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. Continue reading →
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.
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.
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.
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, 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 →
Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 46, originally released Dec 16th, 2015.
Mark: Has anyone been reading DC’s (relatively) new Doctor Fate ongoing? The pitch for it was probably a lot like Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher’s pitch for Batgirl: take a character struggling to find a compelling place in the post-Flashpoint universe (apologies to Gail Simone), and make them balance the typical problems of 20-somethings with the life of a superhero. There are countless problems with Doctor Fate, but one of the major failings is its inability to balance the various threats complicating Khalid Nassour’s life. Everything is treated with equal weight (which in this case is usually none at all), which makes the confrontations and resolutions ultimately unsatisfying. 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 Spencer are discussing Batgirl 44, originally released September 23rd, 2015.
Ryan: When we’re children, it is clear to whom we owe obedience. We must do what our parents, teachers, coaches, pastors tell us. Part of growing up is learning to choose who deserves that kind of subservience. Certainly, in adult relationships a certain amount of respect is shown by listening and acting in accordance with someone else’s wants. But what about those in our adult lives who request blind and total acquiescence? Should we bend to their whims and deny our own? Also, what kind of person would expect us to? The Velvet Tiger and Batgirl don’t have much in common, but they both have an expectation of obedience. They are each in a leadership position and expect their employees to curb their own ambitions and curtail their own desires. The Velvet Tiger is looking for fealty and unwavering loyalty, while Batgirl’s exerts her authority in a paternalistic effort of protection. Continue reading →