Tag Archives: DC Comics

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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Review – Young Gotham Sampler 2015

Young Gotham Sampler 2015

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This title collects the first issues in three of DC’s relatively new series: Grayson #1, Gotham Academy #1 and Batgirl #35 (re-branded Burnside arc of Batgirl following the departure of writer Gail Simone). You can read my full review of Grayson here, and my review of Gotham Academy sometime later today, so this post will cover the new Batgirl.

The Batgirl story shows Babs moving to the Gotham equivalent of Brooklyn (across the bridge), leaving behind her old roommate Alysia and picking up Frankie, a woman Barbara met while in physical therapy for her spinal injury. In Burnside there are trendy coffee shops, parties and lots of cute guys. There’s also a new villain trying to get personal and embarrassing information to share with the trolls of the web, and his next target is Batgirl.

The art style is significantly different than the previous iteration of the title, losing the tight spandex form-fitting suit for something more functional and hip. The new suit actually looks like something somebody would wear, and you can see that it is just a slightly altered jacket and pants that Barbara had to make in a hurry since all her stuff was stashed in Black Canary’s storage area which accidentally burned down. While the suit may play down some of the male gaze aspects of this title, we still see Barbara parading around in her underwear on the second page of this issue. Yes, these are college girls, and seeing someone in a t-shirt and panties would be natural in this situation, but you also could have gone with pajama shorts without the low cut. I’m not a prude, and generally speaking this issue is a step in a good direction, I just don’t want to give DC a complete free pass on the sexualization of its characters.

I do like the use of Barbara’s eidetic memory, particularly the sequence where she walks around to different parts of the apartment and tries to figure out who stole her laptop, her memory growing hazy in certain spots as her level of alcohol consumption increased the previous night. Her take-down of the villain at the end of this is pretty satisfying and sets up the next run of issues nicely.

I think Simone brought a lot of interesting things to this character, particularly dealing with the trauma of the Joker shooting her through the spine, and it’s a shame to see her go. But this new direction gives us a way to experience more of the fun side of Batgirl, more akin to how she appeared in series like Batman: The Animated Series. I’d definitely pick up the rest of this trade to find out more.

Overall for 99 cents, this sampler is kind of steal and a good way to determine if you’ll like any of these series.

(4 stars | Nice jumping on point for Batgirl)

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

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