As issues of Gotham Academy go, this was somewhat underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still wildly entertaining and engaging, but I’ve put Gotham Academy on a pedestal that this issue just couldn’t reach.
Everything that has happened up till now, was building to this moment. This installment was a culmination of a year’s worth of storytelling, and in my opinion, it failed to live up to my expectations. It hands us perfunctory answers to our questions and an extremely minimal hook to pull us back for more. I understand that the mystery behind Olive is a primary driving force for the title, and to reveal everything could potential diminish readership once they get the answers they want and leave, but holding back at this juncture seems just as damaging to the future of the book. At this point, it seems that the mystery is being used as a dangling carrot instead of being used to support a powerful conclusion.
I do realize that this will not be the final time we delve into Olive’s lineage, but for the foreseeable future, it is the end we have to live with. Going forward, the book is offering up a Robin War tie-in, and what is being referred to as the Yearbook story line (a bunch of short stories depicting the “gang’s past and present shenanigans”). While both sound, and will most likely be entertaining, they provide a clear break in the focus on Olive and define issue 12 as the definitive endcap of the first arc. As an ending to a long running story line, it just didn’t give enough payoff to loyal readers.
If I had to summarize this story in a single sentence, it would be: The gang tracks the recently abducted Kyle Mizoguchi to the remains of Arkham Asylum where Olive Silverlock confronts the villain. While perfectly acceptable as endings go, it just seemed all too easy to me. As if the creative team had something else in mind but wrapped things up short to make way for Robin War. An example would be the puzzle key that the gang was in possession of. It just seemed so elaborate. When it ends up being nothing more than the key to Kyle’s cell, I was extremely let down. Surely something that intricate must be the key to a secret chamber below Arkham that held the accumulated lore to an ancient order of fire druids….or something crazy like that. Maybe down the line, it will serve some other purpose, but here, its use was just a let down. My feelings on the key situation can be transplanted to basically evaluate much of the rest of the plot. An expectation of elaborateness answered with glaring simplicity.
In a way, it really is a classic Scooby-Doo ending, i.e., an ending where our monster turns out to be nothing more than a person in a mask and all the supernatural elements can be explained away through some practical means or another. While this kind of ending can be and at times is actually used quite effectively, it just felt like a cop out to me. I realize that much of my criticism hinges on personal preference, and that some will find the exact things I disliked a positive, but I will leave that for you to decide.
So, what elements stood out as positive in this issue? Do I really need to say Maps at this point, or should that just be a given. Whether it’s the exchange from above, calling Olive m’lady, or faking a hysterical emotional breakdown to avoid police questioning; Maps is the single most entertaining element this entire series has had to offer. I love Maps! Maps, Maps, Maps Maps Maps!
Colton Rivera also stood out to me in this particular issue. I’m not sure if this was always intended by the creative team, but Colton gives off a very Ferris Bueller vibe that I am just now picking up on. He has always had those character signature sunglasses and attitude, but couple those with the inclusion of the souped-up sports car that he stole from the Headmaster Hammer and it just screamed “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” to me.
The biggest positive for this issue is the art provided by Karl Kerschl.
He instills such a sense of mood in his work that it’s almost palpable. You can almost feel the crispness in the air, the dank smell of earth, and the unpleasant feeling of breathing in musty dust particles. It all serves to contribute to a general sense of uneasiness that chills the very flesh.
Note to the Editors:
This issue didn’t feature any credits. (At least digitally. Haven’t picked up the physical copy yet.)
- You love Maps! Maps, Maps, Maps Maps Maps!
- You can’t get enough of Karl Kerschl’s moody environments.
- You want to see how the first Arc of Gotham Academy wraps up.
The series in general, and this issue in specific, all build to a crescendo that fails to deliver a plot resolution that is any thing more than just acceptable. While the very final moments may have fallen flat in my view, the rest of the story was graced with impeccable art, lively characters, and engaging dialogue. On top of that, the creative team managed to put forth a story with building tension that was so driving, it almost demanded you read it at breakneck speeds to relieve your sense of dread and satiate your curiosity. While not the masterpiece I was expecting, it’s still highly worth your time.
SCORE: 7.5 / 10