Gotham Academy #3 “The Ghost in the North Hall”
Written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Feltcher
Art by Karl Kerschl

It’s the third installment of Gotham Academy, and we get a strong dose of adventure here! I’ve described this book as charming, fun, and a fresh take on Gotham, but this issue delivers in ways that the previous two issues didn’t. What originally seemed to be somewhat stereotypical characters (the not-so-average girl, the popular mean girl, the nerdy friend, etc), get turned upside down to an extent, and unexpected relationship develops. This was definitely the most fun I’ve had reading this title.

We last saw Olive and Maps following a “cult” of students into Millie Jane Cobblepot’s crypt. When Olive notices a special copy of Millie Jane’s diary, she knows that Pomeline is involved in the cult and inadvertently sets the crypt on fire trying to get the book.

This issue picks up with Olive in detention, recanting the events of what happened in the crypt to Colton Rivera, the too cool for school, bad boy. Colton’s inquiry of why Olive is in detention is cut short when the two hear a loud scream. Olive immediately races towards the direction of the scream to find her roommate, Lucy, terrified. Pomeline is also in the area, and quickly points out the passing glimpse of a ghost. Some of the faculty soon arrive, and it becomes clear that they are fully aware of the situation. Not only are they aware, but they’re doing everything they can to hide and cover it up. And what makes things even better, is that the ghost didn’t just happen to be there, she was apparently summoned by Pomeline and her cult secret society: the Order of the Bat.

In an unexpected twist, Olive and Pomeline decide to work together to investigate the ghost whom they believe is the ghost of Millie Jane Cobblepot. I was concerned it was going to be a “I hate you, but I guess we can work together this time” type of teamwork, but it wasn’t. Surprisingly, it was very normal. The two started off by essentially clearing the air like adults (or how we think adults should do it), then got to work reviewing what they know about the ghost and Millie Jane before making some pretty accurate deductions. Olive only becomes more eager when she notices glowing eyes in the north tower while she and Maps are on a lookout, trying to catch another glimpse of the ghost.

The three girls end up recruiting the talents of Colton Rivera to help them break into the north tower of the academy. These four make a great ensemble that’s completely enjoyable and fun. Each personality plays off the other well, and makes you wish you were experiencing this little adventure with them. But when they reach the North Tower and break in, they discover things that they may not be prepared to face; including more mystery, some secrets of the north tower, and forgotten memories of a painful summer. All of this adventure drives the plot forward, but it’s the nice and heartfelt moments that happen between some of these kids that remind you that at times, the greatest maturity is found in youthful innocence. The conversation between Olive and Kyle is definitely a perfect example of this, and another moment that helps reshape and redefine these characters that you thought you knew.

 

Recommended if:

  • You’ve been wanting a little more adventure from Gotham Academy.
  • You want to be surprised by the maturity of these young characters.
  • You love a fun, mystical mystery.

 

Be warned, there are spoilers below.

The Art: Once again, Kerschl delivers outstanding art! I’m still amazed at how well he enhances light and shadows, and his backgrounds are as detailed as his featured characters. He truly is a gifted artist, and he’s the perfect fit for this book! I’m sure it won’t happen anytime soon, but I’m going to be incredibly sad the day I find out he’s leaving this title.

I do have one small callout about the art, and it’s the girls’ plaid skirts. Brandon and I discussed this the comments section last month, but if you look carefully, you’ll notice it essentially just a designed filler that just gets dropped into the skirt. It doesn’t flow or curve with the movements of the characters, and it’s bothered me ever since I noticed it. It’s a very small bother, but definitely something I noticed.

As always, you can find an example of the internal art in the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

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The Good: The characters. I feel like I get surprised by the increasing depth I find in each character each month. This definitely isn’t the deepest book by any means, I just think I have an expectation that these characters will be frivolous and shallow, or immature due to their age. But they have moments of great maturity. The quick, but honest, forgiveness between Olive and Pomeline was the first instance of this maturity, but the shining moment was the conversation between Olive and Kyle.

I fully expected the conversation between these two to be melodramatic and very Twilight-esque… but it wasn’t. We haven’t had the opportunity to see these two characters interact since Olive has been avoiding Kyle, but when we finally get this moment, you discover just how much these two genuinely and honestly care for one another. I could definitely stand to see more of Olive and Kyle having conversations like this, especially if they focus on what happened to Olive last summer.

The Bad: The only bad that I can find here is the fact that this book is still clearly written for a younger, female audience. This really becomes a matter and taste and preference more so than quality though, so I feel bad for putting this in the “bad” section.

Overall: Each month, this book grows in heart and charm. Each of the kids featured are very real, believable, and pretty engaging. With a burst of adventure, Gotham Academy gains something it definitely needed – a solid direction.

 

SCORE: 8.5/10