Batman/Superman #1 establishes the Clark/Bruce relationship quite well, and promises an interesting examination of their friendship. While the book accomplishes this, and sports absolutely stunning artwork, the voices of the titular characters feel slightly off at times, before the issue is spun into a jarring twist.
It’s clear with his debut issue that Pak “gets” the dynamic between Clark and Bruce. He makes a wise choice in having the two characters meet while sporting their alter ago, civilian forms, to emphasize how the two have the ability to permeate each other’s shells.
In this intrductory scene, the best part of the issue, we see Bruce play his drunken/Playboy self, and get to witness Clark in the most clean-cut farmboy manner, calling Bruce “street smart.” I can only hope this was Pak making a reference to Christopher Reeve in the 1987 film “Street Smart.”
While the narration is fitting for the two characters in the exposition, as well as in battle, things feel a little off when Bruce reacts with “whoa” in the introduction and Superman uses the phrase “cool as a cucumber” later in the issue. These phrases/vocabulary choices seem like an attempt to de-age the two, while they could have benefitted more from personality differences, i.e., more arrogant, than dialogue changes, to associate them with their youthful selves.
The greatest attractor of this issue is Jae Lee’s artwork, which can only be described as visual poetry. From the moody Gotham City landscape to the eerie park and the title page, Lee creates symmetry and evokes the emotions that are associated with Superman and Batman. On the first page, Lee makes the reader feel the same discomfort Clark has when he walks uncomfortably through Gotham City.
It is when the art style changes in the last quarter of the issue, that the story goes a little off the rails. The pacing becomes off, and while I’m sure it will feel less harsh in the context of the greater story, this issue, or arc for that matter, seems as though it would be served better grounded to establish the two leads’ relationships further, rather than adding an alternate-time twist. But who knows, maybe the shift will bring out the timelessness of Clark and Bruce’s dynamic.
While there are questionable scripting moments, in Batman/Superman #1, overall it is a solid debut issue that successfully captures the friendship between Clark and Bruce, through their well-written personalities and the evocative visuals.