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Gotham Academy Second Semester is so all over the place that it’s difficult to decide where to even start.  In and of itself, this is little more than setup for events to come.  And while it’s important to lay groundwork for the story ahead, it feels very disjointed and unnatural in it’s presentation.  Maybe even a little forced at times.  I’m not trying to say I don’t want to see what happens next.  I’m very intrigued when it comes to the underlying story that Gotham Academy has been slowly turning out, but I simply felt that this was a very rocky start to get things back in motion after such a long break from the series.  I realize that last month’s issue was actually the first part of Second Semester, but it seemed to me like more of an interlude connecting the two series rather than the actual beginning, so to speak.

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Starting off, the biggest thing that bothered me about this story was that the team actually went looking for a mystery.  Now maybe this has happened before, but it’s always seemed to me that they’ve just been going about their business and stumbled upon mysteries.  Never actually went actively looking for them when there weren’t any evident ones to follow.  It’s one of those elements that I felt was a little too forced when the creative team could have easily made it flow more naturally into the story.

It also bothered me that Olive was so absent from the story.  I totally understand why, and that it was an intentional choice that was made by the creative team to drive a wedge between Maps and Olive to create drama.  But personally, I see Gotham Academy as being Olive’s story.  In the beginning, everything was from Olive’s perspective, and what we saw of the other characters was what Olive saw and thought about them.  It almost seems to me that the creative team is aware of the fact that Maps has become a fan favorite and are trying to make her more centric to the story.  But I don’t really think that works.  I liked how she interjected herself into other people’s stories.  As a lead, I don’t really think she is as entertaining as when she is butting into someone else’s tale.  It feels to me like part of her charm is in adding to what is going on, not in driving the story.

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Is it just me or has Pomeline become more and more awesome as the series has progressed?

While Olive’s absence served the story, it seemed incredibly odd to me that after the crap Amy pulled last issue that Olive would still even be willing to spend time with her.  Olive’s excuses for it were rather weak as well.  Amy hardly seems the shy vulnerable type that would need support.  If she really wanted friends I don’t think she would have any problem introducing herself to people, and besides that, she doesn’t seem like the type that even needs or wants friends anyway.  In regards to Amy, I think she will actually be a nice addition to the book.  In the very beginning of Gotham Academy, it seemed that Pomeline was being developed as an antagonist for Olive, but that quickly went away.  As such, I think it is nice to have a character coming in that might fill that role.  Nothing major mind you.  Just someone around who might throw an occasional wrench in the works and add a little bit of drama to the book.

Another thing that was peculiar to me were all the scenes that seemed to be included merely to remind us of existing side characters and then not actually do anything with them.  There are plenty to speak of, but the inclusion of Katherine seemed the most peculiar to me.  She shows up for a single page, and it seems like something is going to happen with her, but then they never go back to her later in the story.  Maybe that’s for a future issue, but it made me think I accidentally skipped a page or something when we didn’t go back to her.  I think the same sentiment actually extends to a lot of the side character scenes that were include in this story.  It’s difficult to tell if they were merely included to remind us of past stories or if they have pertinent roles in the upcoming narrative.  Perhaps the best way to say it is that it felt crowded.  There was so much stuff going on that I wasn’t really sure what to focus on.  What was important and what was just there as fan service.  And if all of that ends up being relevant to the upcoming story, then that is a lot of prelude to dump on us all at once.

The fact that Kyle Mizoguchi got a large chunk of the story didn’t do much to help my already waning enthusiasm as I find him to be the most un-engaging and least defined character in the group.  Stereotypically speaking, he is the handsome jock.  But his character has never really been allowed to develop much more beyond that.  The most I can say about him is that he is Maps’ brother and Olive’s ex.  And really, I’m not entirely sure what he brings to the team.  To me, he has always just kind of been there in the background with the rest of the group providing the actual entertainment and relevance.

Another formula that seems to have been tossed aside is Gotham Academy’s penchant for including one-and-done stories in each issue.  There was always Olive’s tale running in the background of every issue, but the A plot of each story would usually be presented and concluded all within the same issue.  It made Gotham Academy very reader friendly.  You could pick up any issue, and while you wouldn’t be given the answer to the bigger mystery behind Gotham Academy, you’d almost always get a complete story.  While this story does end in a cliffhanger that promises more to come, this issue itself feels like it isn’t really even telling a story at all.  It’s just a bunch of stuff that is happening.

Spoiler

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  • Is it just me, or does this look like a Disney Princess trying to play dress-up as a Disney Villain?

Recommended if…

  • You’ve been reading Gotham Academy since the very beginning and want to continue to unravel the mystery that this quaint little book has been hiding from us.

Overall:

Second Semester part 2 is a mismatch of everything and then the kitchen sink.  With so much going on, a clear story never really develops till the very end.  Before that, it seems to all be nothing more than fan service scenes put in place to remind us of the past.  While I’m all for supporting Gotham Academy because I love the ambiance of the book and the amalgamation of universes it mashes together, this just wasn’t a very strong issue for me.  While this story is acceptable, I am judging it against other Gotham Academy stories, and as such, it just doesn’t measure up.

SCORE: 5 / 10