Gotham Academy #2 “The Diary of Millie Jane Cobblepot”
Written by Becky Cloonan & Brenden Fletcher
Art by Karl Kerschl

Last month we were introduced to an aspect of Gotham that hasn’t really been explored – its youth. For the first time, we’re getting a glimpse of what it’s like to be a normal kid living in Gotham, attending a potentially not-so-normal school. I found it to be a refreshing approach to Gotham, that is wrapped in fun and mystery. Going into this second issue, I was hoping Gotham Academy would continue to build upon its foundation that was created concerning Olive, her secrets, and the tall tales of ghosts and spirits found in the school itself. Unfortunately, what we get here is essentially a regurgitation and reminder of plots that were introduced in the first issue. Regardless, the book is still an enjoyable read.

The book starts off with Olive reading entries from Millie Jean Cobblepot’s diary. There’s not really anything important featured in the entries themselves, (although there are some pretty suggestive glimpses into Millie Jane’s home life), but it’s a nice touch to set the tone and theme of this issue. And I have to admit, having the history of Gotham represented is one of my favorite aspects of Gotham Academy, even if it is just a quick reference or reveal. I hope the creative team continues to utilize Gotham’s history, because it allows Gotham itself to exist and develop as a “character.”

Olive and Pomeline are paired together for a history project after a small altercation. Clearly this doesn’t sit well with either of the girls, but they begrudgingly begin their work together. While they’re researching in the library, we’re surprised with the delightful reveal that the Academy’s librarian is none other than the Bookworm! He’s only given a page, but it’s a great representation of the character, and a wonderful tease as to what else we’ll get to see from him, as well as the potential of other faculty members – the options are endless and pretty fun to think about.

The driving force of this book is the mystery that it’s slowly steeping itself in. The first issue presented a number of questions, and this issue offers a few more. Since Gotham Academy is written for a younger audience, it isn’t too heavy or serious, but fun and light hearted. These are kids after all. There is quite a bit of depth in the unsaid though. Olive is constantly guarded, and we’re reminded multiple times of the previous summer and her mother. There are no details as to what actually happened – and I’m really curious to find out, so I hope the payoff is worth the wait – but Olive’s body language speaks volumes when the subjects are brought up. The same could be said for every time Olive and Kyle speak to each other. It’s clear that these kids experienced something tragic, and no words need to be spoken to understand this – which is a testament to Kerschl’s stunning art.

I am concerned the creative team might be moving a little too slow in answering some of these questions though. Yes, I know this is only the second issue, and I don’t need full reveals at this point, but I don’t feel like there was any progress with the mysteries we had coming into this issue. We know that something happened to Olive over the summer, that the absence and identity of her mother is a mystery, she somehow has ties to Bruce Wayne, something created a rift between her and Kyle, and the Academy is possibly haunted…   but we didn’t gain any ground on any of these. For those that are waiting for the  graphic novel of this title, I don’t think this will pose any problems. But for those that are choosing to read this title month to month, the pacing could kill the book rather quickly, especially when you consider there is no action to carry this book forward during slower plot points.

We are introduced to a new, key element though. There’s a pseudo “bat cult” in the school, and the members are doing interesting things at night. You get to see glimpses of them throughout the issue sneaking around the campus, with a reveal towards the end of the book. The question is, who are they? What are they doing? And what does Millie Jane Cobblepot’s diary have to do with their actions? If you want to find out, pick up the issue and join Olive and Maps on what’s sure to be an entertaining journey.

 

Recommended if:

  • You want a refreshing and invigorating take on Gotham City.
  • You’re craving some outstandingly beautiful art.
  • You’re desiring some light-hearted fun and mystery in your Batman mythology.

Be warned, there are spoilers below.

The Art: I can’t praise the art enough to give it proper justice. So much of this book and its narrative owe a huge “thank you” to Kerschl and team. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a book as beautiful as this one – the closest thing would have to be Batwoman, though its macabre tone made for a different type of beauty. Everything Kerschl does is well thought and adds to the story. Each panel is packed with details, from the characters’ body language to the scenery, that add so much to the story. I can’t help think that this book would be far less interesting without this team. And while this could present the question, “Is this book style over substance?” I’d have to say no.

 

The Good: The characters. I’m a little surprised that I’m saying this because we don’t really know much about the characters. There’s still a lot of development that needs to occur with our protagonists (and antagonists), but I still find each of them rather fascinating. Olive is so guarded that you can’t help but find her intriguing. And while there is some teen angst, there’s not so much that it turns you of.

The real highlight for me is Maps though. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. I love her innocence and tenacity. With lines like, “I’m stepping on dead people.” while walking through a graveyard, or “All of my dungeon crawling fantasies are about to come true.” and “I’m going to loot the crap out of this place” while entering a crypt, how can you not love her?

The mysteries are pretty interesting as well. I want to know what happened with Olive during the summer, and I want to know who her mother is. It’s not going to keep me up at night, but it does grab my attention. I’m also curious to know what this “bat cult” is doing, and why Pomeline was so interested in the drawings in Millie Jane Cobblepot’s diary. Also, what was up with the guy in the library with the red eyes?

Also, and I’m completely biased with this, but there’s a Doberman! I love Doberman Pinschers, and I’m not afraid to admit I let out a slight squeal of excitement when I saw one here! For some Doberman love, click the spoiler tag!

Spoiler

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Hey! It’s a Dobie in Gotham Academy! My Dobies are below! Meet Hurricane and Summer!

Hurricane

Summer

 

The Bad: There’s not much bad here. I already expressed my concern about the pacing, but the only other thing that could seriously hurt this book, would be the fact that it’s targeted for younger females. That’s not to say Gotham Academy isn’t enjoyable for other demographics, but it could play a part in the book’s sales over time.

 

Overall: Maybe it’s the innocence and allure of youth, or that Gotham Academy forces me to reminisce about simpler times in my own life, but I find this book charming and fun. It’s a different take on Gotham, but one that is well appreciated amongst all of the weight and darkness of the other titles. I can’t wait to see how this book effects the current continuity. It will only make it that much more interesting.

 

SCORE: 7.5/10