Gotham Academy: Second Semester #9 review

Gotham Academy SS 9

Olive is on the rampage in Gotham City tracking down people from her hit-list, and the kids of Gotham Academy are abandoning the school in droves.

The fact that we are taking the story away from the school adds an entirely new layer to the narrative.  That’s not to say we haven’t ventured from the school before, but this time it feels more pertinent.  As if we are traveling into entirely new territory.  Seeing as how most of the Gotham Academy stories have revolved around unraveling little mysteries at the school, this direction isn’t only a departure from locale, but also from the typical structure this comic usually adheres to.  I think that doing this kind of throws the reader off balance, and given that this is the final story arc for Gotham Academy, I think that’s a great idea.  It adds an element of uncertainty that’s rather exhilarating, keeping you on your toes and questioning your assumptions.

The story is split into two distinct sections; Olive and Harvey in Gotham, and the rest of the cast at the Academy.

Grackles gotta stick together, kid.

Olives story starts off exactly as you expect, she visits the first name on her list, but it doesn’t take long for the story to start throwing in some unexpected twists and turns.  Olive ends up burning down the Dent ancestral home in order to lure Harvey into a trap.  But once he arrives, they form a kind of kinship over their mutual pasts.  You see, both her and Harvey were ‘burned’ by Gotham.  Once Harvey sees her list of names, he realizes that there are certain people on there he wouldn’t mind seeing eliminated either.  And since she is already going after them, why not take advantage of the situation and side with a vengeful flame-wielding spirit.

The only criticism I have of Harvey’s portrayal is that he seemed a little too nice.  I was fine with how he acted after his coin flip decided he was going to help Olive, but before that, he was just a little too concerned about the well being of a person who had just burned down his house.  I mean, he was about to shoot here in the face without a coin flip.  Where did all that rage go?  I guess it could be because Olive got Harvey reminiscing about Gilda, so his nicer half was more dominant at that moment.  So yes, there is a plausible answer, but I was nevertheless thrown off for a moment during my initial read.

That’s pretty much the extent of what happens in the Olive/Harvey section of the book.  Despite the fact that both halves of the story presented in this comic are given equal page counts, the Olive/Harvey half is a real quick read since it’s more straightforward and contains less characters, and therefore less dialogue to read.

Detective Club just hit a new all-time low.

That’s right, the cast is dropping like flies.  Obviously Olive isn’t around, and shortly into the story, Kyle leaves too.  He gets an offer from another school and ends up being quite blunt about Olive and her relationship with him and the rest of the group.  Kyle was never my favorite character, as I felt he was sorely underdeveloped, but seeing him just walk out of everybody’s lives like that was rather heartbreaking.

Down two members, Detective Club carries on!  Maps, Pomeline, and Colton set off to find Amity’s bones, hoping they are the crux to freeing Olive.  But while at the bottom of a well, they are sealed in by three mysterious figures.  In an attempt to escape, Colton uses hydrofluoric acid on the sarcophagus’ inner wall (which is what caps the well).  While reading the story for the first time, I didn’t think much of this.  But then, someone I know who is a chemist read the story.  They told me that while hydrofluoric acid could eat through rock, you would never just be casually carrying it around in a squirt bottle and then spray it out all willy-nilly while being completely unprotected.  Apparently this is one of the stronger acids in existence.  When you use it in the laboratory, you wear shoulder length gloves…and a face shield…and a full body apron…and all kinds of protection.  Not to mention that it’s dealt with under a vented hood.  If you get even a drop of this stuff on you, it can eat through your skin…dissolving your bones and spreading through other body tissues.  Essentially….you’re dead.  Even breathing the fumes can be lethal.  You do not want to mess with this stuff, period.  Learning this, it does kind of put a damper on the scene.  But hey….I guess that’s the difference between comic science and reality.  So yeah, while I’m letting that one slide, it’s worth knowing that it’s fairly ludicrous.

Maps, Maps, MAPS!

Maps is in rare form throughout this issue.  That’s just her highlight reel up above.  Rest assured, there are plenty more Maps gems beyond those pictured.

SHOW SPOILER ▼

Interesting Facts:

  • This is a reference to a group of characters from a 1958 Batman story.  Obviously, the creative team is using some liberty to replace the vulture character with a raven, but I thin it makes sense given the atmosphere surrounding Gotham Academy.  A Raven is just more apropos.

 

  • In the original story, The Terrible Trio’s secret hideout was a lighthouse.  Is this just a subtle nod to that, or is something more sinister going on here.  Perhaps Harvey Dent initiated the secret society of the Shark/Fox/Raven when he was at Gotham Academy.  If so, did he just take Olive to their lair?  Maybe we think he is helping her, but really, he is about to serve her up to The Terrible Trio!

  • The creative team on Gotham Academy really seem to love The Gray Ghost.  This isn’t the first time they have referenced him, so, it’s also not the first time he has showed up in my “interesting facts” section.  If you aren’t aware, Gray Ghost was a character who appeared on Batman: The Animated Series.  Bruce told him that he was one of his inspirations.  Consequently, Gray Ghost is The Animated Series’ analog to The Shadow, who was the real world inspiration for Batman.

Recommended if…

  • You’re into revenge tales.
  • You’ve been following Gotham Academy and absolutely must see how this all ends.
  • You like seeing obscure Batman characters brought to light.
  • You love Maps , Maps, MAPS!  

Overall:

This marks the beginning of the end.  The first part of the final Gotham Academy story.  We are only one chapter in and we already have revenge, death traps, and a secret society.  This is my kind of story!  On top of that, the humor is more abundant in this issue than in the preceding chapters, and we get some genuinely moving character moments along with some surprise twists and turns.  While not as earth-shatteringly awesome as the last few issues were, we are still in setup-mode for the finale.  So, I have no doubt that things will only improve from here.

SCORE: 8.5 / 10

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