The Ninjabot

Advance Review: Gotham Academy #4 (Spoiler-Free)

Posted on January 27, 2015 at 12:30 pm by Tyler Waterman

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Review: Gotham Academy #4

Written By: Becky Cloonan and Brendon Fletcher
Art By: Karl Kerschl
Colors By: Msassyk and Serge LaPointe
Letters By: Steve Wand

Review By: Tyler Waterman

I generally try to be open-minded when it comes to new comics. Too often, comic fans gripe about there being no original ideas, only to immediately dismiss new titles as being “too different.” However, with that being said, I admit I wasn’t receptive to the announcement of Gotham Academy. While I’ve imagined exploring many facets of Gotham, the halls of its private high school simply weren’t one of them. I did high school, it was fun, and I’ve since spent as little time as possible in them, fictional or otherwise. So, while I was intrigued by Arkham Manor, and totally sold on Gotham by Midnight, I assumed Gotham Academy would be the only new Gotham-centered title I’d be skipping.

Wow, was I ever wrong.

Lots of people are going to tell you Gotham Academy is like a CW show set in Gotham, and while their hearts are in the right place, their assessment is misleading. Teen dramas tend to focus on exactly that; the drama. Sure, people might be dying, but you can safely assume who’s bringing who to the dance is always going to get more screen time than stopping all that pesky murdering. While that kind of drama has a place in Gotham Academy, make no mistake about it: the mystery is the main attraction.

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What does it meeeean?? I need to knooooow!!

That’s due mainly to the fact that the mystery is just so dang good. Becky Cloonan and Brendon Fletcher are crafting a hybrid mystery/ghost story that’s a joy to read, because it does exactly what that kind of story should do; it keeps you wanting more. There are so many questions, and even when you answer one, two more take its place. It’s also a testament to both Cloonan and Fletcher’s talent that it’s impossible to tell who’s writing what in this book. These are two like-minded individuals working in perfect tandem, and it makes the story shine.

The only thing keeping me from giving the writing a perfect score on this review is Maps. Don’t get me wrong, I love Maps. How could you not love Maps? But at this point, I think we’ve established her geek cred; we’ve reached the point where I feel like every thing out of her mouth is an obscure geeky reference or some nod to nerddom, and it’s making her feel a bit one-dimensional. There has to be more to Maps than just Beholders and a love of swords, and I hope that starts to come through soon.

Along with the excellent writing comes the outstanding artistic talents of Karl Kerschl. Kerschl can be added to any comic you’d like and I’ll buy it… just throwing that out there, comic publishers. His work is clean and sharp, with an amazing range of expression for his characters, something essential to a story like this. The only flaw for me was the design of the Headmaster, who feels a bit over-the-top, but that’s almost offset by the surprise appearance at the end. I won’t spoil who it is here, but let me just say that Kerschl’s rendition of this particular character is one of the best in recent memory.

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Seriously, who hires “Dracula Ra’s al Ghul” to run their school?!

If you avoided Gotham Academy because you, like me, judged this book by its cover, stop it. Just stop it. Get to the comic shop tomorrow, buy this issue (and the three that came before it), read them, and then apologize to yourself for nearly missing a unique and satisfying book. Gotham Academy is something special, one of those books that everyone seems to complain doesn’t exist, then fails to support. Let’s not let Gotham Academy be one of those… mostly because I really, really need to know how this story ends!

Writing: 9 out of 10
Art: 9 out of 10
Presentation: 10 out of 10

Readability: Accessible for new readers, but mysteries are always best if you start at the beginning

Overall Score: 9 out of 10

Gotham Academy #4 releases January 28th, 2015, and is available digitally through comiXology or in print at a fine comic retailer near you.

Geek Legacy’s comic review system is based on three criteria. Both the writing and art each receive scores on a 1-10 scale. For writing, a 10 is the stuff of legends, while a 1 is legendarily bad. For art, a 10 is almost too beautiful to look at, while a 1 is also hard to look at, but not in a good way. Presentation refers to inks, lettering and layout, and is also graded on a 1-10 scale. Readability reflects how accessible it is to fans both new and old, and is strictly for reader awareness; it does not factor into the final score.

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