Gotham Academy #2 Review

Written by Becky Cloonan & Brenden Fletcher
Art by Karl Kerschl

Already hooked on Gotham Academy? You’re not alone! Issue 2 revisits the mysteries of Olive’s forgotten summer and her obsession with Penguin’s ancestor, and builds on the character relationships we were ready to explore after issue 1. We see more of Olive’s antagonist, Pomeline, as Olive and her bully are paired together in a history project by their young teacher, Professor MacPherson. If you have bad memories of uncomfortably sharing space with someone who detests you, you might share Olive Silverlock’s pain.

We also see Olive’s first interactions with Kyle, the sort-of-ex-boyfriend she is actively avoiding for reasons still unknown. It’s clear she still loves him, and he may very well love her, but there’s a roadblock parked between them and we’ve yet to discover what it is. That roadblock seems to have implications reaching beyond their relationship, which is great for readers who want a female protagonist who is much more than her love interest.

As if she doesn’t have enough to worry about, there are ghosts haunting the campus grounds that she and Maps are crazy enough to investigate; in a cemetery, no less. Their curiosity leads them to their second mini-adventure, with an awesome final page that will pretty much guarantee issue 3 will sell out.

There’s a laundry list of mysteries: Why were that guy’s eyes burning red? What does Millie Jane Cobblepot have to do with everything? Why do I get the feeling I’m going to like Pomeline in the not-so-distant future? If you want fast answers this book might not be for you, but if you have the patience, it can easily become one of your favorite series. Full of character-driven drama, each person feels multi-dimensional, which is no easy feat in a series only on issue 2. Even Professor MacPherson, a somewhat peripheral character in the series thus far, shows subtle complexity as she tries to hide her old habit, tossing the cigarette away before sitting with Olive for a surprising heart-to-heart chat. Olive herself is pretty much a mess, but can you blame her? She has a lot to sort through.

Can you let Olive know? She’s having a hard time over here.

If there’s one word to summarize this new series, it has to be “charming”. The youthful sense of adventure is something missing from most comics lately, and Gotham Academy is proving to be a refreshing reminder. Olive and Maps are quite the unique odd-couple that both pull their weight in their own ways. Olive is a mysterious introvert who is so concerned about being a bad person that you, the reader, feel certain she’s not. Maps is her outgoing and curious counterpart, who seems so endearingly oblivious that you wonder whether she doesn’t realize how she comes across to others or if she simply doesn’t mind it.

The fun part about both is that they’re so intriguing, and you want to get to know them better – particularly Olive, as we simultaneously unravel the character’s background while watching her own path of self-discovery.

There’s a limit, of course, to piling on mystery until a story becomes frustrating and convoluted – call it the “Lost” ceiling – but Gotham Academy is far from that stage. As it stands, Cloonan and Fletcher have given us nothing but reasons to trust they’re leading us through a fantastic story. Buy this comic for yourself and someone you like.

9/10

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  • Jordan Calhoun is a writer and pop culture savant in New York City. He holds a B.A. in Sociology and Criminal Justice, B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Japanese, and an M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy. He might solve a mystery, or rewrite history. Find him on Twitter @jordanmcalhoun

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