So far, Gotham Academy is a great series that balances fun, mystery and an overall optimistic feel in an otherwise very dark Gotham City. At least in the New DC Universe, it’s easily the most unique of the Batman franchise books. Although in the last few issues, the series has grown a bit darker with Olive Silverback’s mother passing, and the reveal that her mother is Calamity, a villain with fire powers of some kind. This issue brings back the balance that made the early issues work so well, while also giving us the students’ first “field trip”.
Written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, Gotham Academy 11 takes place sometime after the last issue. While Kyle is off to a tennis match against another school, the rest of Olive’s gang splits up and search for details about Calamity, after learning that she might still be alive somehow. Maps brings her usual sense of optimism, and she alone makes this comic a joy to read. Here, we learn more about Calamity and how the name could directly affect Olive in the future. The mystery adds a touch of darkness to an otherwise light-hearted issue. This issue also feels more focused than the last few, which touched on too many plotlines at once and felt a bit fractured, although they are still at least ok. Even Red Robin’s appearance doesn’t distract too much from the main plot; in fact he adds to the main action while also having some fun interactions with Maps.
The art by Karl Kerschl, Msassyk and Mingjue Helen Chen is fantastic. In a lot of ways the comic looks like an anime in the best possible ways. The backgrounds are full of details. There’s the crowded bus with a good variety of students, almost realistic looking fire during the fight scene and a well-drawn map as created by, well … Maps. The best image is a spread of Downtown Gotham City, complete with skyscrapers, traffic on the roads, blimps shining lights downward and even the Batman symbol in the sky. Even though the different art styles are spread throughout the issue, they blend well together. Serge Lapointe and Msassyk handle the colours, and it’s also fantastic. Even though the comic takes place at night and is often a bit dark, there’s still a great variety of colours, making this comic appealing to the eye.
After a few issues where this series felt a bit overcrowded with plots, Gotham Academy 11 feels focused again, making for an overall brilliant comic. If a series in a Gotham City boarding school that mixes high-school drama with a mystery sounds interesting, pick this up. Even though this is the 11th issue, everything you need to know is explained fairly well.