Discussion: Gotham Academy Second Semester 12

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Gotham Academy: Second Semester 8, originally released April 12th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: I recently just moved away from Chicago — a city which I called home for nearly 10 years. The move is bittersweet; I had been talking about moving for quite some time and was more than excited to finally make my escape from the Windy City. However, now that I’m gone, I’m finding I miss the place even though it often frustrated me. I think this boils down to the fact that despite its flaws, Chicago was my home for so long and that bred a certain respect, if not love, for the city. Gotham Academy has explored this same relationship between the individual and the city in surprisingly deep ways, and the series finale doubles down on this theme, reminding me that the place you call home is the place where you feel loved. Continue reading

Becoming a Hero in Gotham Academy: Second Semester 11

by Drew Baumgartner

Gotham Academy Second Semester 11

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I think it’s safe to say Maps Mizoguchi is the breakout character of Gotham Academy. Her enthusiasm for adventuring is infectious, and often positions her as a kind of audience surrogate. Plus, she runs circles around the rest of the Detective Club in terms of actual detective skills. In many ways, she’s the Hermione Granger of Gotham Academy, skilled beyond her classmates in just about every way that matters. But she’s not quite Hermione Granger. Importantly, while she may outpace her friends on the detective front, her relative youth means that she’s not quite as emotionally mature. It’s a detail that hasn’t come into play much thus far, but issue 11 reveals that it might just be Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, and Karl Kerschl’s smartest piece of groundwork. Continue reading

Gotham City Is a Character in Gotham Academy: Second Semester 10

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Gotham Academy originally started as a school drama set against the backdrop of Gotham City. However, things have changed greatly since the series first started. Instead of being merely the setting for the series, Gotham City has now become a major character in the series. As with all characters, this means the city is now being developed, and the way it interacts and influences other characters is being analyzed. In Gotham Academy: Second Semester 10 it’s revealed how the city has affected its main character, Olive. Continue reading

Gotham Academy: Second Semester 8

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Gotham Academy: Second Semester 8, originally released April 12th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: The history of a place has a weird way of informing its present. Take the city of Chicago, for example: well known for gangsters and crime in the roaring ’20s, Chicago is well-known these days for an epidemic of gang related violence. On the flip side, New York was a bastion for immigrants early in its history and that holds true today in the modern era of xenophobia. While not all locations are tied to their past in such apparent ways, history has a curious way of making itself known in the present. Such is true in Second Semester 8, when the ghosts of Gotham’s past, both figurative and literal, collude to threaten the city once more.
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Gotham Academy: Second Semester 5

gotham-academy-2-semester-5

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Gotham Academy: Second Semester 5, originally released January 11th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: Recently, a friend suggested I watch the Sci-Fi series The Magicians. Like Gotham Academy, it’s about a group of students at a strange school who must deal with the mysterious and dangerous quirks of their institution. As I watched the first two episodes, because that was all I could stomach, it was surprising how little the show did to introduce me to its main characters, let alone make me sympathize with them. Gotham Academy, on the other hand, goes to great lengths to develop its characters because, at heart, that is the engine that makes the series go. But in Second Semester 5, this trademark character development goes out the window and with it so does the magic of the series, making it look more like The Magicians than any good comic would want.

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Gotham Academy: Second Semester 3

gotham-academy-2-semester-3

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Gotham Academy: Second Semester 3, originally released September 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: Contained mystery stories tend to follow fairly predictable patterns. Details are introduced in the first 90% of the story that pay off in the final moments. Sure, there are some red herrings tossed in there, and the rise of noir fiction make the detective’s character as crucial to the story as the mystery itself, but generally, clues lead to pay-off. Being a serialized mystery series, Gotham Academy Second Semester doesn’t have to play by this formula as rigidly as a one-off story would, so even as we’re approaching the end of the first story arc of the semester, the pay-offs are starting to look like clues in their own right. Add to that a whole host of interesting detectives, and this is starting to look like some of the most compelling mysteries on the shelf.

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Gotham Academy: Second Semester 1

gotham-academy-2-semester-1

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Gotham Academy: Second Semester 1, originally released September 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: During the spring of my senior year of college I went nowhere for spring break. I don’t mean this as a metaphor in any way, I didn’t even head home for the week long reprieve from school. While that probably sounds boring, I remember that particular break with fondness. I’ve always been somewhat of an introvert and the time alone was welcome after the constant socializing that is college life. Still, it was weird to see my campus, so usually full of people, empty and devoid of life. Everything seemed at once the same yet different and changed. Remembering this experience, I don’t blame Olive for feeling lonely while spending the holidays alone at Gotham Academy in the first issue of Second Semester. This becomes even more true when I consider just how weird and mysterious Gotham Academy can be, unlike my own university.

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Gotham Academy Annual 1

gotham academy annual 1

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

Punisher 1

Alternating Currents: Punisher 1, Drew and Shelby

Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Punisher 1, originally released May 4th, 2016.

Drew: The intro copy of Punisher 1 reminds us that “Frank Castle died with his family. Now there is only… The Punisher.” It’s a classic premise for a comic series — one that has been used long before and long after the Punisher’s debut (The Spirit and Spawn spring immediately to mind) — but not one that makes for the most compelling central character. Writer Becky Cloonan embraces the vaccuum of Frank’s personality, treating him in this issue more as a rarely-seen force of nature than a human being with real emotions. The result is something closer to Jaws than Kill Bill, but distancing us from Castle forces us to see his actions as truly monstrous, creating a much more unstable lead than could be achieved with a more empathetic approach. Continue reading

Gotham Academy 12

gotham academy 12

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