Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Gotham Academy Second Semester #2 Review and **SPOILERS**

The Witch Club Credo: Be Prepared…for Mind Control!

Script: Brenden Fletcher
Story: Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan & Karl Kerschl
Pencils: Adam Archer
Inks: Sandra Hope
Background Painting: Msassyk
Colors: Serge Lapointe
Breakdowns: Bob Haynes
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover: Karl Kerschl
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: October 12, 2016


When my friends that have kids tell me about how school is run today, I feel like I’ve just come off the Oregon Trail. A middle school nearby gave all of its seventh-graders tablet computers to use until graduation. Kids entering college now create new texts using licensed material instead of having to purchase used books at exorbitant rates. And of course, e-mail—everything in school seems to happen over e-mail these days, students are turning in papers and getting homework and doing all types of education-related things via internet transfer. When I was a kid, if you stayed home sick, it meant you got to skip the homework! Now, there’s no respite. But on the other hand, you can play Candy Crush in study hall. Anyway, none of this seems to be a problem at Gotham Academy, where everything is frozen in the 19th Century. Let’s go hang out with the Man-Bats and ghosts in tri-cornered hats, shall we?

Explain It! 

After last month’s troubling issue, that featured Olive Silverlock being very naughty at the behest of her imaginary friend, the second semester can now start in earnest. And do you know what that means? MAPS MIZOGUCHI IS BACK! That’s right! She bounds into this issue with all of her uncontainable enthusiasm and cheer and buoyant charm, which she has to tone down right now because Olive’s roommate Amy, who doesn’t actually exist, is sleeping. Look, it’s complicated. Let’s just say that when have the opportunity to get your own dorm room at sleepaway school, you’ll come up with any excuse. Maps hushes up per Olive’s insistence, but while strolling away informs her that there’s a surprise waiting for her in class. Oh yeah, class! You have to go to those things at school, don’t you? Olive having left, Imaginary Amy is free to wake up and act like a total bitch about Maps, and then beg Olive to hang out with her after class. This doesn’t sit well with Pomeline, who is in said class, along with Colton, some nameless kids, and MAPS! That’s the big surprise! Smarty Maps is in second-year English with Olive and other select members of the Detective Club. Just then, Mr. Scarlet introduces himself as an replacement for Professor Pio who is taking some mysterious personal time. This is a job for the Detective Club!

Speaking of which, it’s time for this semester’s first meeting of said Detective Club, conveniently held during lunch hour in a cafeteria with decidedly gothic chairs. I mean, each one of those chairs must cost five grand apiece. I understand that most of the school’s pupils come from impossibly wealthy families, but I think they’d rather their money be spent in better ways than on super expensive lunchroom seating. Anyway, Maps in all of her awesomeness has made presents for everyone in the Detective Club—little dolls of each member! From anyone else, that would be creepy. Actually, it is flat out creepy, but not without it’s charm. Though Maps has made everyone vulnerable to Voodoo possession. Maps wants to begin solving the mystery of Professor Pio’s sabbatical, but Olive says she can’t stay—she promised to meet Amy. This sort of annoys everyone, but the bell rings so they disperse anyway. On her way out, Maps gives Eric, the asthmatic kid from last issue, a doll of his own. Pomeline spies what he’s jotting down on his notebook, so she follows him out of the cafeteria—he’s taking notes on the same Arkham symbol that so plagued the group in their very first story arc! And was also resuscitated last issue. Pomeline straight up jacks Eric’s notebook from him and splits, because she’s got juice like that.

Meanwhile, Kyle the tennis star is waiting for Evan, the would-be tennis star, because Kyle agreed to give him some pointers. Problem is, he never showed up to the courts. This is especially odd because Kyle had seen him seconds earlier in the locker room. Coach Humphreys, still coping with being injected with Man-Bat serum, says there are supposed to be a bunch of kids there today, but they’ve gone missing. No time to worry about that now, because here’s Maps! Walking past Olive room and…she in there talking to Amy. Sheesh. Maps keeps stepping on and bumps into Katherine, Clayface’s daughter and Maps’ roommate. Katherine says Maps’ mom sent a fishbowl, and Maps figures its so Katherine can keep her together when she’s feeling goopy. Aw, what are mom’s for but to be there when you lose your form?

Later, Maps is putting up posters advertising the Detective Club (though I didn’t know they were looking for new members) when she finds posters from another club—the Witch Club—which just won’t do. Not because they’re witches but because they are a competing club. That’s that gang mentality! She tears down the poster, but is caught by the Witch Club, who indicate themselves handily by wearing witch-style hats. They ignore her and move silently into the woods—as if they were mind-controlled!—so Maps tears their poster down again. Her brother Kyle shows up, and says he’s looking for Evan, who happened to be one of the witches that zoned by moments ago. Kyle tells maps to round up the crew and head into the woods; there’s gonna be a rumble! Instead, some shadowy witch figure knocks him out with a push broom and he’s found by Maps just lying on the ground, unconscious. Incensed, Maps follows the tracks into the woods and finds a mysterious house where the Witch Club is meeting. Kyle eventually wakes up and heads back to campus to round up the troops, and as they head out to find Maps, the reader sees that she is already possessed and part of the Witch Club, even going so far as to wear a stupid hat!

This issue was sort of like “Maps’ walkabout,” and there are certainly worse characters to follow around for the day. Now that Amy not being real is a known factor, thanks to the inimitable genius of Jim Werner, and reinforced by evidence in this issue, interactions between her and Olive have lost all meaning. I suppose she might be a ghost, or some kind of mental projection from Olive’s evil side, but the point is she is not real, so I just sort of wish she’d piss off and let the Detective Club get back to detecting. The art is glorious as it always is in this series, looks like stills from a great-looking cartoon. But in this particular case, that great-looking cartoon would be pretty boring to watch. Sort of like a Disney movie.

Bits and Pieces:

This issue is very Maps Mizoguchi-centered, which is a relief after the previous issue that barely featured her at all! While there are lots of cute moments and some groundwork is laid for future stories, the whole thing is rather dull. The shocking conclusion isn't shocking at all, and the perceived threat to the school's integrity doesn't translate. I guess there are worse comics out there: ones that don't feature Maps Mizoguchi at all.

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