Enter the Dark Halls of ‘Gotham Academy’

Gotham Academy #4, Art by Karl Kerschl © DC Comics
Gotham Academy #4. Art by Karl Kerschl © DC Comics.

Batman book without Batman? The Dark Knight may not be the star of Gotham Academy, but his shadow lurks in every issue. Gotham Academy is a unique and captivating all-ages Bat-book from DC Comics that I’d recommend to any comic reader, young or old.

As the story opens, Olive Silverlock has returned to the prestigious Gotham City prep school after summer vacation ends. Something terrible happened to her over the break, but she doesn’t want to talk about it, not even with her boyfriend Kyle. Is Kyle even still her boyfriend? Olive doesn’t know. But his sister Maps Mizoguchi, a freshman new to the school, insists on following Olive around and immediately counts her as a best friend. When the two decide to investigate a reported ghost on campus, they begin to unravel the mysteries of the past—including what happened to Olive’s mom.

Gotham Academy #1, Art by Karl Kerschel © DC Comics
Gotham Academy #1. Art by Karl Kerschl © DC Comics.

The manga-inspired book is worth the price just for the art alone. Karl Kerschl’s lovely character designs and detailed art, paired with the brilliant colors by Romain Gaschet, create an intriguing, spooky atmosphere without tipping the scale into macabre.

© DC Comics
© DC Comics

Writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher have placed the focus on how ordinary young people see Gotham, making this an ideal book for preteen or teen Batman fans. Olive isn’t impressed by the Bat-signal or Batman, and she and Bruce Wayne seem to have a past history of their own. Batman characters make their presence known as the mysteries of the series continue to be unveiled, so this absolutely feels like a Bat-book that’s part of the main DC universe.

Due to the events of Convergence, Gotham Academy is currently on hiatus, which makes this the perfect time to catch up. The first six issues are collected in a trade paperback coming next month, and the adventures of Olive and Maps continue in Gotham Academy #7 on June 10.

Kelly Knox is a freelance writer in Seattle, WA, where she contributes to local parenting magazines. She also writes for StarWars.com, Geek & Sundry, Forever Young Adult, and more. You can find crafts and art projects for geeky families at her blog The St{art} Button.