Comic Vine Review


Gotham Academy #1 - Welcome to Gotham Academy


Waynes, bats, and...teen drama!

The Good

GOTHAM ACADEMY is different from anything else DC is publishing right now, and that's apparent on first glance. Flip through a copy, and you'll find that Kerschl, Geyser, and McCaig have crafted rich, beautiful pages that buck any sort of "house style," establishing GOTHAM ACADEMY's unique aesthetic right out of the gate. There's a youthful energy to the pages (despite the fact that the Academy is a pretty gloomy place), from the panel shapes to the well-chosen dramatic angles to the focus that details like waffles and binoculars warrant.

Cloonan, Fletcher, & Co. know how to set up a story: as Olive and Maps begin their tour of the school, the pairing of a returning student with a first-year both seems natural to the school setting and serves to give us a balanced and interesting perspective. Olive knows the ropes, and has pre-existing perceptions (and some emotional baggage), while Maps is wide-eyed and curious; it's an excellent way to introduce us to this story and this part of Gotham without the hand-holding of overly direct exposition. That the two girls already know each other makes the story feel even more comfortable and well-paced.

The issue paces like an episode of a cartoon -- right down to the nearly-comedic action moment and next-issue tease that begs us to tune in next month. It feels natural for a teen mystery-drama, and tracks well with the artistic style. The central mystery has kick, but it also sits atop other opportunities for exploration, from the curious (sorting out how high school social stratification works in Gotham) to the curiouser (what's going on with Olive, why did she dump Kyle, and how does she know Bruce?). In short? There's a lot to come back for as this series unfolds.

The Bad

Minor gripe: I'm fairly certain this title is meant to be current vis-a-vis technology and such (especially since students grab cameras/phones to record Olive' and Maps' disruption), so what's the deal with the candles? I'm willing to accept that Gotham Academy is a gloomy, gothic place without denying it some modern lighting.

The Verdict

Welcome to the freshest take on Gotham this side of the New 52. GOTHAM ACADEMY enriches the city we know so well, stretching the scope wider than the heroes and villains we're used to, and inviting us along for an interesting tale that shares as many notes with Harry Potter as it does with classic Bat lore. The creative team has knocked this one out of the park -- it's recognizably Gotham (Bruce Wayne cameo and all), but it's brimming with heart and absolutely distinct from any other title with bats on the cover.