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

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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

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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

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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

Batgirl 52

batgirl 52

Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Batgirl 52, originally released May 25th, 2016.

Mark: What is the best way to portray a female superhero?

Batgirl 52

The first sizzle reel revealed for CBS’s (now CW’s) Supergirl television series was met with a healthy dose of skepticism and derision since it included a number of moments where Kara is shown doing stereotypical “girlie” things and its The Devil Wears Prada-esque setting. Some compared it to SNL’s satirical trailer for a Marvel Black Widow movie that aired just a little bit before the Supergirl first look was released. The fact that Kara worried about boys at all or worked at a fashion magazine meant that she wasn’t a strong female character. I haven’t watched Supergirl at all outside of the pilot, but the general consensus of her portrayal now that the first season has concluded seems to be overall positive.

Likewise, Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart’s Batgirl of Burnside, making Barbara Gordon more pop and significantly less intense than the Gail Simone run that preceded it, has been met with similar criticism. I’m not a woman, but I am gay and it is through that lens that I approach the desire for people like me to be represented in media by strong characters. In that way, I can understand the eye-rolling at a social media obsessed Batgirl just like I sometimes get annoyed at what I perceive as grossly flamboyant gay characters in movies and TV shows. Continue reading

Gotham Academy 17

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

Batgirl 50

batgirl 50

Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 50, originally released April 6th, 2016.

Mark: Batgirl 50 is the culmination of the Fugue storyline, and Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart successfully check the box on every superhero trope a reader could want. Mind control? Check. A bank robbery? Check. Previously unmentioned deus ex machina device? A big, fat pneumatic tube-shaped check! The Fugue has released all of Batgirl’s previous foes and is using them to set up mind control devices to lure Burnside’s citizens to Burnside Bridge. Then he’s going to blow up the bridge, killing the citizens, and then convince the rest of Gotham that Batgirl is responsible. This is not a good plan! Continue reading