Both the quest to understand the secrets of Gotham Academy and Olive’s personal problems come to a terrifying head in Gotham Academy Second Semester #7.
Splitting spoilers below…
Last month Eric, dressed as the Symbolist, caused Tristan to fall from the sarcophagus’ descending platform. Olive, watching from above, is enraged at Eric for harming Tristan. Amy suggests that Eric is like Batman, a killer. Olive jumps down onto the platform and throws Eric down into the depths. All the members of the Detective Club are shocked at her drastic action. Olive blames Amy for getting her to do it.
No one knows what Olive is talking about. How could Amy have told her to do this? They have never seen nor met her. Olive is confused, Amy is right there with them. Or she was. Hey, where is Amy anyway?
Olive now realizes that Amy was a figment of her imagination. All of the heartless things that she remembered Amy doing Olive actually did. In shock at this terrible realization Olive begins to burst into flames and jumps off the platform into a side passage.
Suddenly, Tristan flys up to the platform. He has saved Eric’s life as well. Tristan takes Eric to Headmaster Hammer while Pomeline and Colton decide to follow the trail on the Wedgewood House maps. The rest of the gang decide to find Olive. As they leave they are being watched by Mr. Scarlet.
Olive lands in the cemetery in the snow. She meets Professor MacPherson. She tries to explain about Amy but runs off. MacPherson realizes that Olive needs help. Olive goes back to her dorm room and sees that all of Amy’s belongings are gone. Amy shows up and Olive throws a lamp at her that goes through Amy who is incorporeal. Amy points out all of the terrible things Olive has done that she blamed on Amy.
Pomeline and Colton arrive at a large underground. There is a skeleton in motley against a pillar. On top of the pillar is “The Book of Gotham”. Pomeline proclaims that she wishes her Father was here to see this. She reads some of the book and realizes that it is an account of one Amity Arkham and was written by her daughter Beatrice Silverlock. Poms realizes that Olive is related to Amity Arkham. Mr. Scarlett arrives and hits Pom and Colton with some sleeping dust and takes off with the book.
Back in Olive’s dorm room Amy reveals that her real name is Amity Arkham and Olive runs off looking for help. She goes to the stables and finds Professor MacPherson talking about Olive with Batman. MacPherson and Batman agree that Olive looks to be surrendering to the spirit of Amity Arkham. Olive is upset that the pair were conspiring against her behind her back, gives into her anger, and bursts into flames. She decides to accept that she is like her Mother after all and will make people pay for what they have done to both of them. Until next month…
Wow. Writers Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan and Karl Kerschl nailed this issue. While the hints that Olive was being Tyler-Durden-ed have been in the story for a while seeing how the writers unfold it still packs a punch. The idea that Amity Arkham had not only been possessing Olive but was also responsible for her Mother’s insanity is a great twist and makes the ongoing story more complex than ever. The one drawback that this and the past few issues have is that Maps has taken a back seat in the narrative. Maps is relegated to standing around looking confused which isn’t a good look for her. This book is always strongest when Olive and Maps’ relationship is the central focus and that is missing here.
The issue’s pencils were by Adam Archer and Msassyk, inks by Sandra Hope and Msassyk, and colors by Msassyk. As always, the Gotham Academy artwork is a treat. The contrast between the vivid hues of the underground pages and the softness of the snowy cemetery pages are very strong. The background of the panel where Olive is propelled out of the tree into the woods is gorgeous. Also, the page where Olive re-remembers past events with and without Amy is fantastic. There is a visual splitting of the page separating the two versions of events and continuing down into Olive’s head. It is a powerful layout, conveying the emotional depths of the story through the art.
It should be no secret to anyone who has read any of my Gotham Academy reviews that I love this title. It is a creepy old school with mysteries and secrets, this is my wheelhouse. There are still a few problems with this story arc, primarily the sidelining of the relationship between Olive and Maps. However, I am very hopeful that with Olive’s personal, or should I say personality, problems that Maps will emerge to be her savior. In past reviews I have discussed the theory that Amy wasn’t really ‘there’ (as pointed out by fellow TBU comic reviewer, Ian Miller) but this was done in an even more interesting way than I had expected. I recommend this comic, though this issue isn’t the best jumping on point.