Last Wednesday, Judge and I ventured to Midtown Comics in New York City for a signing by writer Greg Pak. That day, Pak’s newest venture, Batman/Superman #1, went on sale. It was great to meet Pak and, given this comic also features art from the amazing Jae Lee, I eagerly anticipated cracking the book open and reading about two of my favorite comic book heroes. Did this issue live up to the legacy of its talented creators?
Batman/Superman #1 is the story of the first meeting between Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne in the New 52. Set some years prior to the present day, we find Clark Kent in Gotham to ask Bruce Wayne for information about the murder of some Wayne Enterprises employees in Metropolis. The two get off to a rocky start as their ideologies clash concerning a brawl between two young boys. Later, in their superhero guises, the two come face to face in Metropolis where a battle ensues. What will happen when the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight Detective clash for the first time? Can these two put aside their differences to solve an even bigger mystery unfolding before them?
When I heard this issue would be set in the past, I was initially skeptical. Justice League #1 implied that Batman had never met Superman before, but Pak assured readers in prior interviews that this discrepancy would be explained. I honestly forgot this was even a problem as I read through the issue, focusing more on just how well Pak made these two heroes play off one another. His work on their internal monologues was great, and worked especially well for communicating that these are younger, brasher, inexperienced versions of the Superman and Batman we know and love. Pak also sets up a story arc that promises an interesting mystery, and I’m already eager to see the next phase of the story.
I was also skeptical upon hearing Jae Lee was chosen as the primary artist for Batman/Superman. While I’d seen Lee’s amazing artwork before in Marvel’s The Dark Tower series, I didn’t feel like he’d be a good fit for Superman. Lee’s style is dark, gloomy, and highly stylized, which seemed like a perfect match for Batman, but I was unsure how this would translate to the Kryptonian hero. Luckily, my fear was unfounded and Lee proved that he can draw an amazing and interesting Superman. The art is, overall, really good and far different from anything I’ve seen in most mainstream comics. The fight scenes are especially fun and frenetic, showcasing these rougher-around-the-edges heroes. And, while I did not know this before buying the issue, Ben Oliver drew the final five pages which are quite good as well and, despite a different style, transition from Lee’s work surprisingly well.
Despite an awesome creative team, Batman/Superman #1 still has a number of shortcomings. One gripe is the pricing versus page count: the issue costs $3.99 (US) which usually equates to 30 pages of story for a DC comic. This issue, however, only contained 25 pages and I feel the extra 5 pages would’ve been better not only from a financial standpoint, but also to set the plot up a little more. It’s hard to fully fault DC for this, since both Marvel and Valiant release comics of about 20 pages for $3.99, so perhaps this is going to become the industry standard before long. Furthermore, while I like Ben Oliver art, the fight scene he drew at the end was somewhat hard to follow, and without the internal monologue Pak wrote for Superman I wouldn’t have even realized a few things happened.
Batman/Superman #1 is a good comic, and great way to kick off a new series starring DC’s most popular heroes. It’s not what you’d expect from a typical story involving the Caped Crusader and Last Son of Krypton, and that makes it all the more appealing. Though it’s not perfect, it definitely delivers on the promise of a great comic.
-great portrayal of a younger Batman and Superman
-amazing art that’s unlike most mainstream superhero fair, but still fits the story very well
-great set-up for an epic story
-fewer pages than a standard $3.99 comic from DC
-Ben Oliver’s battle scenes hard to follow
Brett Simon is a twenty-three year old comic enthusiast. He likes that this issue showed, as everyone should admit, Superman would own Batman in combat.
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