Saturday, 27 June 2015

Gotham Academy Vol 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher

Gotham Academy Vol 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher and illustrated by Karl Kerschl is the first volume in a completely new series. I haven't read very much DC stuff before, so going into this I wasn't sure if I would be missing some background knowledge (I wasn't). I also thought it was going to be an academy for little superheroes, but as far as I can tell they were all relatively normal teenagers (which didn't make it a bad book).

Gotham City’s most prestigious prep school is a very strange place. It’s got a spooky campus, oddball teachers, and rich benefactors always dropping by...like that weirdo Bruce Wayne. But nothing is as strange as the students! Like, what’s up with Olive Silverlock? Is she crazy or what? Where did she go last summer? And what’s the deal with her creepy mom? And how come that freshman Maps is always following her around? And is she still going out with Kyle? P.S. Did you hear the rumor about the ghost in the North Hall?!

This was a fun read. The story starts off with Olive, a second year student, being told to show new student Maps around the campus. They're sort of friends, but Olive has some boyfriendish history with Maps's brother and is generally not happy to be back at school with everyone wondering what she did over the summer. At this point I found myself wondering if I had missed something by not reading some other earlier comic. I have to admit, if it had been an ordinary book or not part of a larger comics universe I probably wouldn't have questioned the slow reveal of her past, but as it was I wasn't sure if there was something else I should know until later. As it happens, we do end up finding out everything we need to know within this volume. The mystery is supposed to be mysterious and it's resolved by the time we get to the end. I really enjoyed this complete experience. It was refreshing to realise that no, I hadn't missed anything, and that I was holding a complete story in my hand.

So, if it's not a school for superheroes, what is it? Well an almost-ordinary boarding school, funded by Bruce Wayne, housed in a creepy old set of buildings (of course), that may or may not be haunted. Olive and friends find themselves on the trail of a ghost. Is it real? Is it a practical joke? How many school mysteries will they unearth in the process? What really happened over the summer and how does Arkham Asylum fit in with anything? You'll just have to read Gotham Academy to find out.

I really liked this YA, girl-centred book. I highly recommend it to fans of comics and YA stories. You do not need to know anything about the DC universe to enjoy it (not even the secret identity of Batman) because it's a new series with new characters. A great read.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: June 2015, DC Comics
Series: Gotham Academy Vol 1 of ongoing series, containing issues #1–6
Format read: eARC of rather disappointing quality
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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