Previously on Drokk!: With co-creator John Wagner now seemingly fully installed as the primary — indeed, seemingly the sole, Dredd writer once again, the strip seems to be once again finding its feet even as it appears to be quietly trying to reinvent itself…

0:00:00-0:02:51: After one of my favorite cold opens in Drokk! history, we introduce the volume we’re reading this time around — Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 29, covering material from 1998 and 1999, by Wagner, a small army of artists, and the surprise return of Alan Grant, who writes two stories herein — before getting down to business. Jeff also makes a great choice in naming the block this time around, too.

0:02:52-0:14:54: Jeff feels as if a way in to talking about this volume is to compare the returning Alan Grant to John Wagner, and so we talk about their differing approaches to Dredd, and the world of Judge Dredd the comic strip; according to Mr. Lester, Grant is “shaggy” in a way that Wagner isn’t, whereas I think that he’s just sillier — or, really, that Wagner plays his own silliness more straight. “He knows where he wants to hit his marks,” Jeff points out, but is that it? Is Wagner just a more assured, successful writer?

0:14:55-0:58:57: Because it’s us, we then go into the most frustrating portion of the entire book: “Worst of Frendz,” which is somehow even more disappointing than that title would suggest. Is it the “weird flex,” as I put it, of the threesome scene between two unnamed, unclothed women and the cyborg villain Nero Narcos, who has a checks notes telescopic penis? Is it the sub-Mark Millar dialogue? Is it the genuinely appalling artwork? Sure! All of the above and more. In theory, the story is a lead in to “The Scorpion Dance,” which is arguably the heart of this volume — one that I enjoyed and Jeff did not, and there’s a lot of back and forth about the reasons between the two opinions: I enjoyed the art, Jeff thought it was too crowded; I enjoyed the DeMarco arc, and Jeff thinks it’s a sign that neither Dredd nor John Wagner care about her as an individual; I like Judge Edgar as an antagonist, Jeff thinks she’s a sign that Wagner might be a misognynist, and so on. Jeff’s feeling that the storyline doesn’t go far enough is, arguably, somewhere that I think he’s on firmer ground, even if it’s a feeling I didn’t share because I’ve read further stories, but let’s just be happy that we can agree that “Worst of Frendz” is, by any stretch of the imagination, bad.

0:58:58-1:10:35: Fearful that we’re just spending an episode talking about what we don’t like, I ask Jeff about his favorite stories from the volume, and then share some of mine. We talk all-too-briefly about “Mega-City Way of Death,” which is genuinely great and should have been discussed more, as well as “Dreams of Glory” and a handful of other good stuff, before we somehow end up back on the topic of the slow burn of the Narcos plot and where it’s leading next volume. Look, apparently, we were in a circular frame of mind when we recorded this.

1:10:36-1:20:04: Jeff asks about two particular stories — “Wounded Heart” and “Christmas Angel,” both of which are sequels to earlier (more successful) Dredd stories — and I admit my disappointment in both, particularly the former, which I fully believe exists purely so Wagner can both meet his deadline requirements and use the pun that ends the strip. I also share my disappointment in “Simp City,” another strip that returns to old material trying to find something new to say, only to fail, and Jeff talks about how he initially believed better things were in the offing… only to quickly realize his mistake.

1:20:05-1:30:00: As we both agree that this volume, despite its shortcomings, is Drokk, not Dross, I suggest that the material from the Judge Dredd Magazine is stronger than its contemporary 2000 AD material, which Jeff takes issue with — we talk about that for a little while, before talking about favorite stories from the volume: Mine is “The Contract,” Jeff’s is “Mega-City Way of Death.” (Our least favorites are “Grud’s Big Day,” and “Worst of Frendz,” for the curious.)

1:30:01-end: As we close out the episode, I ask Jeff what he’s expecting from the next volume before teasing what’s actually coming up in the next volume. If that was my attempt at a surprise, though, he’s got me beat, by scheduling future recording sessions without me knowing, as you’ll hear me discover on air — and then we’re talking about Patreon and Twitter before skedaddling altogether. As always, thank you for reading and listening; we’ll be back in a month for a Dredd crossover with a difference.


0:01-6:25: Greetings!  Tech mishaps are a thing of the very recent past, so you get to hear Graeme and Jeff talk about those as they clear the decks for another scintillating episode of Wait, What?! And what’s a better way to cleanse the palette than complaining about tech, we ask you? (No really, we need to know, clearly, because we not only go on about it for far too long, we use some amazingly inapt metaphors…)
6:25-42:35: Fortunately, Jeff goes on to blame all of our tech problems on the return of SAGA, which is a very good segue (if I do say so myself) because it allows us to talk about, yes, the return of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staple’s beloved sci-fi family epic! We talk about how long it’s been gone, how much of its audience will return with it, the Game of Thrones prequel (House of the Dragon), The Matrix Rebooteration, Daredevil: The Target, the return of the Busiekverse, Love and Rockets, Jeff’s experience reading Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, Vol. 5 (the American version, so vols. 9 and 10 of the Japanese tankōbon), Graeme McMillan: the Littlest Hobo, and more.
42:35-49:49: Graeme has re-read (and as he says, in some cases, read) Evan Dorkin’s Pirate Corp$ and its continuation, Hectic Planet. It kind of ties in to what we’re talking about on many levels—it like some of the examples from our first half-hour remains unfinished—but was also read just as its own thing that Graeme, a fan of Dorkin, wanted the chance to fully (re-)experience. Also discussed: this thread from Dorkin talking about stepping back from comics for a bit.
49:49-1:02:50: Good news/bad news: if last episode you enjoyed us shit talking Scott McCloud’s Reinventing Comics based on our memories of more than twenty years, you’ll be interested to know that Graeme sat his ass down, got a copy from the library, and re-read it. And what he discovered in revisiting it may…surprise you?! It’s a great little segment if you’re interested in setting the record straight, less so if (like Jeff) you just wanted complain about it some more?
1:02:50-1:15:49: And to add faux insult to nonexistent injury, Graeme has read the first arc of Kieron Gillen and Esad Ribic’s The Eternals series for Marvel, despite the potential for tsk-ery from Jeff. With great restraint, Graeme manages to avoid spoiling the end of the first arc (since it’s not yet out on Marvel Unlimited) but also talks about all the good stuff Gillen and Ribic bring to the book. It is a blissfully spoiler free discussion that nonetheless digs into why Graeme thinks the book is quite possibly the best thing Marvel is publishing right now.
1:15:49-1:34:19: Graeme’s also been swigging from DC’s well of Outsiders comics, re-reading not just the 80s incarnation by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo (and others, as Jeff finds out) but also the very different re-incarnation by Barr in the ’90s. The Outsiders, the quintessential 80s super-team, as a 90s title? Graeme tells us what works and what doesn’t and we speculate about why.
1:34:19-1:49:54: Are you ready for another round of My Four Manga? Graeme is (thank goodness) and Jeff kind of is? So join us as we talk about The Walking Cat; You’re My Demon Lord, Senpai!; Booty Royale, Never Go Down Without A Fight; and Reborn as a Vending Machine, I Wander the Dungeon! Can Graeme guess the fake? Can Jeff stump Graeme?
1:49:54-1:55:35: You might’ve missed Joe (“Jog”) McCulloch’s brilliant obit/tribute to Takao Saito, creator of Jeff’s beloved Golgo 13 (Jeff is far from alone in that regard, as you know.). He takes the time to mention Jog’s excellent piece, in part so he can link to it here. (Jeff also talks quickly about some of the other stuff he’s read recently.)
1:55:35-1:58:27: And Graeme mentions how much he’s enjoyed reading The Phoenix Colossal Comics Collection, a—you guessed it—very big collection of comics from the UK’s Phoenix magazine.
1:58:27-end:  Closing Comments are a go! 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: Rock out with your Drokk out! Read Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files, Vol. 29 and join us!

0:01-4:25: Greetings!  A smidge of an opening leads to us very quickly brainstorming ideas for the newest Scottish children’s book star, Smidge The Midge, and quite probably gives you a head’s up for what kind of episode you might be in for. (In retrospect, it should’ve for us but I don’t know if we were aware of it at the time…).
4:25-30:49: But don’t you worry yourself none, we are off and talking about comic books (though Jeff, as you soon hear, starts off for more than a bit hobbled) with Graeme reading a lot of Venom comics, more specifically, Venom Epic Collection: Symbiosis, the stuff that basically leads up to Venom being Venom. (And I’m including the Comixology link because Marvel is currently having a BOGO for the next twenty-four hours or so that this is up, so if you have some other Marvel collection you’ve been wanting to pick up and want nearly 500 pages of what Graeme describes as “nuts…genuinely wacky,” this is your chance?) But reading it Graeme finds himself a little put off by the Micheline/McFarlane stuff that launched Venom and is still considered one of the defining runs on Spider-Man. Why? Does Jeff feel the same? How many more rhetorical questions can be used to pad out this entry? Two?
But beyond that is a larger discussion about where the sweet spots are for superheroes, when that passes, and whether or not Spider-Man works better as a visually dynamic character in a less dynamic artistic presentation, or as a dynamic character in artistically dynamic stories.
30:49-41:53: Kind of an awkward place to put in a show note transition, but our discussion of Spider-Man’s design led us to talking about the redesign of DC characters for the New 52, and so here we are at this particular point in things where we go from talking about Flash’s New 52 redesign (which has stuck) to what’s happening with Wally West, Barry Allen and the semi-but-not-5G approach of having Barry off doing adventures in Infinite Frontier, and some quality harrumphing from Jeff about the latest issue of Nightwing that gets pulled from its current storyline into the Batman Fear State event.
41:53-47:15: The talk of subtext in one of the Batman-related books leads Graeme to talk very elliptically about the final issue of Strange Adventures by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Evan “Doc” Shaner and how it plays against the conclusion of Rorschach by King and Jorge Fornes. It’s a spoiler-free discussion which will either intrigue you or find you clamoring for more solid details…but at least it’s spoiler free!
47:15-59:47: Rorschach, Spider-Man…it’s almost like we planned to talk about the direct and indirect influence Steve Ditko has had on the American comics industry as a way to give a sense of context to the news that his estate has filed a termination notice for the rights to Spider-Man and Doctor Strange (as well as other creators such as Larry Leiber and Gene Colan also represented by Marc Toberoff). It may—or may not—end up being a very big deal.
59:47-1:08:36: A stray wocka-wocka leads us into what I would call “prime Wait, What? digression territory?” as we end up discussing—and, really, try to stop discussing—which muppets would play which Marvel staffers/creators in the Muppet Marvel biopic. Graeme calls repeatedly to listeners to chime in with your suggestions in the comments. *Please* do! It’s fifteen hours later and I can still barely think of anything else!
1:08:36-1:39:01: From the absurd to the less-than-sublime: we talk about our experiences with the Infinite comics released on Marvel Unlimited as well as the Batman Family comic (among others) on Webtoons. The future of comics? Maybe we can only fully understand the future of comics by scrutinizing a fragment of its path—that is, Scott McCloud’s tremendously underwhelming follow-up to Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics. Yes, as a wise man once said, “those who don’t complain about their past are doomed to repeat it (and by it, I mean ‘complaining about the present’).”
1:39:01-1:47:49: Jeff *very* much wants to deliver a new installment of “My Four Manga” but cannot since he’s almost entirely been reading stuff previously mentioned and therefore offering no guesswork possibilities: Fist of the North Star, Vol. 2 by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara; Sweat and Soap, Vol. 9, by Kintetsu Yamada; and chapters of Drowning Love by George Asakuara (which Jeff calls Drowning God which is, um, wrong).
1:47:49-2:18:56: Graeme, by contrast, has been catching up on and was hugely impressed by The Many Deaths of Laila Starr by Ram V and Filipe Andrade; Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters by Chris and Laura Samnee and Matthew Wilson; and Joshua Dysart’s Valiant “trilogy” of Harbinger, Imperium, and The Life and Death of Toyo Harada. And some thoughts Graeme has had about trying to compare Dysart’s story with what Hickman’s done with X-Men leads to us discussing talking about Hickman’s departure from the x-books, some of the more extreme theories surrounding them, and areas of Graeme’s discontent with the redirection of the X-titles. Also discussed: Russell T. Davies returning to Dr. Who and his previous track record of understanding U.S. history; and much more.
2:18:56-end:  Closing Comments…or are they? 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: Skip week again!  Join us in a fortnite for the first episode of October!

Previously on Drokk!: As co-creator John Wagner once again takes sole control of Mega-City One, writing the series for both 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Magazine, a new calm settles on the future lawman’s world. A calm called, “these comics are just… good, aren’t they…?”

0:00:00-0:04:40: After a cold open that accidentally foreshadows the episode to follow, we introduce the book we’re discussing this episode — Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 28, which contains material from 2000 AD Progs 1084-1099, and 1101-1110, and Magazine Vol. 3 #2 39 through 45, all from 1998 — and I manage to get John Wagner’s name wrong after 31 episodes. “Alan Wagner,” indeed. What was I thinking? Also discussed: that we’re in a “comfort food” era of Dredd, where the high quality comes with a familiarity that’s hard to ignore. (Or, for that matter, define.)

0:04:41-0:14:15: We dive into the longest story in the book, “Beyond the Call of Duty,” which is a quasi-sequel to “The Pit,” the mega-epic from a few volumes back that Jeff and I loved a lot. That’s less true here, and we talk about the reasons why: how the story underwhelms in terms of emotional arc, and hurts one of the two main characters in the process, Jeff’s comparison to the work of Joe Esterhaus (and who saw that coming?), and the unexpected debt Ed Piskor’s Red Room owes this storyline, whether he knows it or not. Galen Demarco deserves better, dammit.

0:14:16-0:25:04: This is a really good looking book, and we talk about the art a little bit, singling out Alex Ronald, Trevor Hairsine and John Burns as standout artists — Siku, too, is a standout, but not for good reasons; we go into depth with the ways in which his work isn’t hitting the mark. In addition to my love for Ronald’s “Handbangers” story, Jeff also points out one of the reasons why this volume feels particularly strong in terms of visuals: the artists are, for the most part, getting stories that work with their strengths.

0:25:05-0:49:44: Following on from the previous episode, we talk about the return of “Judge Dad,” AKA the idea that, under Wagner, Dredd will occasionally be the voice of moral authority in a way that arguably steps outside the confines of the strip as it’s previously existed. This means touching on both “A Death in the Family” and “Sex, Lies, and Vidslugs,” two Magazine stories that see Wagner’s anger feed into his satire, with Jeff putting forward the idea that the serious stories are jokes, and the joke stories are serious, this time around; we also talk about two comedy shorts, “Vidspex” and “No More Jimmy Deans,” that feel as if Wagner is reaching for something larger than the story unfolding on the page. Also under discussion: Is Dredd soap opera, or something else? And is Wagner trying to address that very question in the stories collected in this book?

0:49:45-1:07:58: Jeff suggests that Dredd is “flatter” in this book, and we talk about that idea — and the idea that it’s actually difficult to talk about this book because, while the majority of it is very good stuff, it’s also good in such a way that we’ve seen before, and that makes it difficult to have new insight about. It really is a comfort food collection, and we go back and forth about what that really means, and if we should be concerned that there’s no particular innovation in this volume. (Short answer: Not really, because Wagner’s shown himself to recover from this kind of lull before, and also, these lulls are so damn enjoyable.)

1:07:59-1:19:13: What are our favorite stories in this volume? For me, “Headbangers,” for Jeff, “Sleaze”; our least favorite story, as it turns out, is the same: “The Bouncy Brats Heist,” although Jeff leaves space for “Vidspex,” a story so utterly undermined by its artist at a time when the artist/story pairing has been unusually strong. Also, is this Drokk or Dross? The answer… won’t surprise you at all, honestly.

1:19:14-end: We look ahead to the next couple of volumes, before closing out the episode as we always do — mentioning our Instagram, Twitter and Patreon accounts. Next time: more Wagner, but with an unexpected return of Alan Grant, of all people. Be here in a month, dear Whatnauts, and until then, thanks as ever for reading and listening.


0:01-25:43: Greetings!  Graeme is a fine mood after a very eventful week, and Jeff is….Jeff and really what can any of us do about that? (I mean, look at how much Jeff has tried and see what little difference it makes!). Anyway, the slightly undercurrent of self-loathing felt by those who write about themselves in the omniscient third person is not really discussed here:  it’s largely about the difficult necessity of having uncomfortable conversations on the telephone, whether that being Graeme interviewing someone for his job or just trying to get a straight answer from his vet!  Kid update, dog update, Portland update—all this wrapped up in the time warp of “Chloe was just on the podcast *a week ago*?”  Whereas, Jeff barely survived his descent into the dangerous labyrinth the Elder Gods call….Ikea! Plus: a “pug on ‘roids” update!
25:43-45:43: Anyway, remember how Jeff kept threatening Graeme to play a game where Jeff described manga and Graeme had to figure out whether it was real or not?  Welcome to our first installment of “My Four Manga,” where Jeff names and describes four manga and Graeme has to guess which one isn’t real!  Discussed:  Steaming Sniper; A Pantyhose like World; Sweaty Garden Gacha Girls!; and Dick Fight Island.
45:43-1:42:20: And so to news—Comixology gave word that in the Fall they will be: (a) doing a huge upgrade to their app; and (b) redirecting to Amazon’s Kindle Comics/Comixology store (currently already up and running although please god let this still be in progress).  And this was followed by more news including that those who used Comixology Submit to publish their comics will have to re-upload to Kindle Comics, they will have to redo the Guided View approach, and Amazon’s cut goes up from 35% to 65% (unless the self-publisher pays the expensive uploading fees and then Amazon’s cut goes back down to 30%).  Check out this FAQ, this Comixology Submit related FAQ, and some wise words from friend of the podcast Todd Allen.  TL;DR? This is a really bad turn of events, no matter how jauntily the CEO wrote the email. We talk about it, how publishers might have received this news, how digital’s place in the market has evolved/devolved, comics on Kickstarter, Gumroad, what could happen with Substack (and what we hope happens!), Webtoons, Tapas (and the staffing behind the scenes) and more.
1:42:20-1:51:55:  Also, this week—Al Ewing tweeted a short thread on Twitter about an old drawing of Joe Bennett’s and apologizing for being so silent about it this and other problems with Bennett that have come up before. And there’s also news about Action Labs and their very poor handling of their books and their authors (there’s a lot you can turn up with a casual search on Twitter but here’s the one Graeme mentions that should have a content warning for likely suicide).
1:51:55-2:01:47: Comics! We keep on reading comics!  Graeme (soon to be guesting on the Voice of Latveria podcast) revisited some of Stan Lee/John Buscema Thor comics, has been rereading JSA, (the James Robinson/David Goyer/Geoff Johns scripted joint), which led him down a comics hideyhole to revisit JSA’s ur-text, Infinity, Inc.  Discussed: baby Todd McFarlane; Amy Reeder’s Amethyst; and more.
2:01:47-2:16:55:  Jeff, by contrast, reread 16 volumes of Steaming Sniper by Marley Caribu (a pseudonym for the writer of Old Boy) and Tadashi Matsumori.  What did Jeff take from 2,000+ pages of middle-aged man gentle fantasy? (A whole lot of comfort, but also a bit more as he talks about here.)
2:16:55-end:  Closing Comments! Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.
Next week: Time to Drokk out!  Read vol. 28 of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files and join us!

0:01-18:08: Greetings!  Tech shenanigans abound since Graeme has a new computer and a temporary workaround for recording, so we apologize right here at the top of it all for any diminishment in our normal recording standard. But fortunately, part of the reason for the workaround is that we are once again graced with the presence of crack critic Chloe Maveal! But first, listen to the stories of Graeme’s working situation pre-new computer upgrade and remember, we will not be held responsible for any resulting nightmares if you do! Anyway, if you like hearing two people wonder if they’re just old and having one extra person on the side vigorously nodding, this is the call for you! Discussed: Overton Windows and Titty Windows; the mistake of complaining in front of Graeme; and more.
18:08-31:36: This episode was recorded on what would’ve been Jack Kirby’s 104th birthday, so it’s only natural for three comic nerds to talk generally about what part of Kirby’s legacy they want to see continue, and more specifically about the most recent Kirby they’ve (re-)read and/or their current fave. Discussed: OMAC #1 (OMAC!), The Demon, New Gods, the drama in Kirby’s facial expressions, Dingbat Love and the reconstruction of Soul Love (which is currently 50% off through the end of August!), Kamandi, The Eternals, and more.
31:36-40:50: It’s that time in the podcast where Graeme talks in vague terms about something he’s read that isn’t out yet and how we should keep an eye out because he thinks it does something very interesting. (I should’ve initial capped all that and turned into a ghastly acronym but oh well.). This time around: Infinite Frontier (probably issue #6?), which turns to Jeff talking about reading the first few issues of Heroes Reborn on Marvel, Chad Nevett’s thoughts about it in his awesome newsletter, and more.
40:50-45:51: Speaking of critics who are generous and those who are unforgiving, Graeme has a point about last week’s Drokk that still confuses him—we both really liked Volume 27 of Dredd: The Complete Case Files but we spent the bulk of the episode by and large complaining about the stories that didn’t work? Why? Can Star Trek’s Ensign Tolstoy help explain it? And another good reason to check out the comments on our show notes (especially on Drokk!)

45:41-59:10: I won’t explain how we got from Dredd to Fugazi to this great story from Chloe but it all makes sense, trust me. A cameo appearance from someone’s noisy car engine distracts us into talking about the current tenor of their Portland neighborhood. Also discussed: The Fast & The Furious films, cassette mixtapes, the secret story behind Lou Bega’s Mambo No. 5 and who’d we cast in the film, and Jeff’s “parody comic” dreamed up at 5am while half-asleep and half-high, and….pride shame?
59:10-1:02:25: Normally, I do my best to hide the break in our conversations but here it can’t quite be helped, in part because you’d miss a couple of funny jokes, I think? And also because it’d be really hard to rethread an edited conversation’s passage back into talking about the latest work from Tom King without it. Discussed: the latest work from Tom King (and its six month echo currently being explored by Jeff on DCUI); and more.

1:02:25-140:27: And here’s the meat of the episode: two lovers of reality TV (Graeme and Chloe) have a conversation with the reality TV non-lover (Jeff) about Below Decks: Mediterranean for which Jeff watched the first four episodes of Season 1 of what he thought was the main Below Decks show (it wasn’t) and which G&C thought he’d be watching Season 6. (Nope!). Nonetheless, we find enough common ground to talk about how little common ground we actually still share about reality TV? Discussed: Below Decks Mediterranean, Captain Sandy, Malia White, people fucking up, schadenfreude, attractive people, how very tightly constrained narrative needs nevertheless involve narratives, people being “big trash bags”, I’m With Busey, Fboy Island, Love Island, Wandavision [?], Too Hot To Handle, soap operas, non-downer DNA, and more.

1:40:27-2:01:53: Chloe mentioned pride shaming close to the top of the hour and it seems like a good time to bring it back up and break it down (but…is it? We’re genuinely not sure!). Nonetheless, Chloe does her best! Discussed: Jackass, The Underground Railroad, The Anna Nicole Smith show, the relief of letting go, Uno, and Malia White from Below Decks: Mediterranean.
2:01:53-end:  Closing Comments—with a twist! 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: Another Wait, What?! (Wait, what?)

Previously on Drokk!: 20 years after his creation, Judge Dredd continues to patrol the streets of Mega-City One in a way that readers are comfortable with — the ultra violence, the dark humor, and the social satire wrapped up in sci-fi trappings. But as the strip heads into its third decade, series co-creator John Wagner dares to ask: what if things go slightly awry…?

0:00:00-0:04:29: After a month off for a surprise Baxter Building revival, we’re back and talking about Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 27, a book that both Jeff and I found surprisingly solid and enjoyable. (It covers material from 1997 and 1998, with strips from 2000 AD Prog’s 1053-1083, and Judge Dredd Magazine Vol. 3 #s 34 through 38.) Of course, this being us, we immediately go off topic and Jeff talks briefly about both Adam Driver musical Annette and Fleabag. We are who we are, I guess.

0:04:30-0:23:49: We didn’t get too off-topic, however, and soon find ourselves talking about the possibility that this volume is too steeped in Dredd mythology to be new reader friendly — which might be ironic, considering both that it includes a crossover with Predator, but also that it begins with a retread of a story we’ve seen at least twice before, but done in such a way that it loses the charm and humor that it’s previously displayed. Does “Holiday Special” introduce what Jeff calls “Wagner as scold,” and if so, what does that mean moving forward?

0:23:50-0:51:37: For a volume that we both enjoyed so much, we spend a long time talking about the material that didn’t work for us, especially when it comes to our discussion of “In The Year 2120,” which was almost doomed to failure from the start by nature of being an epilogue to “The Judge Child Quest” and “City of the Damned,” two mega-epics that neither of us remember particularly fondly. Unfortunately, that bad start is compounded by execution that fails to make the most of the story’s central conceit, whether it’s John Wagner failing to sell the idea or artist Jason Brashill being, honestly, too experimental with his layouts and designs for what the story really needs. As proof, we compare it to a far more successful spin on roughly the same idea in the same volume, “Spooks” — although, as Jeff suggests, even that story has some problems of its own, leading to a discussion about whether or not Wagner is failing to nail the right tone people expect from a Judge Dredd comic. (Yes, John Wagner, the guy who created the strip and defined our expectations of it.)

0:51:38-1:15:20: Returning to the idea of Wagner as scold, does this volume mark an increasing blurring of the line between Dredd and Wagner, at least in terms of whether or not the character can be an immoral bastard? Two stories raise that possibility in different ways: “Spawney,” which I enjoyed far more than Jeff — despite a final page reveal that arguably undercuts everything that came before — and ‘Ojay,” a story that is little more than the most thinly veiled primal scream from Wagner about the then-contemporary O.J. Simpson verdict. We talk about both, and the ways in which Wagner arguably fails his creation in different ways with the two. (We also talk about Alex Ronald’s art on the latter story, and one particularly strange artistic decision that, to be honest, I’d still like to see some explanation for.)

1:15:21-1:18:24: In an attempt to keep things moving, we very briefly talk about the other stories in the volume that aren’t disappointing. Despite the fact that we rush through this, I promise: There’s lot of very good material in this particular volume. Really!

1:18:25-1:40:11: Why talk about good stuff when you can talk about a car wreck, though? And so, we arrive at Predator vs. Judge Dredd, which is… not very good at all. It’s a story that doesn’t serve either property well, with the most generic take on both Dredd and the Predator showing up in a story that utterly underwhelms and features some odd narrative decisions, whether it’s having a descendent of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character from the original movie show up, or giving the Predator an ending that makes Jeff so mad, he cites Broforce as a preferable alternative. It’s such a poor showing all round that we make a brief digression into whether or not all Dredd intracompany crossovers are a bad idea for Rico’s more popular brother. (They’re not; the first Batman/Dredd and the later Dredd/Aliens are both great.)

1:40:12-end: We wrap things up by revealing whether this volume is Drokk or Dross — it’s Drokk, honest — and name our favorite stories. (Me: “Bo Peeper,” or the multi-part “Missing,” Jeff’s is “Mrs. Gunderson’s Little Adventure,” and we very briefly talk about both here.) We also look forward to the deluge of John Wagner awaiting us in the next few volumes, Jeff realizes just how he’d finish his dream Dredd story, and we plug the Twitter, Instragram and Patreon, as we always do when we’re bringing things to a close. As always, thanks for reading and listening; next time, I swear, we’ll try to talk more about the good stuff.


0:01-12:04: Greetings!  It’s been a while so we’re a bit rusty—to keep all of us on our toes, Graeme teases us with talk about Substack (which will then go on to infect the rest of the episode like a fungus, as it turns out) but swerves to talk about the superb Defenders #1 by Al Ewing, Javier Rodríguez and Álrvaro López. As the sportscasters would say: “A superb fake-out by McMillan, and the type of professional razzle-dazzle we’ve come to expect from this longtime podcaster!”
12:04-15:06: Ah, but here, mark our descent: Graeme mentions the behind-the-scenes of a comic being more intriguing than the comic itself, and that does lend itself very well to one component of the raft of Substack news from the last few weeks: James Tynion IV leaving Batman to focus on his own comics, particularly those he’ll be publishing through Substack—in particular, Tynion also offering a newsletter where he will talk candidly about his time on Batman.
15:06-33:35: But we’re a bit reluctant to get into talking about the Substack stuff because we’re aware it’s gonna eat up *a lot* of time, and so: Free Comic Book Day! It just happened, which of course Graeme knew and of course Jeff didn’t. It didn’t seem like it was really on people’s radar? And we talk about why. Unsurprisingly, we also talk about COVID, the “new normal”, traveling cross-country and more.
33:35-1:05:41: Back to Substack talk, and finally fully into it. (Jeff is fixated!). Creators moving to the platform are talking about it as a chance to avoid the many pitfalls of the direct market but…just because those pitfalls aren’t there doesn’t mean there aren’t new pitfalls to replace them. [bonus discussion of a rumor about the status of Hickman on X-Men]. From there, we really do talk about the news of creators like Zdarsky, Tynion, HIckman, Ostertag moving to Substack to publish their comics (and in many cases retiring their twitter accounts), the alleged amounts they might being paid to do so, Substack’s earlier semi-hinky history with paying writers, ethical compromise, and much more!
1:05:41-1:13:36: From the cutting edge news of today to the far flung, long ago history of the end of May, Jeff *finally* saw Bo Burnham’s Inside, which he refers to here as “if David Foster Wallace got to write and direct his version of The Muppet Show.” But that’s not the only reason he brings it up! (Maybe.) Jeff thinks Burnham’s comedy special ties in well to the discussion since it is about, among other things, the extreme difficulty of acting ethically as opposed to acting as if one is acting ethically.
1:13:36-1:21:48: And because we cannot escape the sinkhole of Substack, we also talk about this post which was reposted after the news of Tynion and others signing up with them. Fortunately because it took a while for Jeff to hunt up that post and its author, Graeme has a chance to profess his love for Centaurworld and all of us are all the better for it.
1:21:48-1:28:08: Okay, enough with Substack! (or…is it?) But since it’s been weeks & weeks & weeks since we’ve gabbed, we get a chance to finally discuss The Suicide Squad, currently in theaters and on HBO Max.
1:32:57-1:43:30: Us trying to figure out what the other big news story was puts us right back at—yup!—the corner of Tynion and Batman!

1:43:30-1:45:03: Hey, here’s the news story! Big thanks to Douglas Park for pointing it out (and my apologies for being so scattered in trying to retrieve it that I referred to Douglas using the ultra-vague term “someone”)!
1:45:03-2:01:44: Ah, we’ve hit the “Jeff panics we haven’t really talked enough about comics!” point of the podcast! Graeme has been reading and very much enjoying The Dreaming: Waking Hours by G. Willow Wilson and Nick Robles and how it feels like a smart updating that also captures all the best stuff of Gaiman’s Sandman at its height. And Jeff has been reading vol. 201 of Golgo 13, The epic collection Punisher: Return to Big Nothing; the first three volumes of Those Snow White Notes; Sundome!! Milky Way; and a return to the ultra low-key Steaming Sniper by Marley Caribu (pseudonym for the writer of Old Boy!) and Tadashi Matsumori.
2:01:44-2:08:20: And then Jeff started to badmouth Ed Piskor’s Red Room and accidentally unplugged his whole headset, throwing us into tech chaos for several minutes! Instead, Graeme points out it’s darn near closing time, and *also* points out that Marvel Unlimited has added a bunch of issues that he thinks are from Marvel’s upcoming August 1961 Omnibus! Dive in and get your Patsy Walker and Millie the Model stories while you can!
2:08:20-end:  And so….closing Comments! Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.
Next week: Drokk!! Read Judge Dredd: The Complete Casefiles vol. 27 and join us!




0:01-5:40: Greetings!  Jeff is still sick (but getting better)! Graeme is good (despite referring to “the cultural wasteland that is our llives”)! We open with a prophecy of the future—a prophecy that in the near future (August), The Sacred One (Chloe) will return and bring with her the ancient texts as foretold in lore (she and Graeme are gonna talk about all their reality tv watching). PROPHECY!
(But also a little bit of talk between us about Love Island.)
5:40-53:14: Instead of flimmity-flamming about some jimmity jam, we tuck right into talking about comics, recent comics to be more exact, Superman and The Authority #1 by Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, and Jordie Bellaire, to be as exact as we possibly can! It’s a tight, fun first issue with a lot to unpack, especially with what G-Mo might be saying about their own career and/or the career of his contemporaries. We talk about where and how G-Mo might be doing so; about how Morrison plays with or cares about expectations; the reworking from the premise as a 5G book; about how Morrison has written and handled Superman throughout their career; some comparison/contrast between Morrison’s current standing and Tom King’s; dogs barking in the background; and more.
53:14-59:33: We mentioned Tom King and the online reception to his current work, so it seems more than appropriate for Graeme to talk (in a spoiler-free way about the penultimate issue of Strange Adventures as well as the “ambitious strangeness” of Rorschach; and more.
59:33-1:09:45: Jeff wants to keep this comic train rolling! But for some reason, the next station he wants it to pull into is…Skybound X, the weekly anthology book celebrating ten years of Robert Kirkman making people sell him their IP in return for checks? Jeff sees a potential in the anthology, a woulda-shoulda he wants to talk about, as well as mentioning things he came across in the title such as Tillie Walden doing a series of Clementine Walking Dead OGNs, the return of Assassin Nation, and more.
1:09:45-1:30:42: In other news: Jeff has done a reverse-o and is really liking Matthew Rosenberg’s The Joker Presents A Puzzlebox? But more important to those looking for good work available (currently) only digitally, Jeff wants to extol the virtues of Look Back, a 140 page one-shot (which is a helluva way to undersell the term “graphic novel”) by Chainsaw Man creator Tatsuki Fujimoto. It’s currently available to read over at Shonen Jump *for frickin free* and is extremely excellent. Also discussed: Fist of the North Star by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara; the movie Doberman Cop (based on a manga also by Buronson); the Action 2020 special including the full replica of the banned October 1976 issue; Giant-Size Conan the Barbarian #5 reprinting the team-up of Conan and Elric (under a new Kirby cover); and more.
1:30:42-1:42:07: Graeme has been rereading The New Defenders, the Gargoyle/Valkyrie/Angel/Beast/Cloud/Moondragon incarnation of the team installed by writer J.M. DeMatteis at issue #125 and then taken over by Peter B. Gillis shortly thereafter (with Don Perlin on art throughout). It’s an odd book that goes only even more odd under Gillis and one worth discussing and considering in the context of Marvel at that time.
1:42:07-1:53:45: And of a more modern stripe, Graeme has read both the first two issues (released) and the third (not yet) of Infinite Frontier, the Joshua Williamson scripted/Xermanico drawn “event book that’s not an event book” with an interesting cast, an interesting pitch, and may well need a good collection or reading all in a oner to truly be appreciated. Graeme has also been reading Crime Syndicate by Andy Schmidt, Bryan Hitch, and Kieran McKeown and that’s also a thing we chew over for a bit.
1:53:45-end: Closing Comments!  Or…are they? I guess it depends on how you’d characterize Summer of Soul, currently playing over on Hulu. (Graeme would characterize it as “spectacular!”). And but still: 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: Skip week times two! Join us in mid-August for another Wait, What?!

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.