Published on August 5th, 2015 | by Carli Spina
Gotham Academy Volume 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy
Authors: Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher
Illustrator: Karl Kersche
Publisher: DC Comics
Though Batman and the many related characters in the DC comic universe are perennial favorites, they can be unapproachable to new fans and are not traditionally geared towards younger readers. The new Gotham Academy series turns both of these facts on their head by creating an entirely new cast of characters that exist in the Gotham City that so many comics fans know and love.
Created by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschel, this series features a young and diverse cast of central characters that feels as though it could fit within the traditional Gotham City but whose members are completely new. Throughout the series preexisting characters, including Batman himself, appear or are alluded to, but the story belongs to the central group of young students at Gotham Academy, a school that many readers have compared to Hogwarts. The book focuses on Olive Silverlock, a fifteen-year-old student who disappeared over the summer under mysterious circumstances. From the very start of the story, Olive is drawn into the mysteries of her school from investigating the ghost who may or may not be lurking in North Hall to trying to figure out what is going on with her mysterious classmate. All along the way she is joined by Maps Mizoguchi, a younger student at the school who is the sister of Olive’s boyfriend (or is that ex-boyfriend?).
At its heart, Gotham Academy is a mystery series, and the creators do an excellent job of ensuring that every element of the books contributes to this mystery from the style of the art to the text. In the hands of lesser writers and artists, this book could have felt like a cheap carbon copy of Harry Potter or even Scooby Doo in some ways, but this creative team makes sure the story not only feels fresh and new but also is hugely engaging. Elements from the existing Batman mythology is subtly woven in throughout this volume and elsewhere in the series making the Gotham City setting more than incidental without allowing it to overpower the rest of the story elements. In this first volume in the series, the school and characters are introduced and several important story elements are wrapped up in a satisfying manner, but each question that is answered leads seamlessly deeper into the mysteries that surround Olive and Gotham Academy.
The artwork brings the characters and the entire Gotham Academy campus to vivid life. With bright colors and a fun style, this is a comic that will draw in readers who see it on your shelf or flip through its pages. I particularly appreciated how well thought out each character’s looks and physical attributes were. Characters remain consistent throughout the volume, which lends them a believability and continuity that isn’t always found in a new series.
This is truly an all ages title. It will appeal to younger readers who will relate to the students who are at the center of the story, but with its stellar artwork and strong storytelling, this series will also impress long-term comics fans. It is sure to fly off of your library’s shelves.