Gotham Academy #4 has Olive and Pomeline dealing with the consequences of their ghost hunt and Olive making a dangerous discovery in the final pages.
GOTHAM ACADEMY #4
Writers: Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Karl Kerschl
Colourists: Msassyk and Serge LaPointe
Letterer: Steve Wand
Editor: Mark Doyle
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Gotham Academy #3: Olive and her growing posse go on a ghost hunt for Millie Jane Cobblepot and it turns out to be scarier than they anticipated.
CONSEQUENCES AND COMPARISONS
Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher open Gotham Academy #4 with Olive and Pomeline. Formerly, Pomeline has been Olive’s enemy and it’s been compelling reading as the girls are forced into becoming allies. They aren’t pleased with the way their interaction with Millie Jane Cobblepot’s ghost in the previous issue went, but aren’t able to get too far into the conversation when Olive is summoned to the headmaster’s office.
One of the really cool things about Gotham Academy #4 (and the entire series to date, really), are the references and callbacks to parts of the Batman mythos and these are prevalent in this issue. Olive spies Bruce Wayne some windows, although they do not have an immediate interaction. When Headmaster Hammer-Head (as the students refer to him), appears for the second time in the series he still strongly resembles the classic Ra’s Al Ghul, which makes Cloonan and Fletcher having dropped Bruce Wayne into this issue a much more interesting choice than when taken at face value.
Olive escapes Hammer-Head with little more than a warming and spends a good chunk of Gotham Academy #4 teaming up with Maps in order to extort some information out of one of their fellow students – a very nervous boy named Eric. Olive is a fairly mature character who carries a lot of repressed emotion around with her and Maps acts as a great foil to what sometimes comes across as Olive’s gloom. Where Olive is methodical and measured, Maps is loud and enthusiastic. While Maps’ approach is perhaps not the most useful to their cause, Cloonan and Fletcher have created a very special character with her. Maps’ value comes from her realizations and revelations that are often derived from her imagination rather than any sort of deductive abilities.
Whether by design or otherwise the team of Olive and Maps mirrors the classic Batman and Robin archetype. The older Olive falls into the leadership role, the serious role, the detective role. She needs the younger Maps to bring levity and excitement into her life (think Dick Grayson’s Robin), in order to achieve a perfect working balance and, ultimately, to function as one whole emotionally stable human being. I’m not certain if this was an intentional creative parallel on behalf of Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, but the comparison is there and I believe it to be a great strength of the series. Gotham Academy #4 with the interrogation of Eric really brings these archetypical comparisons to the forefront.
Olive winds up discovering a series of passageways that leads through the walls of the girls’ dormitory in the final pages of Gotham Academy #4. She learns some things about her classmates (and even her roommate), and winds up coming face to face with villain that Batman fans will recognize who presents an immediate physical threat to our young female protagonist.
Gotham Academy #4 is awesome. It’s dark, it’s dangerous, it’s filled with amazing characters and everything Cloonan and Fletcher do within the pages of this issue makes for compelling reading.
Karl Kerschl should honestly draw everything ever. Gotham Academy #4 is a beautifully frightening comic in the vein of classic gothic art and literature. Olive and Maps are sweet and their character design feels honest in the way it handles their youth (awesomely they are at no point sexualized), and their sweet beauty makes the dark world filled with high ceilings and tight corridors all the more imposing.
Aside from going on and on about how stunning I think Kerschl’s art to be, the way he tells stories with scale is striking. He deftly lets readers know that Olive is in safe environment, in control of the situation, by populating the room with escape routes – lots of windows and doors – sources of lights and open space, whereas when she is in immediate danger the walls are closer together, the ceiling becomes visible and creepy, reaching objects hang off the wall as if they are reaching out to grab Olive. In Gotham Academy #4 when Olive is in control she looks like an adult, when she needs help she seems to transform almost immediately back into a little girl.
The colouring team on Gotham Academy #4 deserves a lot of credit for contrasting the light and the dark aspects of the narrative being told. Everyone is doing great work on this issue and the result is a striking visual product.
THE BOTTOM LINE: SO GOOD SO CREEPY
Gotham Academy #4 is delving deeper into the more dangerous aspects of living in Gotham City. The characters and their deductive coping are fascinating. The entire creative team behind this series is doing some of the best work on the stands.