Not every comic book has a splash page (not to be confused with the website term), just as not every comic has its prominent features, such as a story title or dual title (given that some books intimate a different title on the cover), credits and 'establishing shot'. It differs from the cover because, while dramatic and eye-catching, it is still the beginning of that part of the story, rather than an attempt to encapsulate the contents or show the protagonist in the most perilous position.
The fact that those in charge have sometimes pressured the creative team to show parts of the story before they are due to appear is a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of the splash page. It should draw you in but in 'Now read on' manner.
Despite its nebulous status, the splash page can be an ideal chance for the writer, penciller, inker, letterer and colourist to show off their work and for the editor and publisher to check that it fits.
The splash page can take you straight in to the thick of the action or give the reader a reminder as to whose this book is. Whether you get a shot of the hero or heroine on the first page depends on what kind of book it is.
The other main thing to note about splash pages is that they seem to be an American concept; looking at other comic books, there is no substantial difference between the layout of the first page and other pages in the book.