Hosted by Kris Bather and Mladen Luketin from Western Australia, ES is a weekly podcast filled with news, reviews and pop culture shenanigans. Kris (loyal superhero fan) and Mladen (manga, anime and indie defender) chat about their varying, and occasional overlapping, interests in the wonderful world of sequential art.

Starting With Superheroes

Of the wide variety of comics available each week, those starring superheroes can be the most confusing. Here’s our recommendations for recent releases for the new superhero fan.

Superman/Batman #54

superman-batman_54This issue is part 2 of the Super/Bat storyline, but reading last month’s issue isn’t necessary. All you need to know is this; Superman and Batman have switched powers, thanks to the supernatural power of baddie Silver Banshee. So, now, Batman (Bruce Wayne) has abilities such as flight and super strength, while Superman (Clark Kent) has no powers at all. This issue opens with the Last Son of Krypton teaching the Dark Knight how to use his new powers, with great descriptions by writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson. Batman takes to his new array of abilities well, with good coaching from Superman in his Fortress of Solitude, when their Justice League team-mate, magician Zatanna shows up. Zatanna (who wields her magic by speaking spells backwards) informs the duo that she’s found no trace of the Banshee. Batman seems to welcome his strange super powers and continues his crime fighting mission with such gusto that he leaves Robin (Tim Drake) behind in the Batcave as he’ll only slow him down. He then flies off into the night to clean up every inch of Gotham once and for all, something he’s never been able to achieve before. Meanwhile, Clark discusses his missing powers with his wife Lois Lane on the rooftop of their workplace, the Daily Planet. He still wears his costume under his business attire and feels his flight missing, like a phantom limb. Batman’s scary reputation grows in Gotham’s criminal underworld as he appears to be everywhere at once, and when he meets Commissioner James Gordon near the Batsignal, the head cop notes that it’s the first night they haven’t received a 911 call. Bats hears that the drug Venom is back on the streets in a stronger form and gatecrashes Bane’s castle in the Caribbean. Bane is the masked villain who used Venom to literally break Batman’s back in the awesome 1993-94 saga, Knighfall, which temporarily left Bruce Wayne a cripple. Now Batman is in the position of truly being stronger than his vicious enemy and seeks revenge. This ish ends with Clark and Lois strolling in Metropolis when a mugger shoots Clark in the stomach, leaving him bleeding in an alley, while Batman is in space gazing at the earth, crying with the new gifts given him, believing that he can finally save everyone. With Clark at death’s door and Batman going power mad, this story arc is heading for a dramatic showdown. The art by penciller Rags Morales (known for his work on 2004’s emotional mini-series Identity Crisis) is as realistic and dynamic as ever. Pretty much everyone on the planet knows who the titular characters are, and this title has always presented tight, action-packed storylines that operate outside of the confusion often inherent in the bigger picture of the DC Comics Universe. Download a preview of this ish here.

Green Arrow and Black Canary #15Sticking with DC Comics for a while, you might also like to check out the publisher’s other two-hero title. Green Arrow and Black Canary are two street level heroes, and newlyweds to boot! Green Arrow is an expert archer while Black Canary is a great martial artist and the current Chairwoman of the Justice League. She can also unleash a mean supersonic Canary Cry when she needs to, which is kinda like a sonic boom. This week’s issue 15 is a good place to start for newbies. With a new direction, after an earlier light hearted tone up to this point, this issue sees Canary at the hands of a villain in an alley while Arrow stares him down with an arrow poised at his jugular. It recaps Arrow’s origin fairly well, though with minimal detail, and ends with some disastrous results after the unleashing of Canary’s sonic scream. Download a sneak peek here.

DC Universe Holiday SpecialThe DC Universe Holiday Special is a nice intro in to some of the most popular heroes in the DC Comics world, and is made up of short stories by a host of talented writers and artist; all with wildly different styles. A look at a classic Aquaman tale, a night without crime in Gotham, a crook whose family has had run-ins with the three different Blue Beetles over the decades, and a night out with the Teen Titans (Robin, Wonder Girl, etc) in civvies are the best stories in this compilation. All the 10 tales in this hefty special have a nice Christmas theme to them, and some superb art. This would make a great stocking stuffer for the comics newbie in your house, and you can even download a preview here.

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