First, let me get the obligatory weather whine out of the way: It is too frelling hot, temperatures here were well over 33°C, that is in the 90s in F, and while people living in subtropic regions or in continental climates with hot summers probably ought to expect this, I am supposedly in a temperate maritime climate zone here with supposedly cool summers and mild winters -- I didn't sign up for this. And it goes without saying that neither I nor anybody else really (privately) has an A/C. Which from an environmentalist standpoint is a good thing, I mean, whether crazy hot summers like this with record temperatures are the first signs of global warming or not, I definitely don't need to speed along the climate change by energy guzzling devices like A/Cs. I just wish I was living in a better built house and not right under the roof, though, then it would be much less of an issue.
Anyway I'm even more spectacularly unproductive than usual, and right now I keep my apartment door open after frelling one a.m in the night to achieve any cross-ventilation at all to cool my apartment down, now that at least the outdoor temperatures have fallen to something in the mid 20s (°C, i.e. in the 70s °F). It's not that I particularly like my apartment door open in the middle of the night while I'm sitting in front of my computer in my underwear (and I'm sure you didn't care to know that, but I'm cranky and more interesting content will follow below, I swear), and I'll close it once I'll go to bed, but right know having some air movement is the priority.
On a more positive note, this afternoon, when it was hot outside, and quite unbearable inside, I ventured out to get my comic subscriptions, and then spend a pleasant late afternoon sitting outside in the shade reading some of the comics. This week I got Superman/Batman #1, Superman Birthright #2, Arkham Asylum: Living Hell #4, Detective Comics #785, Batman: Death and the Maidens #1, Batman Nevermore #5 (Elseworld), Supreme Power #1, Uncanny X-Men #429, Strangers in Paradise #59, and Paradise Too #14.
Superman Birthright #2 (written by Mark Waid, pencils by Leinil Francis Yu, inks by Gerry Alanguilan)
I really enjoy this series, though as I said last month I suspect Superman purists might not, but I don't care. In a way Birthright reads a bit like Smallville future fic, and I mean that in a good way. Especially with Clark seemingly mooning over both the absent Lana and the absent Lex. I found the choice to give Clark the ability to see some sort of aura of living beings unusual (well some aura of humans and animals at least, I guess if it extended to plants he wouldn't have turned vegetarian but stuck just with sunlight), but then for all I know the regular Superman might be able to do that too. I liked to see how Clark feels isolated, and tries to figure out his (and his planet's) history and do right by that, as well as by his own and his parents' ideals. Also I like his parents here, giving Martha UFO tracking as a hobby was definitely a nice touch.
Superman/Batman #1 (written by Jeph Loeb, pencils by Ed McGuinness, inks by Dexter Vines)
I'm not too enthusiastic about the art, it's somehow, not exactly cartoony, but something about it just rubs me the wrong way. The style is a bit in the same vein as McDaniel's (which I also don't like much), but less distinct and dynamic. However the art is neither bad, annoying nor distracting from the story, so overall I was okay with it. And I really like the story so far, I think as an opening the issue is quite intriguing. And that despite my usual cluelessness about the DCU. For example I've never read anything with Metallo (the villain) in it, and I'm not sure whether he's a recurring character or a new addition, but I like that he doesn't seem to see himself as the bad guy or opposes them just to be a supervillain, but has some sort of motive. Yeah, it involves a mad scientist, a botched experiment, some sort of brain transfer and the urge for revenge, but hey, it's a superhero comic, and it's not like there isn't potential in that kind of setup, a fair number of rather cool villains have a basis like that. Also I thought the metal transformations he could do were rather neat, I mean it's the first time I've seen a supervillain use his arm transformed into an excavator shovel to bury the heroes. Maybe that's totally common, but then I haven't been reading superhero comics regularly for long, so these kinds of things can still surprise me. Also I have no clue who/what the superheroes with Lex at the end were. I see 'rith's point about Lex Luthor's overexposure, though.
I thought the way the Batman and Superman POVs were intercut to contrast the two heroes was a bit heavy handed as a technique, especially during the opening sequence, but it worked (even if it felt a bit like being hit over the head by a 2x4), and I liked the characterizations and POVs and their contrast themselves a lot.
Supreme Power #1 (written by JMS, pencils by Gary Frank, inks by John Sibal)
I have never heard of the original Squadron Supreme, and I haven't yet read the reprints of two stories that are included in the special edition of this issue I got, either. So I'm clueless about that. The premise itself isn't very original, think Superman's origin but with the twist that the farmer couple didn't get to keep the alien "baby", instead it's raised by a couple chosen by the government in a sort of smaller scale The Truman Show setting, just that's not the reality tv audience watching, but bored government employees. Well not so bored when the baby incinerated Spot the growling puppy to a spot (not my bad pun). Anyway, it doesn't matter that it's not the most original premise, JMS knows how to write and to build suspense and characters that make me want to get to know them better, so the opening issue definitely has me hooked. And the art is really good too.
I could have done without the image of president George Bush Sr. imagining a female scientist in dominatrix gear (even if this is a side effect of enhanced neural activity because of an alien artifact), and that he then, after the artifact's effect wore off, thought about Barbara Bush in that outfit, albeit without a picture, did not make things better. Ick. Just ick. It's not a squick I wanted to discover. At least for once I agree with the US rating that this comic book deserves a content warning.
More on the other comics later, probably.