Damian Wayne has infiltrated Gotham Academy, and has discovered the location of the most important secrets within its ancient walls…  Maps Mizoguchi’s diary!  Your Major Spoilers review of Gotham Academy #16 awaits!

GothamAcademy16CoverGOTHAM ACADEMY #16
Writer: Brenden Fletcher/Ken Niimura/James Tynion IV
Penciler: Adam Archer/Ken Niimura/Christian Wildgoose
Inker: Sandra Hope/Ken Niimura
Colorist: Adam Archer/Serge LaPointe
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Rebecca Taylor
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Gotham Academy: Olive, Pomeline, Kyle, Colton and Maps are all students at the prestigious Gotham Academy, and together have discovered a number of strange and mysterious happenings within the walls of their school.  Having created an unofficial Detectives Club, they investigate the happenings at the strangest school in the strangest city in all of the DC Universe, to the point where they’ve actually come to the attention of Batman himself, leading to Damian “Robin” Wayne coming to the Academy, and now he’s breaking into Maps’ room to investigate…

HOW MAPS MET BATMAN

This issue opens with Damian slipping in, using his detecting skills to identify the floorboard that hides Maps’ homemade yearbook, with the stories in this issue depicting the entries in her diary.  First up, James Tynion IV writes the story of Maps and Colton setting off together (thanks to her slipping him the birthday money she got from Gramma) to fulfill one of her “perfect” plans: Slip into GCPD, turn on the Bat-Signal, and enjoy her new life as the newest Robin!  It’s a foolproof plan, save for the question of how a young teen girl is going to stay awake.  Maps awakens in her own bed back at the Academy, with a truly adorable final stinger for the story.  (The question of how Colton got out of trouble is likewise left in the air.)  Pomeline arrives, running Robin off (also an amusingly written moment) leading to Ken Niimura’s wonderful ‘Boring Sunday.’  The story of how the Detective Club spends their weekends gets more complex when Maps discovers a buried time-capsule featuring a letter dated 1779…

WARM AND WONDERFUL

I really enjoy this issue’s Maps-centric tales and especially enjoy the ambiguity of whether or not they occurred in reality or just in the mind of an excitable teenager, but the secret of the time-capsule may be the sweetest comic book moment I’ve read in forever.  This issue features three different creative teams, but never feels over-crowded, and the varied artistic styles mesh quite well, thanks in large part to the narrative device in play.  All three art-jobs are excellent, but special credit goes to Niimura’s work, a simpler style than the usual Gotham Academy art, but one that’s both expressive and attractive.  The previous two issues of the ‘Yearbook’ arc haven’t been quite this strong for me as a reader, but whether that’s a function of Maps as a character or of these creative teams’ handle on the Academy characters is uncertain.  Regardless, it’s a lovely issue, and one packs a lot into 20 pages.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A STRONG COLLECTION OF STORIES

In short, this comic is good and you need to go read it, because it’s sweet and funny and adventurous all at once, and you’re gonna want to know what’s going on when the big Lumberjanes crossover kicks in, right?  Gotham Academy #16 is the kind of book that comics need more of, with well-defined characters, fun plotting, lovely art and my favorite Batman cameo in forever, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.

GOTHAM ACADEMY #16

Writing
Art
Coloring

A solid set of stories framed by an ingenious premise, with varying art styles that all work well together...

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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