Does everyone have their parental permission slips signed? Good, because we are off to Gotham City to have a field trip adventure that only the cast of Gotham Academy could deliver!
Independence! For some kids, field trips were their first experience in controlled freedom. We all ventured out into the real world with our parents, and have even gone places without them like school or daycare, but this was the first time you were without real supervision in the big bad world. The specifics may differ from individual to individual, like summer camp, but I think we all know what I mean. That rush of being in control and not having someone looking over your shoulder that you had to be subservient to. Now imagine that rush, but couple it with the inherent dangers involved in simply being in Gotham City. Try and keep that level of intensity in mind as you read the story. There is a real sense of urgency, excitement, and trepidation as the team sets about completing their assigned tasks in a limited window of opportunity.
The story basically revolves around the kids breaking into the hall of records to secure Olive’s family history. If I said nothing more than that, I would be surprised if this didn’t at least peak your interest. But if that isn’t enough for you, we also get a guest appearance from Red Robin, a Flashback involving Batman and Richard’s Robin, a HUGE puzzle piece involving Olive’s history, and Maps. That last one is not to be underestimated. Mia Mizoguchi is the primary reason I tune into Gotham Academy month after month. Seeing as how her role in the comic has become more encompassing, I’d say it’s clear that the creative team knows which side their bread is buttered on. Mia is where it’s at. Her humor is always funny but never feels forced. I’d love to highlight some of her better moments from the issue, but the truth is, they are all equally awesome. I’d basically just be recounting the entire tale anyway, so it’s better that you just read it for yourself. In my opinion, Maps ends up carrying this entire story, which leads me to my next point…
Olive Silverlock is….kind of a boring character. I’ve been meaning to say this for awhile, but never really had an appropriate opportunity to slip it in. I’m not saying she is a bad character. She just isn’t as compelling as the rest of the cast. Now maybe that’s because everyone else has such specific character traits that make them stand out, but without the ensemble cast to hold our interest and keep us entertained, I’m not sure Olive would be up to the challenge. I’ve considered the fact that she is kind of a blank slate as an intentional move on the creative teams part. Without conflicting idiosyncrasy to get in the way, we can more readily see ourselves in her shoes. While my pointing this out might have a negative tone to it, it’s more just an observation than anything. I think the real thing that keeps Olive interesting isn’t who she is, but what we don’t know about her. Once she comes into her own, it will be interesting to see how the character develops, but for now, she seems like she is just being lead through her own story by everyone around her instead of actively choosing a path. I just wish she was a little more than only our avatar into this world.
The only other thing that came close to being questionable was Red Robin’s appearance. We never actually figure out why Red Robin was at the Hall of Records. While it is a convenient coincidence, it isn’t impossible to believe that he would be there researching an unrelated case, so I call no foul.
As always, art is brought to us by the ever talented Karl Kerschl with flashback art provided by Mingjue Helen Chen, the artist who handled the Damian issue. I usually don’t like when multiple artists contribute to the same issue, but when done in this capacity, it works. Having the additional artist handle a flashback or hallucination scene means you have an in world explanation for the altered appearance of the art. The other thing that caught my eye is the fact that both artist’s work appeared on the same page. Usually artists handle entire pages so that combining the separate work in the editing process is made easier. I appreciate the extra effort they put forth into transition the art on the same page. It felt more like a fade into the next scene instead of a slap in the face when you flip the page and see entirely new art.
- How did I know that was the rest of the line? Once again, the creative team on Gotham Academy honors Batman: The Animated Series. This excerpt was right out of “On Leather Wings”, the very first episode of The Animated Series. I recall the premiere quite vividly. It was a Sunday night and the whole family was over at my Grandfather’s for dinner. I remember thinking how special it was that the episode was airing in the evening. Cartoons usually aired on Saturday mornings or in the after school hours, but this was at night. Night was when adult shows were on TV. This told me right off that the network was taking it seriously, even if it was animated, and I knew I was in for a wild ride. I even taped the episode on VHS so that I could watch it again and again. Yep, this was before DVDs and DVRs.
- These Dungeon&Dragon references always put a smile on my face. Lawful-Good is one of the 9 alignment options available in character creation. It’s basically a quick way to identify the archetypal morality of the character. Lawful-Good is essentially the hero who obeys all the laws, tells the truth, keeps his word, and helps old ladies cross the street.
- That’s definitely a Carrie Kelley pose if I ever saw one. Considering this month is honoring the 75th anniversary of Robin, I find this to be a very appropriate homage without being blatant. Gotham Academy….keeping things classy since October 2014.
- You like getting two for the price of one. Karl Kerschl and Mingjue Helen Chen are both on call for art duties this time out.
- You Love Maps!
- You want to attend a field trip….Gotham style.
- You love Maps!
- You like Gotham Academy’s penchant for including guest appearances and B:TAS references.
- You Love Maps!
- You have been waiting for more concrete information regarding Olive’s past. Seriously, this is probably the most relevant exposition we have had on her since day one.
- You Love Maps!
- I’m not joking about the Maps thing either. There isn’t a panel with her in it that isn’t awesome or amusing in some way.
A guest appearance by Red Robin, a field trip turned “mission impossible” by Maps, answers to questions you have been wondering about since the premiere issue, and a pinch of self-deprecation. This book just has it all! The formula that the creative team adheres to is becoming addictive: a solid story in 20 pages that bring you answers while also inviting new questions, all while keeping you entertained throughout. Go team Maps! Detective Club assemble!
SCORE: 9.5 / 10