Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Gotham Academy Second Semester #3 Review and **SPOILERS**

Witch? That’s Rich

Plot: Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan & Karl Kerschl 
Dialogue: Brenden Fletcher 
Pencils: Adam Archer 
Inks: Sandra Hope 
Background Painting: Msassyk 
Colors: Serge LaPointe 
Breakdowns: Rob Haynes 
Letters: Steve Wands 
Cover: Karl Kerschl 
Cover Price: $3.99 
On Sale Date: November 9, 2016


It was right about this time of year during the first semester of school that my brain would turn to mush. My brain is primarily mush, anyway—all of ours are—but it would really become sodden and soggy with thoughts of the holidays and meals and presents and, most importantly, time off from school. I think this is why there are large, turkey-shaped gaps in my understanding of American history. Like, I know white folks landed on Plymouth Rock, and they were starving, and had a big meal with local Natives that included turkey? Anyway, don’t let your brain get soggy reading Gotham Academy Second Semester! There’s always a mystery afoot!
Explain It!

The lady in charge of Gotham Academy’s Witch Club, who is named Haxan from what I gather, has assembled her witches in the quad with books pilfered from within the Academy, in preparation of some spell that will “bring Gotham Academy to its knees!” Is that really a worthwhile goal? To put a private prep school under your thumb? Seems like a government agency or a successful company would yield more for you there. Eric the asthmatic kid sees this and, as usual, is freaking out and running around, and eventually finds himself in Pomeline’s dorm room, inhabited by Clayface’s daughter Katherine, who is in a fishbowl so she can relax. A witchified Maps comes into the room, takes Eric’s book, and Katherine sees the whole thing. Eric reveals himself and tries to stop Maps from removing his property, but she elbows him and he falls to the ground like a wimp, which, to be fair, he is. She takes off, and Eric is stopped from pursuing her by Pomeline, who appears with the rest of the gang, and goes berserk on Eric for being near her underwear drawer. Eric skedaddles and the crew becomes interested in a member of the Witch Club, standing there with a stack of books. Olive’s imaginary bad friend Amy pokes her head out into the hallway when no one is watching, so now she’ll be around when everyone’s got their backs to Olive for some reason.
The witch bolts and jumps down a garbage chute, so the Mystery Club splits up to meet her when she emerges topside at an escape hatch—met first by Pomeline and Colton. Pom removes her hat and sees she’s Amanda Lydecker, a name that means nothing to me offhand, but more importantly that by removing the hat the girl has regained her faculties! She seems to know nothing of what happened while she donned the bonnet, so of course any crimes committed can not be pursued in a Gotham City court of law. Inside the hat, Colton sees there’s a whole technological mammy-jammy that looks just like something that might control your mind, I suppose. Knowing that the Witch Club is actually the Mind-Controlled Slaves Club, the gang decides to split up into two teams: Pom and Colton will reverse-engineer the hat to find out where the signal is coming from, and Kyle, Olive and “Amy” will check Maps’ room for more clues. This doesn’t sit well with Colton, who has a crush on Kyle, a thing that I’m sure will play out down the line.
At Maps’ room—which I guess is also Pomeline’s and Katherine’s room? With a tuition like Gotham Academy has, you wouldn’t think they’d put three students in a room. Anyway, Katherine comes out of her fishbowl to reveal that she always knows where Maps is, because 1) she’s super creepy, and 2) she exchanged the ever-present flower in Maps’ hair for one made from her own clay body, which supports contention 1) she’s super creepy. Pomeline shows up to inform them that Colton was caught trying to use the school’s tech shop or whatever, but they’re too excited to follow Katherine’s clay sense into the woods, where Harrax is burning the books that the Witch Club stole from school. Eric tries to stop Maps from throwing his research notebook into the bonfire, but Harrax keeps him back with a push broom, which doesn’t have the same cache as the straw whisk version. Eventually, they start grabbing hats off of people, and find out that Harrax is actually Professor Pio, the English teacher! She was mad for some reason or another, and everyone has a good laugh, except for Colton who is now expelled from Gotham Academy!
Which is…not good, I guess? I mean, Colton has always been the “also ran” of the team, after Kyle. It goes, in order of importance: Maps, Olive, Pomeline, Kyle, that Man-Bat kid, Colton, and Katherine or whatever. I’ve about had it with this Amy business, once I figured out (aka Jim figured out) that she was a figment of Olive’s imagination, I lost all interest in her and her wicked ministrations. She makes Olive space out on the bonfire and see a ghostly version of her mom in it, which is just one of many annoying things about her. The art is fantastic and labored, but this story just didn’t grab me. It seemed fairly rote and poorly-developed. And plus, they messed with Maps. Don’t you ever mess with Maps.

Bits and Pieces:

The mysterious head of the Witch Club is revealed, and I'm not sure if I've seen her before in this book, or if I even care. The whole thing was sort of bland and contrived, and felt more like a Scooby-Doo? Where Are You? cartoon than a comic book. There are some tantalizing seeds sown for future issues, though, and I do appreciate the fact that this was a two-part story instead of some written-for-trade monster. Fans of the series will want to check it out.


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