Gotham Academy #15 review

Gotham Academy 15

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Here we are with Part Two of the Yearbook arc…and it’s only remotely better than Part One.  For those of you who have not read any of my previous reviews for this title, I’ve never done anything but shower it with praise.  Even when a book here or there was slightly lacking, I always tried to focus on the best stuff because I knew the questionable stuff was simply a little hiccup in the title’s overall excellence.  Unfortunately, I can’t say that anymore.  Two strikes in a row with two more potential lemons waiting in the wings, and I am truly more fearful for this book’s future than I ever was before.  Personally, I’m not sure that giving us 4 issues in a row of filler was the best way to attract new readers while simultaneously holding on to loyal fans.  I so badly want this series to continue and get back to the main plot, but if this is the kind of stories that we can look forward to in the future, I’d rather it just got cancelled now as opposed to stringing me along for nothing.

This particular book is split into 4 sections.  We get the contemporary stuff that accounts for 3 pages, a 4 page staff party, a 10 page Dungeons and Dragons  Serpents and Spells narrative, and a 3 page story about a dog.  The only part of this that even remotely piqued my interest was the D&D story.  But we will get to the specifics of the interludes in a moment.  I’m going to tackle the contemporary stuff first.

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Maybe I’m blanking on this, but I don’t recall them ever bonding with that dog.

Having said that, there isn’t much to really discuss.  These vignettes are little more than one page breaks between each story solely used to introduce the next segment.  Nothing really happens in them at all.  It’s really a shame because it wastes the main creative teams potential, using them instead as simple narrators to stories that ultimately don’t matter.  Speaking of which…


 

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Colton and Maps eavesdrop on a staff party in order to dig up juicy bits for their book.  The punchline for this particular segment is that the staff parties are boring, which is unfortunately demonstrated to us over the length of the story.  This may have been one of those instances where tell don’t show would have been an acceptable exception to the rule.  Boring the characters is one thing, but boring the reader is a real gamble.  I recall other Batman stories where Robin would complain about how boring stakeouts were, but you never actually sat through an entire issue where all they did was sit on a roof in silence and watch people go by till their mark arrived.  That would be death on the page.

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Maybe if we had something interesting to look at, it would have staved off the boredom, but the illustrations are pretty gnarly.  I mean, that dude with the bugged out eyes is supposed to be Kirk Langstrom.  If they had not called him that, I never would have known.  Egghead and Bookworm are instantaneously recognizable, but I think that has more to do with their iconographic looks than the artist’s skill.  The only positive to this story is all the Batman66 references, but since most of those are likely lost on half the audience, I can’t really count them as an all encompassing positive.


 

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This ended up being my favorite story, but even then, only parts of it were really any good.  The art is handled by Eduardo Medeiros and Rafael Albuquerque.  While Albuquerque’s stuff is wonderful, Medeiros’ work was not to my taste.

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Hey Maps…you have an idea why the hallucination sequence looks more realistic than the “real” parts?

Last review, I was itching to see them incorporate D&D, so I was pretty excited when I turned the page and found this:

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Although, I did have a problem with the story being slightly confusing to follow.  When we start off, we are introduced to a talking bird.  I thought it was the magic raven from Gotham Academy #7.  Especially when the lie that the Crow tells makes it seem like someone is trapped in the body of a bird.   It looked to me like the raven was inviting them on a new magical adventure. When it turned out that he was simply a pre-hallucination to the full-fledged one, it really threw me off.  I understand that the crow is the way they are seeing Scarecrow in their mind, but it was still confusing at first.  The other thing that threw me off was Olive’s ability to find this mystery book.  While it does make sense that, as the girls traveled through their hallucination, they were in actuality traveling through the school and guiding Scarecrow to the book he wanted.

What puzzles me is why Olive was able to guide him to it in the first place… Unless, we are implying that Olive could find the locket because it was her mother’s…??!!  As in, Headmaster Hammer is Olive’s father and his wife was Calamity!!!!???   If that is actually true, I might have to reevaluate my opinions of these stories.  Maybe there are hidden secrets within them that tell a larger story, and that will only become evident once we can see the whole picture.


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This appears to be another pretty meaningless story.  While the art is wonderful, handled by series regular Mingjue Helen Chen, the narrative does absolutely nothing for me.  Only one panel from this actually caught my attention.

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While this arc may have gotten away from the point of Gotham Academy, at least the creative team hasn’t abandoned their penchant for including tons of references in their work.  As Ham enters his hidey-hole, we spot Joker chattering teeth, a container of Renuyu produced by Dagget Industries, and Ace The Bat-Hound’s water bowl.

Tristan Grey makes an appearance in Ham’s story, pointing out that if Ham could talk, he would probably have a lot to say about the school and its residence.  Since Grey can turn into an animal, it got me to wonder if his comment might have been a sly hint that he actually could communicate with Ham.  Makes me wonder if this will pop up again down the line.


Interesting Facts:

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  • Vincent Price played Egghead on Batman66 while Roddy McDowall was the Bookworm.

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  • Here we have a shot of Matt Hagen from Batman: The Animated Series holding the Renuyu formula that can be spotted in the Hammin’ Around story.  Love the attention to detail that Mingjue Helen Chen showed by having the “A” inside the “D”.

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  • Ace first appeared back in 1955.  While the majority of his appearances can be narrowed down to the 50s and 60s, you can find Ace scattered all throughout Batman’s extensive history.

Recommended if…

  • You want to show your support for Gotham Academy till they get back on track.
  • You like when a book makes plenty of references to other Batman stories.
  • You want to read a Dungeons & Dragons inspired story.
  • You’re a fan of Rafael Albuquerque’s art.

Overall:

Better than part one, but still a far cry from what Gotham Academy has become synonymous with.  While we aren’t getting the mystery solving and character development that has been the rock this book was built on, this lot of yearbook stories seemed to have a greater tie to past events than the first round did.  It was also made a little more clear what kind of stories the team was looking for, instead of just giving us a smattering of utter randomness.  All in all, it’s still a pretty mixed bag.

SCORE: 4.5 / 10

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