October is a huge month for DC; they’ve unleashed a slew of new titles and creative team switches galore.
The Batman line (which is celebrating its 75th anniversary) in particular is getting a big makeover, with some new and rather unique books leading the charge. One of the most notable is Gotham Academy, a book that looks like it’s completely aimed at younger teens (actually having books for a teen audience? What a novel concept!). Does it succeed? Is it good?
Gotham Academy #1 (DC Comics)
Welcome to Gotham Academy, an elite prep school in Gotham that houses an array of unique, upper-class students; students such as Olive Silverlock, a rather mopey and depressed girl, and Maps Mizoguchi (Mia is her real first name), who loves waffles and is very outgoing.
Gotham Academy is also the home to many secrets, one which might possibly be a ghost haunting the premises.
Also, is that a young Daredevil/Matt Murdock I spy?
Now, the main question on everyone’s mind regarding this new series, due to it being so radically different than anything else in the Batman line and pretty much all of DC’s current output: is this comic worth my time?
That depends. Gotham Academy isn’t by any means a bad book, though it really is for a more niche audience — young teens and girls in particular. The title also has the feel and tone of a high school manga in terms of its setup and characters. I can predict GA easily catching on with the right crowd and being perfect for them, but other people may not find this kind of comic their thing. It’s going to be really interesting to see how this comic will play out popularity-wise as time goes on.
As most debut issues go, this one is mostly setup and laying down the groundwork for what we’ll be seeing throughout the series or at least the first arc. It introduces the setting fairly well and does an even better job setting up the main character, Olive. Olive handles main narration duties and relates what she has to deal with while being at the school.
Some people may find her whiny or “emo” as she does her fair share of complaining and feeling down in the dumps (God forbid a character have emotions, especially a teenager), but really, considering her situation and crap she puts up with, she has every right to feel and act the way she does. The issue does seem to be hinting at a main or background story for the series with the ghost angle, but I hope it explores that soon since not much happened in this one. So overall, the story isn’t bad but needs to get moving quickly in the next issue.
Oh man, do I want waffles right now.
The rest of Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher’s writing on the book is good so far. There’s not much else in the way of characters or characterization besides Maps at this point, who is rather likeable and nice but needs a bit more development. The dialogue is enjoyable and it doesn’t feel as fake or forced hip/modern like some writers do when they write teenagers (*coughYoungAvengerscough*). Sure, there is some quirkiness and silliness going on, but it doesn’t feel out of the realm of how a teenager would actually talk realistically. The pacing is decent, the story flows rather well from page to page, and the ending is rather nice. Also, despite being set in Gotham, it’s not overly in your face about it and any connection to the city feels natural.
The artwork by Karl Kerschl is easily one of the biggest highlights of the book; it’s beautiful and has a definite manga feel to it — particularly with how the characters look and are drawn. The layouts are great and easy to follow, the coloring is beautiful and vibrant, the characters look expressive, there are plenty of little subtleties sprinkled throughout the issue, and I really appreciate the fact that almost page and panel has an actual background to it. Karl Kerschl and the coloring team of Geyser and Dave McCaig did a fantastic job on the book, easily making it one of the most unique and visually pleasing books DC has to offer.
Sir, you are getting candle wax all over the place!
Is It Good?
Gotham Academy #1 is a pretty solid start to this new series. While it’s setup for the most part and not a book for everyone, it’s a very engaging and enjoyable read overall. Combined with good writing and beautiful looking artwork, I’d say Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher are on to something with this book. Definitely keep an eye on it since I see plenty of potential with the title going forward.