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I think that Gotham Academy has lost the magic that once had me under its spell.

Two of the biggest things that Gotham Academy always had going for it were a heavy dose of mystery and an abundance of exemplary character work.  Unfortunately, both of these elements are severely missing from this issue.  Sure, Colton Rivera has some character development of sorts, but we’ll get to that clunkily handled scene later on.

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The only area in which this book still preforms to my expectations is in its delivery of beautiful backdrops for the characters to inhabit.  Looking at the blue and purple hues of spaces like Maps’ and Pomeline’s room or the machine shop, I can’t help but be lulled into a false sense of security.  There’s something that I find incredibly calming and inviting about the color pallet.  Something that, while beguiling, can’t entirely hide the fact that we are in a foreboding place.  The juxtaposition of colors and imagery has always set this book apart, and thankfully, that is at least still the case.  I was also particularly fond of this cross-section:

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There’s just something about cross-sections, especially ones with dotted follow lines, that impart a whimsicalness to any story that I just can’t resist.

Aside from my opinion on the art, I don’t have any other compliments to dole out.  While I hardly have high praise for this specific story, it doesn’t mean it fails in delivering the minimum that any story should have.  Although I’m not terribly interested in the narrative, the structure of the plot is still acceptable and there aren’t any weird leaps in logic or goofy plot holes.  It’s just uninspired, basic, and boring.  It’s an action fest with little to no depth.  And it’s not even clever about the action.

The dialogue on the other hand leaves something major to be desired.  Multiple times throughout the story, characters say what they are off to do.  I’m going here.  Let’s go there.  I’m here for my friend.  Let’s help your brother.  It all feels so clunky and unnatural.

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See how awkward that is?

There’s actually a line from Amy that falls into this category too but I’m giving it two strikes with the red pen.  Why?  Amy is all like, “I’m with you ,Olive!”  But then her character isn’t shown anywhere on the cross-sectional accompanying Olive and Kyle even though she said she was going with Olive and they showed her entering the secret stairwell.  Pay attention people.

So…here is my biggest quandary from the issue.  Colton is gay??  Understand, I have no problem with the character being gay.  I have a problem with it coming completely out of left field.  Have I not been paying attention and this was hinted at before?  I’m just confused.  And if this was the character’s coming-out moment, couldn’t it have been handled more smoothly.  It feels like they just threw it out there without really giving it the time and space it deserved.

The end of the book is also super goofy.  We find out who is responsible but we don’t learn anything else.  Not the whys.  Not the hows.  It just happened, and we are supposed to be ok with that.  But it’s not like there hasn’t been some precedent for keeping the kids in the dark.  So I guess I have to give it a pass.  But considering how much of this book was a let down, it would have been nice to have gotten some kind of prize at the finish line instead of more disappointment.

Odds and Ends:

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  • So, the story opens with this dialogue box.  And what I should be concentrating on is the story at hand.  But unfortunately, the only thing I had going through my mind thanks to this…was Doctor Seuss.
  • This is completely random, but is anybody familiar with Tweek from South Park.  One of Eric’s facial expressions reminded me of Tweek and then I started reading Eric’s dialogue in Tweek’s voice.  Like I said, random.  But it really kind of worked.

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  • Look…this comic is set in Gotham.  You can’t show me a mind controlling hat and not expect me to think Mad Hatter.  That’s totally what I like to call “leading the audience”.

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  • This is the only panel in the book that gave me a chuckle.

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  • Evan?  Is there a character named Evan?  Did she mean Eric?  Whatever…who cares.
Spoiler

  • On the last page Colton takes off his glasses and he has a black eye.  Is Colton being abused by a family member?  Is that why he always wears his sunglasses?  Not as a fashion statement, but to hide his mistreatment.  It’s kind of a disturbing thought.  The idea that a book about Scooby-Doo style mysteries is about to probe the ghastly world of child abuse.  Heavier material than I would have expected.  Then again, Olive’s story is pretty messed up too.
  • Are we back to teasing Calamity again?  After the way issue #12 ended, they’d better give us something more substantial this time around.

Recommended if…

  • You’re willing to spend your last ounce of built up goodwill garnered from previous issues of magnificence.

Overall:

As comics go, this wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read, but as issues of Gotham Academy go, it was pretty bad.  Maybe bad isn’t the right word.  More like uninspired.  Although at times it does have sloppy dialogue and unnatural transitions.  Basically, it’s getting harder and harder to make excuses for this book.  Perhaps I simply need to face the fact that Gotham Academy has seen its best stories come and go and there’s simply nothing awe-inspiring to look forward to.  I’ll keep sticking with the book for awhile.  But they are starting to skate on some incredibly thin ice.  If something doesn’t happen soon, I’m going to start looking at this book as a chore instead of a pleasure.

SCORE: 4 / 10