Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.
Warning: minor spoilers.
“This place can be lonely at times. But it can also be full of life, full of comfort and happiness and full of the best friends you could ever want in the world” – Olive
This week one new release caught my eye – Gotham Academy: Second Semester. It’s written by Karl Kerschl, Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, with art by Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, MSASSYK, Chris Sotomayor, and Serge LaPointe and the cover by Karl Kershl. I picked this as I was familiar with the Gotham Academy series through the Batman comics I’d never read any. Cloonan and Fletcher lead the story during the first semester of Gotham Academy and Fletcher also took part in the recent Batgirl run as well. As with Batgirl this comic from the get go feels like it isn’t aimed at the traditional, or ‘regular’ comic book reader (aka the 10 – 30 year old male, a category I am worryingly close to reaching the end of). The comic feels like it’s been written with a younger audience in mind, and with a lead teenage girl it appears to be trying to bring in a wider audience as Batgirl did. Something that should very much be welcomed into the industry.
The story follows Olive, living at the academy through the winter break with only a few teachers to keep her company. The place is large, creepy and full of mystery with old buildings where you rely on fire and candle light to get around at night. To Olive’s surprise a new roommate arrives – Amy, who isn’t exactly one for respecting the rules or keeping herself out of trouble. In an old academy like this, there’s plenty of trouble to get into. While exploring some of the off limit parts of the grounds they stumble across a mystery a fellow student has been looking into. One which hints at leading into the history of Gotham and some very dangerous people.
As you’d expect with a first issue this is very much and introduction to things. You get to know Olive as a person, she’s cautious and seems a little depressed having been without anyone her age and limited company all winter.
As for the art as a whole, it is done to a very high standard. Archer and Hope do an excellent job of adding the right touches of loneliness, tension or optimism to each page with high quality colouring throughout. The characters are full of expression which is clearly communicated through simply, yet expertly drawn, faces. The art is one of the real stand out factors in the comic for me.
As for what could have been done better – there are a couple of things that weren’t clear to me as a first time reader, such as what Olive’s status is in terms of a family (I assume she’s an orphan?) and this issue feels pretty self-contained for the most part. While it gives us the chance to get to know the setting and Olive, if someone were to start on issue #2 I think they’d pick things up well enough without needing to read this.
That aside, can Archer and Hope draw hands? As I’ve already raved about the art of course they can. As with some other artists hands aren’t used so much in conversation or as a tool of communication, at least that how it felt when the story focused on Olive. She seems to have her hands by her side most of the time. Which is a well-used tool as it communicates her uncertainty and an apparent lack of confidence in herself. As with the rest of the art, very good overall. 8.5/10 for hand drawing skills!
Score: 8.5 Secret Passages out of 10