This series is a breath of fresh air for the Batman franchise. Written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, this series about a boarding school in Gotham City meshes teenage drama, a supernatural mystery and fun. While I enjoyed the first three issues, they didn’t convince me to stick with it. This issue did.
Gotham Academy 3 ended with a group of students entering a taped off building on campus, only to find a hand reaching out of a pit and Maps shouting “Run.” Instead of having an action scene, GA4 starts off the next morning, with two of the girls deciding that wherever that hand came from, it wasn’t a ghost. The first half of the issue deals with several plot threads, one being that the headmaster seems to suspect Olive of breaking in. The rest of the comic continues the main mystery of whether the academy has ghosts or not while also hinting more at whatever is up with Olive’s life. The scenes where Olive and Maps interrogates a boy who drew certain symbols are adorable, especially with when Maps plays the bad cop. After a couple amusing moments and a bit of drama the issue ends with, well … I shouldn’t spoil it.
The art by Karl Kerschl is delightful. In a lot of ways it resembles an animated TV show, with smooth lines, exaggerated expressions and bright appealing colours. There’s a lot more detail than the average animated show though, whether it’s the great lighting techniques, the varying bricks on the outside of the building or the various antiques in the headmaster’s office.
Part of what makes this series work is all the intrigue behind everything, and that includes Olive herself. Even with all the red herrings, one still has to wonder if the academy really is haunted. This story can go in so many different directions and it’ll be hard to wait until issue 5 to see what happens next. If a story about a school in Gotham City that may or may not be haunted interests you, check this out.