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 →
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, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy 3, originally released August 10th, 2016.
Taylor: It’s the time of year where kids start heading back to school, which means it’s time for me to rise from my summertime hibernation and teach the future leaders of tomorrow. This is always an exciting couple of weeks. It’s when I get to see who has grown over the summer, who’s changed, and basically witness the miracle of organic life. I’m always shocked when a 7th grader shows up and he’s four inches taller from the last time I saw him two months ago. While this is a fun time, it also makes me horribly cognizant of my age. These kids are still growing, while my body has effectively begun its long descent into dust. Born in a different millennium than me, these kids have vastly little worldly experience and I see it as part of my job to pass on what little I know about the world. As Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy 3 agrees, this is an important thing for all elders to do. 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, 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 →
Today, Suzanne and Taylor are discussing Gotham Academy 2, originally released November 5th, 2014
Suzanne: A few years ago, I lost interest in reading literature about teenagers and coming-of-age stories. Maybe I read books like Catcher In the Rye too many times in high school. Or when I hit my mid-twenties, I could finally get up on my soap box about how youth-obsessed American culture can be without feeling (too) hypocritical.
Then Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers shook up my perspective, proving that the right creative team can sell almost any genre. Since then, books like Batgirl and Gotham Academy are (soon to be) mainstays on my pull list. Relationship drama? Impulsive heroes? Hipster fashion? Check. Check. Check. I’m hoping that Gotham Academy can maintain its unique tone without lapsing into a paint-by-numbers romantic drama.