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Review: Gotham Academy Annual #1

gotham academyThe Detective Club is divided over the mystery of Olive’s illness and the ruined chapel. Will Pomeline’s vampire theory win out or is Colton right about Professor Powers. Find out in Gotham Academy Annual #1.


If you read on you will surely be spoilt.


Olive dreams that she is in the Chapel tower room and pulls an arrow from out of the face of a grandfather clock. Suddenly a glowing skeleton hand reaches out of the clock for her and…. she wakes up.


Just as she sits up in bed a flash of lightning hits the Chapel tower and she and Maps see a caped figure on the roof of the building. She and Maps head out in the rain to the ruined chapel and find Pomeline and Colton also there standing in the rain. The figure jumps out of the chapel carrying a large coffin-like box. Olive suddenly faints away with a fever.


Two days later the Detective Club is assembled outside the damaged chapel where Professor MacPherson is arranging a clean up detail. They discuss Olive’s sickness and Pomeline declares that Olive suffers from a Vampire bite. Pom notes that another classmate Jen Thompson had bite marks on her neck and is also sick. She believes that the large box the caped figure pulled out of the Chapel on that rainy night was a coffin.


Colton disagrees with Pomeline’s theory. He believes that the new visiting lecturer Professor Derek Powers has a grudge against the school and was carrying a coffin with a dead body inside it. Colton and Pom fight and split the Club up as they go off to prove their respective theories. Maps stays behind and watches Colton send little Warren McGinnis off to spy on Pomeline and Tristan.


Colton and Kyle break into Professor Powers’ classroom. Inside, they find a the private school records of Warren McGinnis. They hear a rhythmic beating from under the floorboards. As they begin to pull up the floor they are interrupted by Professor Powers. After they run off there is an eerie glow off of the teacher’s face.


In the cemetery Pomeline and Tristan search for Vampire clues. Tristan, who suffers from the Langstrom virus, discovers little Warren McGinnis following them. They chase the younger student away.


Colton and Kyle are joined by Maps in the basement underneath Professor Powers’ classroom. They get into the ceiling and find that it drips blood. Maps heads up into the ceiling and hears people in the classroom above. The three find and pull down a grandfather clock that was hidden up there. The beating sound is coming from inside the timepiece. They are interrupted by a green glowing skeleton who commands them to return the clock.


Back in the cemetery Pomeline and Tristan hear a scream. They rush out of the graveyard to find Warren McGinnis laying on the ground with bite marks in his neck. Warren wakes up with fangs and attacks Pom. Tristan fights him off and Pomeline hits him with a Holy Water Grenade. They chase the escaping little demon but run into a caped Vampire who protects Warren.


Colton, Kyle and Maps run off to the graveyard with the clock. They recognize the glowing skeleton as Professor Powers. They open the clock and find that there is an actual heart inside. Maps remembers Olive’s recurring dream of removing an arrow from the clock face and that a glowing skeleton emerged. The glowing skeleton catches up with the trio. Maps crops her flashlight into the clock and goes after it. She falls into the clock and disappears.


Meanwhile Pomeline and Tristan fight the Vampire named Gustav Decobra. Poms tries to stake him but it doesn’t work, he has removed his heart and hidden it in the clock. The Vampire looks up to see Kyle and Colton running through the woods with the aforementioned timepiece. Decobra flys off in pursuit of the two but Pomeline grabs his legs and slows him down.


Colton and Kyle see Warren and take him with them as they are caught by the glowing skeleton. Skeleton Powers reveals that many years from now Warren will have a son that is responsible for his condition. He has come back from the future in the Grandfather Clock Time Machine to kill McGinnis, though doesn’t realize that the little guy is now a vampire. Pomeline finally lets go of the flying vampire and lands on Power’s back. As she and Colton bicker over who’s theory was right Powers and Decobra argue over the clock and fight it out. They realize that both Colton and Pomeline’s theories were correct.


Maps emerges from the clock having journeyed to the future. It turns out that Powers is a super villain from the future called Blight. They get Powers back into the clock and send him to the future and put a crossbow bolt into the heart of the clock face destroying the bloodsucker.


The next morning, Olive wakes up feeling much better. The gang give her a garlic necklace and explain their adventures.


Sometimes Gotham Academy can be a very serious comic book, full of sadness and regret. This issue, however, is a Saturday matinee farce. The plot by writers Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan, has two mysteries intertwined instead of one. It is ridiculous but somehow works. This issue, and the series in general, has been expanding the characters of Pomeline and Colton. Their competition in this issue was very entertaining. Olive is almost a no-show in this issue, though she is the cool and tragic heart of Gotham Academy it is smart to let the more whimsical characters take center stage. Maps is a fan favorite and she is used here sparingly to good effect.


The art is by Adam Archer, Msassyk, Michael Dialynas, Chris Wildgoose, inks by Sandra Hope, Msassyk, Dialynas and Wildgoose, and colors by Serve LaPointe, Msassyk and Dialynas. As you can imagine there is some inconsistency at work in the issue. Some of it is up to the high standards of last year’s Gotham Academy but other pages are a little weakly drawn. Also, on some pages the colors are occasionally washed out, which might be for effect but the overall feeling is a little blah.


The issue is $4.99 and has 38 story pages.


Overall, Gotham Academy is my favorite current comic book. It has the highest artistic standards and some of my favorite characters. The writing team is doing a great job developing the kids and I can’t wait for the new Semester to begin in earnest. Because of the inconsistencies in art and very high expectations I have for this comic book I am going to be a little harsh with my rating. If any other book was this good I’d give it a much higher rating, but I expect Gotham Academy to be the gold standard every time out, because it can be. I’m sure I’ll make up for it when school begins.


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