Gotham Academy: Endgame #1 “Joker Jitters”
Written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher
Art by Jeff Stokely
Colors by Jenny Donovan

Alright, this is going to be difficult to review… Not because it was terrible, but because I literally have to dissect a single book into quarters to properly review the content and materials… So let’s make this as easy as possible, and begin with an overview.

I have not been fond of the Endgame tie-ins… at all. I’m typically a fan of tie-ins, but if I’m going to purchase a book that’s connected to a story, I want it to feel relevant, and I haven’t completely gotten that yet. Batgirl: Endgame was decent, but I ultimately felt like there was so much more that they could’ve done with it. So surprisingly, Gotham Academy: Endgame, the book that should have the least connection with Endgame, is the book that I’ve enjoyed the most out of all the tie-ins… but it’s the worst thing I’ve read from the Gotham Academy brand… Are you starting to understand why this review is a little difficult for me?

For those of you that haven’t been reading Batman Endgame but picked up this issue (why would you do that!?!?), the Joker is back, and he’s unleashing more hell than ever. He’s advanced his Joker toxin, released it on Gotham, and her citizens are tearing the city, as well as each other, apart. It’s essentially like Joker’s version of a zombie apocalypse. Because of this, the students of Gotham Academy are being held in the gymnasium until the threat passes. The students have set up tents inside the gym, and Maps being the awesome, little human that she is, is encouraging ghost stories pertaining to the Joker. So that’s what we get here! Gotham Academy’s version of a campfire story.

Olive, Pomeline, and eventually Professor Macpherson, all take turns telling tall tales of a smiling man, and it’s fun. The stories themselves are a little lack luster, but they serve their purpose. Experiencing these stories with the characters we’ve grown fond of over the past few months is what makes this issue feel worthwhile. Their reactions and interactions are on-point, and every story told by one of the girls plays into the idea that’s been teased in Endgame – that the Joker is immortal. Each story is a tale of horror that could easily be a story of the Joker. And just like that, this team manages to make this book feel more relevant than any other tie-in, because they are playing into the main theme of the source narrative. And the creative team was smart enough to bring on a different writer and artist for each story.

Pomeline’s Story
Writer & Artist – Clio Chiang
Pomeline’s story focuses on a child who purchases a mask that ends up being more than meets the eye. The story is probably my least favorite of the three, but there is a decent creepy factor – especially if objects like dolls scare you. The art is interesting as well – a distinct difference from the main art due to its water color look.

Spoiler

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MacPherson’s Story
Writer & Artist – Joy Ang
Professor MacPherson’s story features a sadistic jester that would wander the Scottish Highlands for villages to perform at, using the villagers as part of his entertainment… and in case you’re wondering, no, it wasn’t a pleasant experience for the participants. This was by far the most gruesome and creepy of the three stories, and the art was my favorite out of the entire book.

Spoiler

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Olive’s Story
Writer & Artist – Vera Brosgol
Olive’s story was interesting, because it was one that was told to her by her mother. When her mom was in high school, she had an experience with some other classmates that was similar to the outcome of playing Bloody Mary… minus all the blood. I don’t know why, but this story reminded me of Goosebumps/ Joker crossover. It took me back to my childhood.

Spoiler

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Unfortunately, Stokely’s art featuring our main characters is pretty cringe-worthy, and a big step down from what we’re used to! While Olive, Pomeline, Maps, and MacPherson are all recognizable, their visual presence is flat, and poorly drawn. For me it was a huge drop in quality, and hard to ignore. It’s never good when you turn to the second page and think, “Oh, wow…” with a negative connotation.

Spoiler

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Despite the art, and the fun nature of this issue though, nothing else is really offered up here that is worthwhile. It’s kind of like when you buy a movie and watch the deleted scenes, only to think, “That was ok. I’m glad it wasn’t in the movie though.” There’s nothing of substance to impact either of the books, aside from one reveal at the very end. Overall, my enjoyment from Gotham Academy: Endgame comes from my enjoyment of the characters. But I have to hand it to the writers for delivering a concept that makes sense and is a completely believable situation for this point in time in Gotham.

Recommended if:

  • You’re curious to see how Gotham Academy is dealing with the Joker problem.
  • You like campfire stories.
  • You’d pretty much read Gotham Academy’s characters.


Overall:
While this issue is enjoyable and a nice aside to Gotham Academy, it does take away from the intensity of Endgame while also serving as the worst delivery from this title. It’s not bad, but the fact that it arguably fell short in two major areas left me feeling a little hollow.

SCORE: 6.0/10