Gotham Academy vol 1 (issues #1-6)
written by Becky Cloonan & Brenden Fletcher
art by Karl Kerschl
Published: 17th June 2015
Source: galley from the publishers
Gotham City's most prestigious prep school is a very weird place. It's got a spooky campus, oddball teachers, and rich benefactors always dropping by...like that weirdo Bruce Wayne. But nothing is as strange as the students!
Like, what's up with Olive Silverlock? Is she crazy or what? Where did she go last summer? And what's the deal with her creepy mom? And how come that Freshman Maps is always following her around? And is she still going out with Kyle? P.S. Did you hear the rumor about the ghost in the North Hall?! (source Goodreads)
This was one of my most anticipated comics from DC. As much as I love DC, I'd been getting bored of them constantly catering to white middle class males, so it's nice that they branched out to their teen female audience.
Written by Becky Cloonan--one of the first female writers to work on Batman--with gorgeous art by Karl Kerschl--who wrote a beautiful, funny, and heartbreaking web comic called The Abominable Charles Christopher --Gotham Academy follows Olive Silverlock as she navigates through school after a difficult summer that she refuses to talk about. Her ex-boyfriend's little sister, Maps, joins her, and together they have some seriously funny and cute adventures together.
According to the latest school gossip, the North Hall is haunted, so Maps drags Olive into a silly and spooky Scooby-Doo-esque mystery ride. Along the way, they pick up more members of their rag-tag team, and they don't stop until they solve the mystery behind the hauntings.
At first, I was a bit skeptical, since they started off with using the bitchy mean girl trope, but I was pleasantly surprised when she became one of the 'gang'. I was also very pleased to see that Maps and her brother are of Asian descent. I'm always happy to see some diversity in my comics.
Two things really resonated with me. The first is that Olive seems to have PTSD brought on by bats, which includes Batman. It gives an extra layer to both her character, and Batman's. It makes me question Batman as a hero. Not that he's a bad guy or anything, but more along the lines of questioning his methods. Not to mention, he's a pretty intimidating and imposing figure.
Secondly, my favourite 'villain' features in this comic, and here, he's portrayed as more of an antihero than a villain, which, coupled with Batman's questionable hero status, shows a strange duality of what it means to be a hero and what it means to be a villain. Because in this story, Batman is definitely a villain.
The art is absolutely gorgeous. It shows the gothic side to the school, while maintaining the light tone, and I think Kerschl has captured the spirit of the comic so well. There is also a touch of manga to the style, adding to its depth and creating a perfect environment for teens.
I also got giddy with excitement at the sight of Damian Wayne--Bruce's son--being accepted into Gotham Academy. I look forward to any shenanigans he may be a part of.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for something light and fun in the DC world, and anyone who wants an alternative view of Batman and his role as a heroic character. Perfect for teens looking to find a way into the world of comics.