Monday, April 18, 2016

Gotham Academy #17 Review and **SPOILERS**

Satanic Panic

Written By: Brenden Fletcher, Michael Dialynas, David Petersen
Art By: Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Annie Wu, Serge LaPointe, Michael Dialynas, David Petersen
Letters By: Steve Wands
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: April 13, 2016


I could swear this was the last issue of Gotham Academy’s “Yearbook” arc, but no, there will be one more. Makes sense, since I think that will make five issues that fit so snugly into a trade paperback collection down the line, but for some reason I really thought this was it. If you thought the same, then allow me to inform you: we were wrong! There is, indeed, another issue left to “Yearbook,” and since I’ve liked it okay so far, that suits me just fine. There’s really no point to this preamble, since what follows is a recap and review of an anthology title, so let me tell you a little story from when I was in grade school: one time, I accidentally squirted a whole packet of ketchup onto some kid’s clean, white shirt during Assembly Day. How about that? I think I was six or seven years old. Uh, and then a super spooky ghost revealed itself!!! No…no, it didn’t, the kid was just pissed off at me and I recall crying. No ketchup scares in this issue of Gotham Academy, though! Keep readin’ if you think I’m lyin’!

Explain It!

Maps and Olive are tearing apart their dorm room, looking for Maps’ scrapbook which has been the totem around which this story arc has revolved. Damien Wayne made off with it last issue, and it’s especially important, says Maps, because it contains sensitive information that gals like Pomeline wouldn’t like out in the world, for instance this story…:scene blurs out and fades into a memory drawn by Annie Wu, which is how I wish all of my memories were drawn: Black Canary is playing Gotham Academy, but Maps and the Gang are there to see one-time student Heathcliff, who dropped out of the Academy in order to road manage the band. Maps is practically mooning over Heathcliff, but Olive pulls him aside and tells him to talk to his ex-girlfriend Pomeline, who is being creepy and hanging out along in some gothic hallway that definitely contains no fewer than three ghosts. Heathcliff goes over to have an awkward conversation, then Pomeline takes him to the campus graveyard because Pomeline is a freak. Heathcliff entices her to the Black Canary concert, where he gives her an exclusive mix tape, and is about to perform a song he wrote for Pomeline, but she runs away and, back at her dorm, clasps the tape to her chest in a bittersweet display of teenage emotion.

Our next story finds Maps and Olive skulking around the halls of Gotham Academy one evening, as they are wont to do, when they come across a hideous, red-eyed cat-being that looks very aggressive. It is holding Klarion’s First Spell Book, which Maps endeavors to snatch away until the cat-monster bears down on them and then jumps through a window into the stormy night. The cat-demon makes its way to the ruins of Arkham Asylum, where Klarion the Witch Boy waits for the cat-beast, now shrunk to a more normal-looking tabby cat, to return the book. In the spell book, Klarion finds what he was looking for: a crayon drawing of Batman with Klarion as Robin and his cat Teekl also wearing a cowl. Somehow, this is the last component he needs to subdue the Batman, and with that Klarion turns onto a colony of bats that flutter away through a barred window, even though you could just walk out anywhere since the entire place is essentially a hill of rubble open to the air.

The final tale takes place in 1984, when Wally, Peter, Glen and Davey, who comprise a club centered around the Serpents & Spells role-playing game that bears no resemblance to Dungeons & Dragons whatsoever, find a secret, spooky broom closet in the Academy that they then use to play their game. In the 1980s, role-playing games like this would have been blamed for introducing Satan into the everyday life of children—which was insane—yet in this case it seems to have some merit since as they play, shadowy forms appear that usurp the boys and they are never seen again. And this is the very room in which Maps and Olive find themselves, hot on trail of Maps’ scrapbook. Maps notes that a book-shaped space exists on the surface of the only table in the room, but they may be even closer to the scrapbook than they think because Damian is hiding on the ceiling!

If you like anthology stories, then I can’t imagine you’d dislike this. Each one is pretty entertaining and the artwork, though varied in style, is top-notch throughout. I was especially impressed by the work of David Petersen, I wish his section was a little longer. But everyone involved did a good job, and I did like seeing what will probably be Annie Wu’s final time on Black Canary (even though it was more about the kids from Gotham Academy.) If you don’t like anthologies, then you should probably avoid this arc, though if you’ve followed it to this point, then you might as well wrap it up since there’s only one more issue. That’s how they get ya: lure you in with great artwork and make you want to stay for the entertaining stories. Those devious monsters!

Bits and Pieces:

Some nice stories and some great artwork equals a really worthwhile comic book. The connecting thread of this clip show is a little thin, but it doesn't have to be anything too dramatic for what is basically a light-hearted romp through the spooky side of Gotham City and the DCU. Frankly, if this was the format for Gotham Academy going forward, I'd probably be okay with it. But if it isn't, then it's still a good time, well worth checking out (from the beginning of this arc) if you're curious about the students of Gotham City's third-creepiest institute of learning.


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