Time to dip into the DC Trinity for the first time, with a look at this month’s Batman #43, part three of the Superheavy story which introduced a new man in the Batman suit, a new Batman suit (or two), a new version of Bruce Wayne, and a new Batman villain in the form of Mr Bloom. So there’s a LOT going on here, including a great deal of back story to get caught up on. The last couple of times we delved into the DC Universe we didn’t have such a good time. Will things be better as we get to grips with the acclaimed Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo run?

And almost as importantly, what will Bex select as her Top Three/Worst One Ever superhero origins?

Let’s get this right out there up front: this one’s marked explicit for both subject matter and language. The first volume of Sunstone from Top Cow/Image is on one level a romance comic, but on a completely different level it’s a story about a BDSM relationship with quite a lot of graphic nudity. This one challenges us, particularly the male participants (and yes, we nearly typed ‘members’ there… there’s a lot of struggling with language here) in a number of ways – how do we feel about what we’re seeing? Are there limits to what seems appropriate for certain types of creator to create? Can we objectively assess the objectified? And what are we to make of the industry when we consider this comic?

One of those discussions where the basic question of “is it any good?” takes a back seat to a lot of others. Like “How many euphemisms for women’s genitalia can Bex come up with?”

In comic book terms, there are few characters (and certainly few non-superhero characters) more iconic than Archie Andrews, so the launch of a brand new Archie #1 seems like a suitable occasion for us to mark. This first issue also includes a reprint of the very first Archie short story, which is… different. So how does this relaunch by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples measure up to the Archies of Jared’s youth? Back in show 3 we looked at the new horror version of Sabrina, which showed a different version of the Archie universe – how well or badly does a relatively traditional take play?

And in the return of Top Three/Worst One Ever, Jared takes us through his Top Three (actually Five) Enduring Comicbook Romances. It’s safe to say we don’t all agree with his choices.

Also: don’t forget to vote for the kind of comics you’d like to hear us talk about at onecomicpodcast.com.

It’s a relatively short show this time as we visit the closest planet to the sun for some crime action in issue one of Mercury Heat, from the creative team of Kieron Gillen and Omar Francia. A closed environment, a fish-out-of-water female lead, the strictures of a future society in which roles are determined for its citizens and some types are less welcome than others and a suspicious death; these are the ingredients Gillen mixes into this set-up issue. What did we make of it?

No ‘Top Three/Worst One Ever’ this time, but it’ll be back in our next show.

Or feel free to suggest comics you’d like us to cover in the comments (which have an anti-spam filter, so they won’t show up immediately).

Famed comics writer Gail Simone has been writing Red Sonja’s exploits for Dynamite for a while now, so we wanted to see how a well-regarded writer took on a character whose portrayal over the years has frequently been… let’s just say “not exactly feminist”. This issue, a chapter of an ongoing ‘quest’ storyline, served as an intro to the current run for two of the team, so how did it stand up as an entry point, as a piece of fantasy storytelling, as a comic book, and as a woman-led title?

And for this show’s Top Three and Worst One Ever, Bex takes a look at madness in comics, trying to work out what it takes to make mental illness (or what comics tend to deliver when they try for it) work in comics, and why it’s so hard to get right.

Regular updates available via the feeds links on the right.

Around a year into Dan Slott, Mike Allred and Laura Allred’s run on Silver Surfer, they produced an issue in an completely original format, telling a time looping story in a uniquely looping manner. This is the One Comic of that issue, last month’s Silver Surfer 11. What did the team make of the story, the structure, the relationship between the Surfer and his new(ish) companion Dawn Greenwood, and the inexplicably French space pirates? Listen and find out.

Also, apropos of nothing, Jon takes a look at ‘Replacement Heroes’ in the regular Top Three and Worst One Ever feature. Who made the cut, and who failed to make the best of the mantle they took up?

Listen below, get the feed on the right, and please tell us what you think of the show.

The first issue of a new Alan Moore/Jacen Burrows collaboration, Providence#1 is the story of a young journalist in the big city. As we dig into an early-twentieth century world of creepy doctors, clandestine relationships, madness-inducing books and … exit gardens, we consider the importance of a creator’s reputation in committing to a series, and the fit between story and pictures.

And in keeping with the theme, Jared takes a look at the best and worst of Lovecraft-inspired comics. It’s a weird world out there.

Crossovers don’t get much bigger than this. The Marvel multiverse faces destruction and the only two Earths left are too busy fighting each other to do anything about it.  It’s kill or be killed for both the main and Ultimate universes and frankly, it’s not looking good for anyone. We delve into the first issue of Marvel’s biggest ever crossover, Secret Wars, by Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina to see how it holds up and the start of the crossover and the end of the enormous grand plan that Hickman has been weaving through the Marvel Universe for years now.

And to round the show up, Jared takes a turn at sharing a Top Three and Worst One Ever – his chosen topic: Spider Costumes. And there are a lot for him to choose from.

Who’s up for an outing? No, not a trip to the coast, an enforced confrontation with one’s own denied sexual orientation. No? Doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time? Well imagine how you’d feel if you were Iceman; just back from a tour of the universe, happily perving over one of your teachers, then POW, in comes Jean “I’m psychic” Grey to burst your bubble of macho posturing and over-compensation by telling you “I know”. There’s a lot to unpack here, not least the complications added to the situation by telepathy, time travel and the adult Iceman’s diabolical dating record. Fun.

Also, the first outing (see what we did there?) for a new feature: Top Three and Worst One Ever – in which Jon selects the best and worst X-Men spin-offs. And not to paint him as too tragic a case, he’s pretty much read all the candidates.

As always, listen here or get it on your podcast feeds via the links on the right.