Olive is stuck at Gotham Academy over holiday break while the rest of the Detective Club are home with their families. Surely a lonely staycation at school isn’t going to afford any opportunities for our silver-haired protagonist to get up to any mischief. Right?
When all the rumblings started on social media about Rebirth, whether it was a hard reboot or a soft relaunch, one of the first things I thought about was what it would mean for Gotham Academy. Luckily, my anxiety about the state of the series proved to be unfounded, and if Gotham Academy: Second Semester #1 is any evidence, then this peculiar blend of Scooby Doo and Morning Glories is approaching its second volume with an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Essentially all of the long term creators of the series are back in one role or another and have been augmented by the inclusion of a few faces a bit more recent to the book.
The issue starts with a direct call-back to the very first issue of Gotham Academy, the exact same outside shot of the school updated with snow to match the season, as well as a bit of Olive’s inner monologue pondering the mysteries of the academy. The similarities passed this point are more subtle, but still present. Olive promptly meets someone with a bad attitude, a photo is reminisced upon, and a bout of trespassing ensues. Our heroine even has to save a friend’s skin again when the aforementioned wrongful entry goes awry. The enjoyable story is held back only by the absence of most of the established cast, without whom a sliver of the book’s abundant life is missing.
Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, and Karl Kerschl all have story credits, while Fletcher and Kerschl did the actual scripting. If anyone understands what Gotham Academy is supposed to be, it’s these guys. Having been involved since the beginning, they’ve provided a consistently amazing title for their fans. There are literally no safer hands for the Detective Club to be in. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the Yearbook story arc and all the talent behind it, but if there was one DC book that absolutely did not need a long term creative shake-up, it was Gotham Academy.
It appears that going forward Adam Archer will be taking over the pencil work from Kerschl, and Sandra Hope will be handling inks. You might remember them from their contributions to the series starting back around issue #13 during the Robin War tie-in. If you don’t, you could be forgiven by virtue of how seamlessly their art styles fit into the aesthetic of the book. Due in no small part, I’m sure, to the continued presence of Serge Lapointe on colors and MSASSYK’s background paintings. On top of that, having Chris Sotomayor contribute colors won’t ever hurt a book.
The concept of discussing the individual merits of each artist at work here seems daunting to say the least. Each is contributing to the coherency and beauty of the book to such a high degree. I can say that visiting MSASSYK’s website and looking at her paintings on their own is astounding, but adding the characters and their individual colors to those backgrounds elevates the whole package into something truly marvelous. I would put this up against what I consider to be the best looking books on the market any day.
One of the most consistently impressive DC titles is back and as good as ever. With engaging storytelling and top-shelf art, Gotham Academy: Second Semester #1 is a must read for long time fans and newcomers alike. While there might be books that look as good as Gotham Academy, there are none that look better.
- A (mostly) familiar creative team returns to kick off an exciting second volume
- Some of the best art in current comics
- Creative is functioning like a well-oiled machine
- I miss the rest of the gang