Damian Wayne!!!!!!!!  That’s right, Damian Wayne is joining the cast of Gotham Academy!  Oh wait….no he’s not….he’s just here for this one issue. (sniffle sniffle)  Way to kill my buzz man.

For those of you who are regulars here at Batman-News, I’ll be the new reviewer for Gotham Academy, taking over from Joshua McDonald.  And what an issue to start reviewing on!  Of the cast of characters that grace the pages of this book, Mia Mizoguchi (Maps) is hands down my absolute favorite character.  And guess what?  This is a Maps-centric story.  How could this get any better?  Oh yeah…that’s right!  Damian Wayne is her partner in crime for this tale brought to us by Becky Cloonan & Brenden Fletcher and illustrated by Mingjue Helen Chen.

The basic premise of the plot is that Maps and Damian somehow get their hands stuck together by….”magic” (stuck together: picture a couple going for a walk and holding hands with fingers interlaced).  Yeah….Damian loves every minute of it…not.

hands    Careful Professor MacPherson, I think Damian is about to hit you.

While that might not sound like enough to fill a whole issue, the kids end up racing all over the school and interacting with a wide array of characters in order to find a cure for their predicament.  In the process, the real fun of the story unfolds: the clashing personalities of Damian and Maps.  These two couldn’t be more different than night and day.  Damian all sullen and arrogant, while Maps is the epitome of idealism and cheerfulness.  Maps ends up being her over the top childish self and Damian spares no opportunity to point out what a child she is being.  It’s even more amusing than what’s on the surface level, because I am fairly certain that Maps is older than Damian.

Coming into this story, I thought they were going to try and shoehorn in a young romance where Maps would develop a crush on Damian.  I couldn’t be more pleased with what actually happens.  Yes, Maps gets a crush alright, but not on Damian.  On all of his wonderful toys.

gunYep, Maps is Prince Charming in her fantasy, sweeping that grapple gun right of it’s…feet?

Yes, I said toys, as in plural.  He also gives her a Batarang.  “Whoa Whoa Whoa”, I hear some of you saying.  Are you telling me that he reveals his identity to her.  No….but I can see Damian being arrogant enough to not care if she did figure it out.  I mean, from his perspective, what exactly can she really prove anyway.  And even if she did say something to someone, she is just a child according to Damian, so who is going to believe her.  I also can’t really see Maps blabbing about it if she did know either.  She loves making up all these secret/exclusive clubs in her head.  And what is more exclusive than being one of the handful of people who is actually in on the Wayne secret.  No way she gives that up.  Not that any of that is even addressed. It is completely glossed over.  This is just the reasoning I worked out on my own to justify the actions of the characters.

What was my favorite part of the entire comic?  This:

  keaton

As I am reading this scene, I suddenly realize that I’m hearing it in Michael Keaton’s voice.  Then the Tim Burton fanfare starts blaring in my head.  Yep, this is word for word the dialogue spoken by Michael Keaton in the 1989 Batman movie.  Check it out for yourself.  It’s at 2:57 mark if you don’t want to watch the whole clip.  Fortunately for us, Maps isn’t the screamer that Vicki is and actually has the time of her life as she soars over campus.  Extra props goes to the fact that the grapple gun featured here is even movie accurate.

As I stated earlier, Mingjue Helen Chen handles art duties for this issue.  For those of you who are regulars of the Gotham Academy title, you’ll notice that the regular artist, Karl Kerschl, is no longer with us.  While I am definitely sad to see him go, I can’t really complain all that much because Chen’s work is equally beautiful in a different sort of way.  You see, while Kerschl’s style was reminiscent of Manga, Chen’s work looks exactly like Japanese watercolor to me.  So while the images generated by the artists might not look identical, the fact that they both present a style synonymous with Japan’s rich heritage of illustration, makes it a much more perfect fit in my opinion than if they had gone with something completely heterogeneous.

When DC announced a slew of new books for this month, the team here at Batman-News had to figure out which new books they wanted to take on and if anyone wanted to switch up their allotment.  Turns out, everyone was happy with their titles and fine with taking on the additional workload.  I think I’m the only one that got away with stealing a colleague’s title.  So I’d like to take a moment to thank Joshua McDonald for graciously donating Gotham Academy to me.  Not only did I want to be the reviewer for it since I love this comic, but it’s also the only comic that I buy that my wife reads as well (one time I came home from the comic shop and she went straight for my pile to find it).  I’m looking forward to having her read my reviews, and either agree with me or point out how incredibly wrong I was.  Maybe down the line I might even get her to contribute a comment or two to the reviews.  That could be fun.

Spoiler

  • I’m surprised that Damian would be so objectionable to the idea of magic.  After all, he has seen a lot of magic in his time.  Or are we calling the Lazarus pit magic like science?
  • Did anyone else notice that the police officer that Superman talks to in Batman/Superman#21, that was also released today, has the same last name as Maps: Mizoguchi.  Relative maybe?

Interesting Facts:

  • Bookworm is a character created for the 1966 Batman television show.  In this issue, Damian questions whether or not Scarlet is even his real name.  As a matter of fact, it is not, but was an alias he used.
  • Roddy McDowall is the actor responsible for bringing to life the character of Bookworm on the 1966 show, but this is not the only Batman character he has given life to.  Roddy McDowall also voiced The Mad Hatter on Batman: The Animated Series (1992).
  • The poem that is being recited by Bookworm throughout this issue is Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven (1845).  This is actually one of my favorite poems.  I was super excited to see it included here, and then on the very next page Damian called it useless drivel.  Damian just insulted me…  But you know what, an experience with Damian that doesn’t involve getting insulted is no true Damian experience, so I was all the happier for it.

Recommended if…

  • You’re a fan of Damian Wayne and all of his pompous posturing.
  • You’re a fan of Mia Mizoguchi (Maps).  She is the lead protagonist of this story.
  • Sticking these two together sounds like a blast to you.  (Unfortunately, it is just for this one story.)
  • You’re a fan of Japanese inspired art techniques.

Overall:

This is just straight up fun, and the juxtaposition of Maps and Damian together is comedy gold.  Don’t be a sourpuss like Damian, buy this comic and have yourself a laugh.

SCORE: 9 / 10