Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Gotham Academy Annual 1, originally released August 31st, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: The first few arcs of Gotham Academy were very clearly telling a story about Olive Silverlocke. That’s not to say that the rest of the cast (especially Maps) didn’t have personality or important roles, just that they were very much supporting characters to Olive’s story. That’s what made the transition to the “Yearbook” storyline so jarring to me; without warning, what had been one long story focused on Olive suddenly shifted to a series of short stories starring an ensemble cast. I love Gotham Academy‘s cast and enjoyed quite a few of “Yearbook’s” tales, but for my money, Gotham Academy Annual 1 is the first time the supporting characters have felt like they could support a story on their own. Brenden Fletcher and returning co-writer/creator Becky Cloonan achieve this by first highlighting how the Detective Club falls apart without Olive’s leadership, and then by bringing them together to achieve victory on their own. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan M. and Spencer are discussing Gotham Academy 17, originally released April 13th, 2016.
Ryan M.: I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this. It’s a black mark on whatever music-listening cred I have, but this is a safe forum, right? Here is my dark secret: I really like “best of” albums. It’s a single place to hear the breadth of a band’s sound. My first Violent Femmes album is Add it Up and the only full Talking Heads album I own is a two-disc compilation. Greatest hits or Best Of compilations function like those Best American anthologies that flood Barnes and Noble every Christmas. While I don’t like the idea of having someone else curate my experience, it is great to know that you are going to get the best of what a band has to offer. It’s like a one-band mix-tape (another thing I love, though I am a few degrees less-embarrassed to admit it). Gotham Academy’s “Yearbook” storyline on has used an anthology format to offer a taste of the varied elements that make the series so great. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Gotham Academy 16, originally released March 9th, 2016.
Michael: What is the proper way for a comic book series to say goodbye? Depending on the critical and commercial success of that book, the answer may vary. You might have the fore-sight or -knowledge to plot things towards a conclusion or just have to wrap things up as quickly as possible with a few issues. Though DC’s Rebirth will be bringing us another Gotham Academy series — Gotham Academy: Next Semester — these are the last few issues of the series as we have known it. Brenden Fletcher is joined by a handful of other creators to relish in the whimsical nature of Gotham Academy before he says his (brief?) goodbye. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Gotham Academy 12, originally released December 2, 2015.
Spencer: I spend a lot of time talking about empathy on this site, but only because I believe that developing empathy is one of the single most important things people can do to help create a better world. Working to understand people and care about their feelings can avert catastrophes both big and small, while ignoring the viewpoints of others can turn even the most harmless endeavor dangerous. Case-in-point: Professor Strange. All ol’ Hugo wants to do is learn about Calamity, but his lack of compassion for the actual people hurt by Calamity means that even his simple quest for knowledge has the potential to ruin lives. It may have already ruined Olive’s. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing Gotham Academy 11, originally released September 9, 2015.
Ryan M.: The idea that genetics are destiny can be disturbing. We all want to believe, especially when we’re teenagers, that we can control our fates. That the choices of our parents need not define us, that our lives are more than what we were born to. For me, that meant looking at my Mom’s gray hair at 30, my Dad’s loud laugh or an off-hand racist comment by a relative and saying to myself “that’s not going to be me.” I got to thirty without any silver but can’t control my guffaws, so two out of three isn’t bad. In Gotham Academy 11, Olive is facing a much darker familial legacy and no one seems confident that she will escape it.
Today, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing Gotham Academy 10, originally released September 9, 2015.
Ryan: As the daughter of a high school teacher, I grew up seeing a lot of teens preforming Shakespeare. My dad wanted to support his students and I wanted to see people in costumes; it was a win-win. I saw a dozen of these amateur auditorium productions before I ever saw a professional one. When I was little, I didn’t always understand the language of the scene, and I certainly wasn’t grasping the deeper themes. What I was enthralled by, other than those fun costumes, was wondering about the actors. Were they friends in class? Were there romances? Which ones were nerds or cool kids? Because, while I didn’t always get Shakespeare, I watched a lot of Saved by the Bell. In this issue of Gotham Academy, there is a lot happening behind the scenes, but it is even more spooky than the time Zack and the gang went to the murder mystery house.
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Gotham Academy 7, originally released June 10th, 2015.
Aren’t you two just the most precious, holding hands like that?!
Drew: There are few experiences in life more alien than navigating your first crush. Fairytales and Disney movies insure that we’re all familiar with the idea of romance long before we ever feel those feelings ourselves, which makes them all the more bizarre when they start happening. With so much of childhood filled with understanding our emotions, it’s almost cruel that we’re thrown a totally new one just as we enter the most awkward stage of our lives. Indeed, that we don’t know how to process those feelings is exactly we tend to be so bad about acting on them, pulling pigtails or standing sheepishly at the middle school dance. It takes a while for kids to gain the confidence to push past that awkward confusion. Unless, of course, you’re Maps Mizoguchi, in which case a magic quill will take care of that for you. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Gotham Academy Endgame 1, originally released April 1st, 2015.
Drew: Ah, the framing story. What else provides such instant meta-text? It’s what turns The Princess Bride into a story about bedtime stories, or Don Quixote into a story about adventure stories. Of course, it also adds a layer of distance, reminding us that we’re consuming a story, just in case we might have forgotten. At its most cynical, that distance can provide plausible deniability of the events of the story (like so many hand-waving sitcom episodes based on A Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life), but at its most sincere, it allows a single narrative to celebrate the act of storytelling. In the case of Gotham Academy Endgame 1, it also allows for stories that otherwise wouldn’t fit in the narrative, revealing the depth and breadth to the world of the series while also showcasing some fantastic talent. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Gotham Academy 5, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Spencer: It’s not easy figuring out how and when to reveal key plot points and answer pressing questions when constructing a narrative. Some stories get so caught up hyping big mysteries that the solutions can’t live up to the audience’s expectations — others lose their inertia by revealing all too early. Thus far, I’ve been quite impressed by how Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher have handled their mysteries in Gotham Academy. Issue 5 is full of big reveals, balanced expertly by Cloonan and Fletcher, which fill in many of the blanks about Olive’s lost summer and Tristan’s identity. This new information expands the world of Gotham Academy and helps flesh out the cast, both individually and as a unit, while avoiding the pitfalls I listed at the outset of this article. Plus, it’s loads of fun. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Suzanne are discussing Gotham Academy 4, originally released January 28th, 2015.
Spencer: Every property handles the supernatural a little differently. Some reject supernatural elements entirely while others use them as their primary concept; shows like Scooby Doo or Doctor Who regularly tease the supernatural before inevitably revealing them to be hoaxes or extraterrestrial in nature, while at DC Comics the supernatural is a well-known, accepted part of the universe, but one that rarely takes center stage. This is particularly true in Gotham City, so I always kinda assumed that the supernatural elements in Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl’s Gotham Academy would turn out to be hoaxes; two different reveals in issue four prove me right, but what I appreciate about these reveals is how they both help to expand and develop the world of Gotham Academy in drastically different, but equally effective ways. Continue reading →