Over the last two years, DC has flung over 60 "number one" issues at readers, each of which were designed to hook readers into reading wave after wave of revamped series and superheroes. Unfortunately, most of these books were bland and uninspired, setting the tone for DC's catalog of mediocre superhero fare. Even DC's best comics, Batman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman, seemed to lack a spark in their debut issues, leaving readers satisfied but not exactly clamoring for more. That's not the case with Superman/Batman, Greg Pak and Jae Lee's new DC title. Superman/Batman #1 is a clinic on what a debut issue should be, fresh, exciting and fast-paced without losing focus on the characters or plot.
Superman/Batman #1 focuses on the two title characters' first meeting, which involves the murder of Wayne Enterprises employees in Metropolis. Pak opens the issue with Kent searching for Wayne in Gotham City, a fish out of water in the dark and grim city. After a brief but poignant meeting between Kent and Wayne, the book shifts to Metropolis for an extended fight scene before ending in a different world all together. Pak's writing is near perfect this issue, mixing fantastic fighting with concise and telling dialogue together for an enjoyable read.
The best part of the issue is how wonderfully the creative team comes together to show the contrast between the two title characters. Pak's dialogue, Jae Lee's brilliant layouts and Jane Chung's gorgeous coloring showcase how the two title characters differ from one another in a variety of ways, especially in the opening pages of the book. My favorite scene involves how Kent and Wayne choose to handle a fight between two children. Whereas Wayne is content with waiting to see how the fight unfolds, Kent rushes in and breaks the fight up, mirroring his actions later in the book.
Another major draw to the series is Jae Lee's fantastic artwork, which graces the first 18 pages of the book. It's easily the best artwork to appear in any DC comic over the last two years, and matches David Aja or Chris Samnee's work on Hawkeye and Daredevil in bringing a dynamic and unique look to the series. Ben Oliver's more grounded artwork fills in for the final six pages, providing a competent compliment to Lee's pages without decreasing the overall quality of the book.
With Superman/Batman, DC may finally have a series to match Marvel's Hawkeye and Daredevil in terms of quality and Eisner Award winning caliber. This is the type of bold, fun and exciting book that DC should have been publishing all along, one that capitalizes on DC's thinned out continuity and pushes a modern style of storytelling. Even those disenchanted with DC's output should give Superman/Batman a try. It's that good of a read.