Gotham Academy #9 is a Scooby-Doo inspired mystery featuring a werewolf and introduces a villainess named Calamity who has ties to Olive’s mysterious past.
GOTHAM ACADEMY #9
Writers: Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Karl Kerschl
Colourists: Serge Lapointe and Msassyk
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Rebecca Taylor
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Gotham Academy #8: There is a funeral.
Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher embrace something wonderful in Gotham Academy #9 – obvious comparisons. The usual group of suspect kiddies: Olive, Maps and all their hangers-on are in hot pursuit of a werewolf across their school grounds. They come upon a tuft of wolf hair and return to a lair that looks suspiciously like the iconic Mystery Machine in order to do some scientific analysis and determine whether or not lycanthropy is actually a thing.
It’s a sweet nod to mystery-tracking young adults of the past that have had obvious effects on Cloonan and Fletcher’s work up until Gotham Academy #9 and beyond, but this is about where the tonal comparison to Scooby-Doo ends.
In Gotham Academy #9 readers are introduced to a new character called Calamity. Throughout the series there have been heavy implications that Olive possesses magic, that tends to manifest itself as fire, that she likely inherited from her deceased mother and in this issue Calamity appears to encourage Olive to manifest her fire. Cloonan and Fletcher use Calamity to cement not only the idea that this is dark magic, bad magic (not the Zatanna fun kind of DC Universe magic), but that it may even be too much for the young female protagonist to handle in her damaged emotional state.
Additionally, Cloonan and Fletcher are playing back into the cult storylines that they established in earlier issues with Pomeline by having her accidentally betray Olive to Calamity and her followers in Gotham Academy #9. They’ve built on the ideas of Talons, Court of Owls and other secret societies living in Gotham’s underbelly and brought the dangerous implications of blind faith to a place that is supposed to be safe for the innocent – they’ve brought danger to a school.
Gotham Academy #9 gives readers more character development on the Tristan front and he is a really, really interesting characters. For those not reading the series on the regular, Tristan is the student Man-Bat and the male foil to Olive. It is revealed in this issue that neither character became a student by accident or even of their own merit – both Olive and Tristan were placed in the care of Gotham Academy and Headmaster Hammerhead (who, it is worth repeating, still strongly resembles Ra’s Al Ghul), for purposes yet to be divulged! This leaves me hoping that Tristan and Olive will work more closely together in coming issues and continue to be creepy and dangerous as they learn to accept who they are and hone their respective abilities.
It seems like in each issue a different teacher is revealed to be mysterious and Gotham Academy #9 is no different. The gym teacher is a werewolf and that’s cool, it presents a touch of danger and may turn out to have greater implications later on down the road, but the issue is really about cementing the idea that Olive is special and Olive is dangerous and everybody at the school except herself and her friends knows more than they are telling.
It’s a cool issue.
Gotham Academy #9 is stunning. Karl Kerschl does some of the best work in comics and he is consistent. Month after month, issue after issue he draws creepy kids and scary monsters and occult power sets and they look so good! There is no adjective for how stunning Gotham Academy #9 is in its diverse representation of characters (across the ethnic spectrum), and monstrosities.
On top of Karl Kerschl’s hypnotic art in Gotham Academy #9 is the work of colourists Serga Lapointe and Msassyk. As the majority of this issue takes place out the in woods in abstractly the middle of the night it is covered in blues and whites from across the colour wheel, which allows for such a stark visual shift when Olive employs her magical fire.
Whether readers are looking at Gotham Academy #9 from a superhero perspective or a horror perspective it lives up to the expectation and often surpasses what you will be looking for. It’s just so cool and rendered with such loving attention to detail by all parts of the artistic team.
BOTTOM LINE: READ IT
Gotham Academy #9 continues to entertain and unpackage the horrible magic of the series. It tells a story that can be sufficiently dark and brooding and even set in the Batman universe without having Batman cameo all over the place. Yes, this issue requires knowledge of previous issues, but you owe it to yourself to spend the time reading those anyway.