Gotham Academy #1 (Comics Review)

October is going to be a really huge month this year. Aside from all the new comics that DC is launching this month, there are also big status quo changes in various books, such as over in Batgirl where there is a new creative team and a brand-new arc that is almost like a soft reboot of the title. Back around in June/July, DC announced a bunch of new titles when the details of Future’s End month were finally revealed, and one of the interesting changes to the publisher’s line-up was the YA-oriented title Gotham Academy, a title that I initially had no interest in.

Released today, Gotham Academy #1 explores the life of academy-girl Olive as a new school year starts and she gets to meet with her ex-boyfriend’s younger sister who is just starting her first year, and we also get introduced to lots of mysteries and thrills. Formerly an artist all the way, Becky Cloonan has teamed up with Brenden Fletcher for writing credits on this title, with Karl Kerschl doing the artwork. As a fresh new series, Gotham Academy holds a ton of promises and the YA-orientation of it is also something that is nice to see among a line of books that are 99.99% grimdark/adult-oriented.

Gotham Academy 001When the title was announced, reports filtered in that it was going to be an out-of-continuity title that explored the lives of Gotham’s greatest icons when they were kids. I honestly don’t remember where I heard that, but that definitely put me off the title from the get go. But then, correct reports began to come in and I saw that the title had been misrepresented and that it was going to feature an all-new cast of teenagers and that the “Harry Potter” concept was going to be the main thing here. And that Batman/Bruce Wayne would make the occasional appearance and that was it.

After three years of superheroes all the way, with most of the non-superhero titles getting dropped along the way and mostly in the first year itself, New 52 kind of needs new blood desperately. It needs stories that are different from the mainline stories. It needs characters who are different. It needs art that is different from the house style. Basically, New 52 needs a big shake-up and I can say with all my conviction that Gotham Academy is going to be a title that does that. In spades.

For one, the two protagonists as per this issue are Olive and Maps, two young girls who are students of Gotham Academy. Something like this hasn’t really been done in New 52 so far, as far as I can tell. These two have no powers, they are just normal schoolgirls. Second, they are experiencing school-life and that in itself is something that we really haven’t seen. And the entire story is focused on them and their interactions with each other and with the other students around them, and it is all pretty darn good.

I flipped through the issue and each page was more impressive than the last. Becky and Brenden build-up their characters rather nicely and they introduce quite a few mysteries as well, whether they be related to Gotham Academy itself or to Olive, who seems to have had a rather tumultuous first year at the academy, something that a lot of characters allude to every now and then. It all just adds to the horror-vibe that can be found in the issue from the first few pages, and the two writers never take a step back where that is concerned.

The ending cliffhanger is one of the moments that they’ve been building up to here, and I really can’t wait to see what happens next, because I’m definitely hooked on to this title.

As I said, Karl Kerschl is the artist here, with Geyser on the colours with Dave McCaig, Steve Wands on the letters, and the cover by Karl as well. Just to get this out of the way, but I loved the artwork here. Karl seems to be the perfect artist for this title, and he definitely has the whole high-school thing down to perfection. Whether we talk body language or background details or anything else, the art is both vivid and detailed. and it is most definitely not the house style, but something more relaxed, smoother even. Geyser and Dave’s colours then bring in much of the horror vibe and the subtle gradations of colours panel-to-panel and the fact that almost all the action here takes place in the night, it is all damn good.

A far, far better issue than I expected!

Rating: 9.5/10

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Posted on October 2, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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