Friday, June 26, 2015

Me on Gotham Academy Volume 1

Title: Gotham Academy Volume 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy
Writers & Artists: Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, & Karl Kerschl
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: DC Comics

Welcome to Gotham Academy, the most prestigious school in Gotham City. Only the best and brightest students may enter its halls, study in its classrooms, explore its secret passages, summon its terrifying spirits... Okay, so Gotham Academy isn't like other schools. But Olive Silverlock isn't like other students. After a mysterious incident over summer break, she's back at school with a bad case of amnesia, an even worse attitude... and an unexplained fear of bats. Olive's supposed to show new student Maps Mizoguchi the ropes. Problem: Mags is kid sister of Kyle, Olive's sort of ex. Then there's the ghost haunting the campus, the secret society conducting bizarre rituals, and Bruce Wayne, the weirdo billionaire who funds the Academy-and may know the secret to Olive's big mystery. Can Olive and Maps ace the biggest challenge of their lives? Or are they about to get schooled?

Gotham Academy Volume 1, filled with mystery and drama, is a fresh and new story in an already well-established comic universe.

There's a little bit of an ensemble cast going on, the same reoccurring characters popping up, but if there had to be a main character it would be Olive Silverlock. It's her second year at Gotham Academy but things aren't going so well. Olive is filled with questions because she's not quite sure what happened to her over the summer. Why did she end up spending the summer alone? Why is she so angry now? Thankfully, she's joined almost at the hip to Mia "Maps" Mizoguchi, the most excitable, nerdy freshman who also happens to be her sort-of boyfriend Kyle's sister. Their friendship is everything. It's all about their interactions, how they don't always agree and make compromises when it comes to investigating the secrets of Gotham Academy.

The artwork is awesome. The academy comes across as atmospheric, all the details of the stone towers and the interior wood paneling. And the different facial expressions. Olive's determined face, Maps' big grin, Pomeline's sneer, Kyle's confusion. There seems to be a faint dark wash over everything, giving the comic a dark tone, but it works. This is the start of something new, this is when the start of more than a few mysteries are discovered, when all the sneaking about under cover of night starts. It'll take time before everything is brought into the light. Plus there's Maps being all big smiles and excitement, ready to brighten up the day with her lime green backpack.

When it comes to diversity it seems to be there. An even balance of female and male named characters with more emphasis on Olive and Maps. The characters are racially diverse. There are a couple of mentions made to Olive not having much money, her being on scholarship and not having a cellphone, but it still feels like a rich kids' school. And I really hope that there will be some LGBTQIA characters appearing in the future.

Now, don't worry, you don't need to be well-versed in the DC/Batman universe before picking this up. It's a good intro to the universe but it stands alone. There are the standard references to certain characters and places, like a mysterious asylum, but feel free to just jump in. It's meant for all ages, there's nothing too graphic when it comes to violence or language, but remember that the characters are all teenagers. At its heart, it seems to be a fun and mystery-heavy boarding school drama with a complicated, flawed heroine searching for answers and her sidekick full of joy and tricks ready at her side.

I've been reading the single issues and I'm really curious as to what will come next. What's going on with Olive's mom? What's going on with Olive? What's this new kid doing there? Complicated characters, lots of mysteries to uncover, a supportive female friendship. If you're new to comics or an avid reader, you might want to give this a read.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from DC Comics through NetGalley. I also purchase the single issues from my local comic book store.)

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