough to get from one scene to the next….but one of us enjoyed it, and the other did not.
1:55:35-end: Closing comments? Welllll, maybe. First, we have to get over the hump of figuring out our schedule for the rest of the month, since Graeme is going to SDCC (yikes!!) and the following weekend Jeff is going to visit his mother in law (double yikes!!!). Let’s just say there’ll be a Drokk next week, and then at least one skip week and quite possibly two? But! Then!  Graeme’s newsletter (https://www.getrevue.co/profile/ComicsFYI!)  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:  Drokk—it’s here already!!  Read Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files Vol. 37 and join us here next week!!
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Previously on Drokk!: While I usually use this space to talk about where we are in terms of the larger Judge Dredd mythology, there’s only one way to properly discuss what’s come before this episode: I have talked up the Judge Dredd/Aliens: Incubus crossover for a lot of episodes, and now it’s finally here. Get ready.

0:00:00-0:02:37: Welcome, dear friends, to the podcast that is closer to the end than you might think. (Wait until the end of the episode for more information on that.) This time around, we’re reading Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 36, collecting material from 2000 AD and The Judge Dredd Megazine from late 2002 and early 2003; we speed through the introduction before I mention Siku, which quickly leads us to…

0:02:38-0:18:11: For once, we start with a discussion about the visuals of Dredd in this era, starting with a brief discussion about the many weaknesses (and, thankfully, some strengths) of Siku, a much-derided artist in earlier episodes who returns for a one-off in this volume. More derision is delivered on this go-around to Ian Gibson, an artist previously lauded by Jeff, who might just be out of sync with what we’re looking for my this point, as well as the solid-but-uninteresting Paul Marshall; we also talk about color choices in this volume — and, indirectly, media choices, in terms of computer coloring versus paints — but perhaps the most important thing mentioned in this section is this: Mick McMahon’s Dredd now has lips.

0:18:12-0:31:02: Moving swiftly on, Jeff and I enjoyed a particularly rare moment of the two of us independently having the same reaction to something in a Case Files; namely — Gordon Rennie has, seemingly without notice, turned into quite an impressive understudy for John Wagner. Both of us read some of his contributions to this volume — most notably, “After Hours,” although Jeff’s also a fan of his “Give Me Liberty” — and thought it was actually Wagner’s work, albeit “John Wagner on a bad day”… something that we genuinely both mean as a compliment, as we try to unpack here. What makes Rennie’s Dredd suddenly feel so authentic? What does writing a good Wagner Dredd mean? We try to answer both questions, and arguably succeed to some extent.

0:31:03-0:47:10: What starts as a brief discussion about Jim Baikie’s art in this volume quickly becomes a potted history of Baikie’s career, and then, on an entirely different note, both of us expressing our disappointment in “Rotten Manners,” the final installment in the “Bad Manners” trilogy about a corrupt Judge that, impressively, manages to do almost everything wrong that the first story did right: it’s too broad, too clean, and far too confident that the system will succeed. It would leave a particularly unpleasant taste in our collective mouth, if it wasn’t for…

0:47:11-1:19:37: Perhaps surprisingly — well, I was surprised, at least — Jeff turns out to have dug Incubus, the Dredd/Aliens crossover, as much as I hoped he would, with a couple of caveats relating to his overall suspicion of the Alien franchise and narrative problems therein. Nonetheless, this isn’t just a great Alien(s) comic, it’s a great Dredd story too, and we talk about why that’s the case, the things that make the story work so well as both, and the ways in which the two different properties provide something that fits so well with the other. Also! We sing Henry Flint’s praises a lot, and still it’s arguably not enough. Really, this is just great comics right here. (And Jeff brings up the videogame BroForce, because of course he does.)

1:19:38-1:27:37: It sounds as if we’re about to wrap things up by mentioning whether the volume is Drokk or Dross, but no! Instead, we have a diversion about “Out of the Undercity,” another story in the book that tenuously connects to Incubus, and then we talk some more about the Judge Death connections and references to the Aliens franchise in general. What else do you expect, if not our getting in our own ways as we’re talking?

1:27:38-end: Now, we finally get to wrapping things up by talking about our favorite stories that aren’t an Aliens crossover in the volume — “Zoom Time” being mine, and “Give Me Liberty” being Jeff’s — as well as the overall leap in quality of this volume, and briefly looking ahead to what’s coming up before mentioning the Twitter and Patreon, and enjoying Jeff’s ever-evolving voice of Dredd outro. One thing we didn’t talk about but should have: we’ll be back in two weeks for a new Wait, What?, so enjoy next week off, Whatnauts.

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00:00-10:21: Greetings! Podcast chum and all-around good egg Chloe Maveal joins us for Pride 2022, and ho ho ho we hope you like messy episodes because Jeff brings *the mess* to this episode! But first, let’s start us with this, dear listener, the greetings of one another and in our secret way (or so I like to think while editing and composing these show notes) the greeting of you as well!

10:21-25:55: “Community theater done by teens is the best thing that’s ever happened,” declares Chloe (correctly) and Jeff takes this as his cue to ask for Graeme and Chloe’s feelings about Dead Again, the 1991 “thriller” directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh. Jeff isn’t sure if it’s camp or crap, and Graeme and Chloe aren’t sure why Jeff isn’t sure—Graeme in particular feels comfortable in pronouncing it definitely crap—but as has happened in the past, Jeff’s inability to understand or wield the tool called camp leads to some discussiong of that and good ol’ (by which we mean bad ol’) Dead Again. (With some bonus slagging of the movie Belfast.)
25:55-31:27: And here we have some Pride related questions from Jeff about the much-talked-about Homosexual Agenda, Our Flag Means Death, reappropriating “No Homo,” and more that you may well find to be a light-but-cringey precursor of our serious-but-probably-also-cringey conversation to come. (Get excited!)
31:27-37:32: So based on Chloe’s answers, it’s probably better I don’t pay money to subscribe to the Homosexual Agenda Substack? And that leads us into a brief spot of discussion about Grant Morrison’s Substack, including which of the three of us gets called out by name as one of their favorite comics journalists. (Plus: bonus John Wagner content! And bonus bonus Earth Girls Are Easy content, as well as a quick review of Pistols, the Danny Boyle directed relatively entertaining five part miniseries about the Sex Pistols).
37:32-43:23: And Danny Boyle and the Sex Pistols, it seems like an easy jump to Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, and from there a bit of joyful blab about the Oeuvre de Baz generally.
43:23-1:49:11: Book time! Comic book time! For Chloe’s appearance, we agreed in advance to read the first appearance of Devlin Waugh from 1992—Swimming in Blood by John Smith and Sean Phillips. Jeff is asked first what he thought, and his answer includes Tom Hardy, and some worrying inferences he drew about the staging and about Waugh. The far more aware G&C talk in turn about the Terry Thomas and camp (and perhaps if Jeff had seen or remembered seeing Terry Thomas and had caught on to the star’s influence on Devlin’s appearance and mannerisms); the period in 2000 AD this was published in (not quite contemporaneous with, but certainly part of the run up to, the infamous “Summer Offensive” of 1993); antiheroes as “bad” people or “not good” people; Jeff’s apparent sexual hang-ups about underwater vampires; Morrissey, young and old; and oh so much more.
1:49:11-2:05:45: As for *this* century’s contribution to comics and Pride, we have…the DC Pride: Tim Drake Special #1? Graeme has read it, Chloe and Jeff have not, and it moves into a problem at least two of us are having with cape comics these days—just too much insularity, and (maybe?) not enough work being put on the page to sell readers who are not already sold? But on the other hand, Crush and Lobo sounds pretty good and, as Graeme puts it, “the reader doesn’t have to do all the work?”
2:05:45-2:15:00: PIVOT! To the world’s weirdest announcement from Marvel—they are doing Planet of the Apes comics again! Of course, Graeme is curious as to Jeff’s thoughts what with Jeff being as a big POTA fan as he is….and the Jeff’s thoughts may perhaps match yours: “Why?!” What in God’s name are you thinking, Marvel?”
2:15:00-end: Closing comments!  Graeme’s newsletter (https://www.getrevue.co/profile/ComicsFYI!)  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! (and Chloe, but also check out the excellent writing available through her Patreon!) 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:  Drokk! Read Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files Vol. 36 and join us here next week!!
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