Echos of Grief Reverberate in Isola 3

By Mark Mitchell

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

We don’t know exactly what transpired between Rook and Queen Olwyn that led them to their current paths, but Isola 3 continues to deepen their connection even as the two are further separated by physical distance. Continue reading

A Journey Through Color in Isola 2

By Spencer Irwin

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

Using color to differentiate settings and characters is not new — even television shows such as Heroes or The Defenders have done it — but I’m still amazed by how well Isola uses the technique. It helps that Msassyk’s colors (combined with Karl Kerschl’s crisp, animation-worthy artwork) are so jaw-droppingly gorgeous — they’d take readers on an immersive journey by that merit alone — yet Msassyk takes things to the next level by constantly varying palettes throughout the issue, shifting his color schemes to indicate new locations, introduce new characters (or bring back old ones), and even just show the passing of time. By the end of the issue things look completely different from the outset, making readers feel like they’ve truly taken a journey with Rook and Olwyn, truly spent a night making their way through this lush fantasy world with them. Continue reading

Isola 1: Discussion

By Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney

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

Spencer: The older I get, the more I realize how vital communication is to just about every single facet of life. So many problems and conflicts, be they in business or our personal lives, are caused by simple miscommunications, and the inability to communicate with someone makes it almost impossible to do anything with them or have any sort of meaningful relationship. Communication is a central theme of Isola, the new Image series from former Gotham Academy collaborators Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, and Msassyk. Not only does Isola 1 explore the difficulties that arise when two parties are unable to communicate, but the methods the creative team use to communicate information with the readers are second-to-none. This is one smartly-told comic book. Continue reading

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

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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Motor Crush 1

motor-crush-1

Today, Drew and Ryan M. are discussing Motor Crush 1, originally released December 7th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: I’ve been thinking a lot recently about story structure, and particularly Dan Harmon’s distillation of the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell’s monomyth was designed to be as general as possible, so that it might be applied universally, but Harmon takes it a step further, stripping away specifics like “the belly of the beast” and “death and resurrection” to land on an ordered set of eight words: You, Need, Go, Search, Find, Take, Return, and CHANGE. Harmon explains all of those in greater depth, but for the purposes of this discussion, I’m interested in the first two: you (establishing a protagonist in a zone of comfort) and need (establishing a need for the character that might draw them outside of that zone of comfort). I’m used to that opening quadrant of the “story circle” — the quadrant that ends when the character leaves their zone of comfort — being relatively small, moving on to the meat of the journey quickly. That’s definitely the case with Motor Crush 1, which pushes its protagonist out of her comfort zone so quickly, I’m honestly not sure what “normal” looks like for her. Continue reading

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