Gotham Academy is one of the breakout books of the recent Bat-renaissance. It’s got a “Hogwarts in Gotham” sort of vibe, featuring a young and diverse cast of new characters as they receive their education in the mysterious and ancient institution of Gotham Academy. Sure, they aren’t training to be witches and wizards, but there’s a definite supernatural element here, and it’s utterly fascinating. And like those wonderful Harry Potter books, the creators drop lots of hints and Easter Eggs about the wider DC/Bat world the comic inhabits. Notably, Gotham Academy is also possibly the only book within DC Comics’ main New 52 line that is suitable for younger (though perhaps not too young) audiences.
browngirlcomics is proud to present a wonderful review of Gotham Aacdemy #3, written by my close pal Zina, who also happens to be a very excellent writer and knowledgeable comics fan!
I grew up reading Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books thanks to my mother who wanted me to read the books that she did as a child of the forties and fifties. So I had fond memories of the kid detective genre.
Gotham Academy as a whole blows that out of the water because it’s got the whole shebang: kid detectives, utterly adorable and engaging characters, and a serious supernatural bent to it. (And unlike the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, it’s not racist or sexist!)
The first two issues were tight, with brilliant art and the beginnings of a story that threatens to be just as good (if not flat out better) than some of the arcs that we’ve gotten from the mainstream Gotham comics. Issue three of the series is even better.
The threads from the first two issues start coming together even tighter. At the very end of the second issue, we see the series’ main character Olive Silverlock in a panel that looks like something out of Firestarter. It’s a seriously scary panel because even though Olive’s been dropping all sorts of hints in her internal monologue, nothing could have prepared me for that.
Issue three picks up where the previous one left off. Olive, surrounded by flames but completely untouched. The first page is intense and you can practically feel the fear from most of the characters. In the opening, Olive’s nemesis Pomeline Fritch hardly seems like the same person that was so mean to Olive in the previous issues. Her fear makes her a bit easier to relate to and the fact that everyone but Olive is stunned by her walk through the flames gives insight to their respective characters.
One thing I really love about this series (that I’ve loved since the first issue) is how different all the characters are. In addition to being diverse in terms of nationality, the characters are all pretty well fleshed out. There’s no literary same-face going on with the characters and with three main girls, that’s pretty impressive. I’m bringing this up because in issue three, all three girls shine. Whatever expectations you have of them so far wind up shifting because they’re all so well-written and like actual teenage girls, they’re unpredictable.
This does bring me to my one low point with regard to Gotham Academy‘s cast of characters: Colton Rivera. While I don’t hate any of the characters in the series, I definitely don’t enjoy his appearances. Maybe he’ll grow on me, but in the meanwhile, I’m just not feeling the love for his smarmy little self. I have issues with opportunistic characters that only do something for something and while I have a feeling that he’ll probably experience some character growth (since we are only three issues in), his interactions with the other characters leaves me a bit weary.
But aside from that, I love all of the other characters to pieces.
A highlight of this issue for me was when Pom and Olive started working together towards solving the mystery of Gotham Academy. I like that Pom is tough but that she also knows how to apologize when she’s obviously in the wrong. And Olive showing her backbone? Excellent stuff because it could’ve easily gone in another direction that would’ve ended with bad feelings for all. I love that however begrudgingly it is, they’re going to work together.
Against one of the most gorgeous backgrounds I’ve seen in comics in a long time, Olive finally sits down and talks with her almost-ex Kyle Mizoguchi about what happened the summer before the comic starts.
So that’s excellent, one of the little mysteries gets solved this issue. We finally get (the beginnings of) an answer to the question of “What happened to Olive over the summer?” and it’s a doozy. It’s also, I realized on my second read-through, probably not the entire story. It’s sad as comic backstories go because her mom is who’s hurt, but coupled with what we know already from the previous issues (things like Olive’s intense hatred of all things Bat-themed, and probably the whole “she can walk through fire” thing), we know there’s more to the story.
Anyway, the story picks up a bit later with Olive and my favorite character, Maps Mizoguchi. She is the actual cutest little thing and she’s just so excited to go outside and hunt down a ghost. She doesn’t know what the ghost’ll do to her and she doesn’t care, she’s just into the adventure. She’s seriously precious and I love how she essentially manages to pull Olive out of her shell.
The plot starts to get scary at this point as well. There’s a reappearance of the babely potential demon from the last book and even more eyes peering from behind cracks in walls. Whatever’s going on in Gotham Academy, it’s not going to be pretty and it’s definitely not going to end well. It’s more than a haunting, but I’m still not entirely sure of what’s going on beyond demons and probably a cult of some kind.
Whatever it is, it’s nasty and creepy and by the end of the issue?
It’s got Olive’s arm.
Top Five Things About Gotham Academy #3
- Positive relationships between girls! This isn’t an all-ages comic so it doesn’t necessarily need to be all lights and rainbows (and it really isn’t), but the fastest way for a comic to get me to fall in love with it is to have diverse and positive relationships between girls and GA has it in spades.
- The cover! Well, all the art is wonderful, but the cover with Olive scratching out the Bat-symbol on her desk made me laugh the first time I saw it. Now that there are a few pieces to put together with regard to her connections with the Batman, it makes me think and ask questions that we’re probably not getting any answers to for a few more months.
- Maps get her own bullet point for this month’s issue because she’s so freaking cute. I said it in the body of my main review but I’m going to say it again because it’s so true. The tone of the story would be so much different if she wasn’t a major character and I love how peppy she is. Gosh!
- The page layouts are excellent. There’s a great use of space and your eyes just flow along with the page. Paneling choices can make a good book even better or ruin the entire experience and the way that Karl Kerschl did a layout that managed to hold the eye while also drawing it towards some seriously gorgeous backgrounds was just wonderful.
- So much delicious foreshadowing. I am on the edge of my seat eagerly awaiting issue four in part so I can come back to issue three and be like “aha! I knew that was relevant”. I feel like this series draws you in and kind of has you feeling as if you’re alongside Olive and her friends on their way to sussing out supernatural secrets.
Zina is a long-time comics fan and is never happier than when she gets to yell about comics on the internet. Follow Z on Twitter @stichomancery!