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Review: Gotham Academy #11


gothaOlive and Maps meet Red Robin in their quest to discover the secret behind Olive’s Mother’s mysterious disappearance in Gotham Academy #10.

 

Spoilers below.

 

Olive, Maps, Pomeline and Colton head to downtown Gotham under the guise of attending Kyle’s tennis match against Metropolis Academy. Their true goal is to find out more information about Olive’s Mother and whether or not she is the fire setting villain Calamity. As Kyle heads to his match, Pomeline and Colton go uptown to Pom’s Mom’s law office to look into Sybil Silverlock’s case file. Olive and Maps head downtown to City Hall to check out newspaper accounts of Calamity.

 

O&M break into City Hall through a roof window, scramble down a statue and make their way into the Records Room. Olive finds the Silverlock Family records and begins her examination. Maps keeps watch outside the room where she discovers Red Robin on a similar quest to find out about Calamity. He and Maps spend some special bonding time together.

 

RR tells her about the time the original Robin met with Calamity. Grayson was able to disable the pyro-villain who turned out to be Sybil Silverlock. With Sybil in Arkham, Batman helped her daughter, Olive, avoid the error of her Mother’s ways. Over the years they have kept Olive under a watchful eye.

 

Meanwhile Olive looks through generations of records of the Silverlock family. It turns out that many of them were also Calamitys and put in prison or mental wards. Olive asks herself if this is what her future holds when a voice answers “Yes”. It is Calamity.

 

Outside the records room, Red Robin and Maps see fire through the door. They rush into the room to see Olive and Calamity facing each other. Red Robin fights Calamity who gets distracted by Map’s well intentioned attempt at heroics which allows him to deliver several Batarangs into Calamity.

 

As Calamity disappears telling Olive that they will meet again, a metal tube of some sort falls to the ground. Olive finds it and wonders what it is. Maps says goodbye to Red Robin and calls in to the rest of the team. She is shocked to hear some bad news and they rush back to the tennis match.

 

It turns out that Kyle disappeared after his match and has been missing for hours. Colton breaks into Kyle’s locker looking for a clue. They find an old puzzle key which Olive recognizes as one to Arkham Asylum.

 

Until next time….

 

This story in this issue is a good old fashioned detective tale. The team is getting closer and closer to discovering the mystery behind Olive’s Mom and I have to say I am along for the ride. The pacing is deliberate but doesn’t get bogged down in needless detail. It is also terrific to see Red Robin. Since DC has a big focus on the Robin’s this year, we will be seeing them in all the different books and it was great to see him here. It felt organic and he was an important part of the plot rather than just a quick pass through.

 

I feel like the over arcing story of Sybil Silverlock is finally getting underway. We had a couple of monsters of the month with a werewolf and Clayface, which in my opinion was a distraction from the main story, but the team is finally getting their act together and we are making progress.

 

The standout character in Gotham Academy is clearly Maps. She has been the driver of so much of the plot with all of her plans and diagrams. Also, she can be funny in a little-kid-almost-annoying-but-not-quite way. Colton too is beginning to emerge as the brainy go to guy for breaking into things that are locked. While Olive is the lead of the comic, she is more the lonely tragic figure which doesn’t always leap off the page. I would like to see her evolve into a more complex figure than she has so far. I can say a similar thing about Pomeline, the seed of a good character is there but she needs more development.

 

As usual, Gotham Academy is one of the most beautiful comic books on the stands today. The title and credits page is a beautiful full page display of Serge LaPointe and Msassyk’s haunting reds and quiet greens of Gotham City at night. Karl Kerschl and Msassyk’s drawings are simple yet dynamic and in many cases poignant and soft when need be. There is great skill on display here.

 

I don’t want to neglect the flashback pages by Mingjue Helen Chen. The combination of the textures and expressions are powerful and soft simultaneously.

 

Karl Kerschl’s cover is a vibrant and kinetic image of Olive and Maps acrobating their way through a moody Gotham-scape. Maps’ tussled hair and shaggy shoelaces are prominent as are the girl’s clenched fists showing that they are ready for business.

 

Last month I rated the book lower than usual for the monster of the week quality of the stories, but this month with the tale back in full swing I am going to boost the score. I highly recommend this issue.

 

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