Review – Gotham Academy Vol. 1

Gotham Academy Vol. 1: Welcome To Gotham Academy

Writers – Becky Cloonan & Brenden Fletcher, Artist – Karl Kerschl

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School is back in session, and Olive Silverlock must contend with more than just her soon to be ex-boyfriend’s kid sister. She’ll have to be wary of the ghosts of dead Cobblepots, a weird bat cult, the mysterious sounds from the North wing, and that damn bat signal that keeps flying in the sky. And what happened over the summer that she can’t remember?

This has the feel of what the Runaways did for Marvel. We get a corner of the DCU that has connections to some of the familiar trappings, we have Batman, the bat signal, allusions to the Penguin and Arkham Asylum, but we also have a tightly focused narrative focusing on young children with stories and motivations of their own. It’s refreshing sometimes to read a comic that is superhero adjacent, but isn’t concerned with masked vigilantes. In fact, the main character of this book hates Batman for reasons that I won’t spoil for you, but that are completely understandable.

Not to keep comparing this to Marvel, but the art has the feel of titles like Spider Man Loves Mary Jane, or X-Men First Class, though with a darker Gotham edge. Characters are bright and effusive even when their surroundings are not. Oddly though, there’s one character here who is not as darkly portrayed as I’m used to seeing them (again I won’t spoil, but suffice it to say I’m not talking about the Joker). This character is usually shown as being somewhat animistic and viscous, but here is sympathetic and protective. This again reinforces the portrayal that Batman might be picking on would-be criminals, and that some people deserve a second chance.

I like the possibilities this series opens up, particularly the question of whether the main character will choose to be good or not? But it’s also just a solid mystery, with a lot of the charm that was appealing about the exploration of large old academies in the early Harry Potter books.

So, Runaways meets Harry Potter? Sorry DC, I’ll stop doing that. Volume 2 promises to incorporate Damian Wayne, so this title definitely has places to go.

(5 stars | Batman really is a jerk sometimes)

* I received a free ARC from NetGalley in return for my honest review

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