Gotham Academy was very popular when it first came out. Everyone raved about how awesome it was, but then the series slowly died down as the issues kept going. Eventually, everyone dropped it..or so it seems. Well, I finally took the plunge and read the graphic novel. I can’t say that it lived up to the hype for me…at all, but it’s a fairly decent comic. The art and characters just hold it back a little, but the art’s the main problem.
Gotham City is tired of always being super gloomy and gritty. They don’t deserve that reputation when they have such a nice school right? (Bullies aside….) This comic series focuses on the school and one of the students in it, Olive. Olive mysteriously vanished during the summer and lost her memories of what happened. Only a few people seem to know what happened to her, but they’re not spilling the beans and Olive always has to dash off so she can’t interrogate anyone. Bruce Wayne may hold all of the answers, but how can she talk to a billionaire while at this school? For now, Olive won’t worry about it and she’ll just try to enjoy the school life. Try being the key word.
Perhaps it is due to the memory loss, but Olive isn’t a very nice person anymore. Her friends say so anyway. One of her friends is Maps, a fairly nice kid who’s always very eager and optimistic. Maps is easily the best kid in the comic although she could go downhill fast if she starts to take the situation with her brother and Olive personally. If Olive decides to pull the friendzone card, Maps just needs to roll with it. I won’t judge her on actions that have not yet happened though so I’ll give her a brief slide for now. Maps helps to make the comic fun as without her, the school would be a little lifeless.
Olive, Maps, and some other classmates decide to have fun poking around the parts of the school that are forbidden to them. It’s what these kids do for fun after all! They manage to find Killer Croc which was interesting. I’m tempted to say that Killer Croc is completely out of character here, but I haven’t officially seen him in the New 52 yet so maybe not. Either way, he is looking after Olive a little during her stay at the school because he got along with her mother. Although, he may not ultimately get a say in that since Batman is on the prowl. Batman’s role is very small as the comic is trying not to rely on star power yet so he just has a cameo along with Bruce Wayne. He looks like the bad guy to an extent, but you have to remember that Killer Croc is a wanted felon for a reason. He may act pleasant on the outside, but he’s really a very sinister fellow at times.
The ending of the comic was pretty intense as Damian got a quick cameo and outsmarted the other kids. Given his professional training, Damian would be very overpowered in this series. To an extent, I can see why people wouldn’t want him in this school. He will certainly change the dynamic of the comic and also shift away a good amount of focus from Olive. Still, I think this may have been what the series needed to get a little bit of a boost.
As mentioned earlier, I do think that the art really hurts the comic. People seem to love the art, which continues to show the gap between critically praised art and my kind of art. Batman, Walking Dead, Attack on Titan, I consider all of those to have bad to terrible art. Instead, look at Superman, Justice League, and All New All Different Avengers for the art that really sells a title for me. If this volume had that level of art, it would be a completely different experience. I dunno, I just find it really sub par here and the art just isn’t clear or bright enough to really snag your attention. There also isn’t a deep plot yet so it can’t get away with a darker art style like Secret Avengers can.
One subplot that is definitely not good so far is Olive’s plot with Maps’ brother. The guy can’t really take a hint and at least the two are basically solo acts at the moment, but how long will that last? Romance is the last thing that this title needed as the plot threatens to turn the comic into your average school story with romance. That’s definitely not the way that I would have written the script. The romance plot continues to thicken though as a Teenaged Man Bat shows up for some more drama. If you don’t see the parrallels to Twilight yet, you will! It was also a very anticlimactic way to end Olive’s fire plot from her origin.
Sure, we’ll likely find out more about that, but it really doesn’t explain why she has such an aversion to Bats. I just don’t see how the fire memory would be traumatic after the flashback that we got. Olive may end up getting fire powers or something, which would be neat though. The comic hints that she may also have a split personality, which would explain things, but the mystery will likely unfold more as the series goes on. The first arc essentially ended here as we were introduced to Olive’s story. The other classmates aside from Maps don’t have much character or personality yet so we’ll see if they ever end up becoming likable. I doubt it to be honest since they all seem shady or just not very ethical, but anything’s possible I suppose.
Overall, I wouldn’t call it a bad comic, but Gotham Academy’s not a very good comic either. It’s essentially middle of the road, although I would have given it a solid six had the art not been so underwhelming. The series has a lot of potential though. As long as it steers away from the romance and we maybe get an action scene once in a while, I’ll be satisfied. Hopefully, Olive’s mystery continues to be interesting and doesn’t end in an anti climactic way. Damian’s inclusion to the series will also change things and the writers will just have to be careful about how he is portrayed here. If handled right, he could definitely give the series a boost. If you’re looking for a happy school story, then check this one out. It may be up your alley. If you’re looking for a story with a little more charisma…check out
My Little Pony Pony Tales. Superman Unchained.