Review – Gotham Academy vol. 2: Calamity TP (DC Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer(s): Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan
Artist(s): Mingjue Helen Chen, Karl Kerschl
Release Date: 16th March, 2016

The second volume of DC’s critically acclaimed GOTHAM ACADEMY sees Olive Silverlock haunted by the ghosts of her past and distancing herself somewhat from the rest of the “Detective Club” as she tries to deal with her conflicted feelings and doubts. Packed with twists, turns, werewolves, Robins and copious amounts of sleuthing, this latest collection manages to capitalize on the strong start of the series with a far more focused, more emotionally engaging arc.

Something that greatly benefits this second volume is the fact that, by this point, Cloonan and Fletcher have already well established their main cast of characters. This frees them up to explore the intriguing inter-group relationships a little more, as well as allowing them to focus more heavily on the overarching story itself rather than continually having to introduce a stream of new faces to the mix. While some of the characters perhaps come off as a little one-dimensional, the writers do an admirable job of trying to shake things up, keeping things feeling fresh by occasionally having characters acting against type, implying a lot more depth than their exteriors would otherwise suggest.

The series is also buoyed by the artistic one-two punch of Mingjue Helen Chen and Karl Kerschl, who give the pages a life and energy to them even in spite of the frequent forays into shadowy corners and basements. Both have their own distinctive styles but share a unifying, almost Manga-esque aesthetic that gives Gotham Academy a look that’s like nothing else on the shelves today – from the “big two”, at least.

However, while the writing and artwork remain undoubtedly strong, for me, the continued success of Gotham Academy essentially boils down to one word. Maps. Perhaps one of the most truly lovable comic creations in recent years, she gives the series a sense of humour and enthusiasm that elevates it above the rest of the young adult fare on the shelves today. I’ve always somewhat balked at the recent influx of geeky, wide-eyed and starstruck comic characters, but with Mia Mizoguchi, this team has managed to capture lightning in a bottle, creating a character with an infectious sense of humour and an innate likeability that keeps the book feeling fun even during its most angst-ridden moments.

In terms of guest cameos, the creative team is batting a solid five-hundred here, with Red Robin’s appearance feeling forced and unnecessary when compared to Damian Wayne’s fleeting studentship at the Academy, an arrival which provides several moments of pure entertainment gold. That said, while I’ve never been a huge fan of ‘guest appearances’, there’s undoubtedly a huge amount of potential with this particular cast of characters, and I’m definitely on board with the prospect of seeing more familiar faces showing up in the halls of Gotham Academy.

Overall then, while its sights are aimed firmly at the young adult demographic – a group which has been sorely under-represented in the world of comics for quite some time – there’s just enough broad appeal here to ensure that readers of all ages and tastes will get at least something out of this series. Mixing humour, angst and wide-eyed adventure into a cocktail that J.K. Rowling herself would be proud of, GOTHAM ACADEMY remains one of the most consistently fun titles in DC’s arsenal.

Rating: 4/5.

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The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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