Gotham Academy vol 1, issues 1-6, Welcome to Gotham Academy is a departure from the standard fare offered up in DC Universe and certainly different from any book tied to the Batman storylines. It tells the story of Olive Silverlock, a young teenager attending the very prestigious Gotham Academy who just re-entered school after a very traumatic summer. Rumors abound about her break-up with her boyfriend, her moodiness and what became of her mother over the summer. Her missing mother and a run-in with the Batman has given her the outsider status in school. This of course leads to bullying and even more rumors.
Her few remaining friends consist of the younger and new to the Academy, Mia “Maps” Mizoguchi, who also happens to be the younger sister of Olive’s ex-boyfriend. Mia convinces Olive that they need to explore the Academy and all its ancient hidden rooms. They spot some masked figures and come to find that their classmates, Pomeline Fritch and her boyfriend Heathcliff are part of a secret society and are attempting to capture the ghost of Millie Jane Cobblepot.
The group goes on a ghost hunt and what they find instead is symbols and mysteries of far more going on in Gotham Academy than meets the eye. The Headmaster is covering something up and the gang knows that underground tunnels go far deeper than imagined. For Olive it is a revelation when comes across Killer Croc, who is there under the tunnels looking out for her. A promise he made to her mother. There is also the boy named Tristan who can sprout wings and of course the Batman. A man whom Olive hates. The man who took her mother away to Arkham. The Batman who destroyed her life.
The group decides to continue on together, calling themselves the Detective Club and Olive finally feels like she belongs again. But this is Gotham Academy and something is always happening. Like the new student.
Gotham Academy is Scooby-Doo, but in such an awesome cool way. Olive’s hatred for the Batman make her such an awesome, brooding and yet understandable character. Every girl that has gone through a tough time in high school will relate and every boy who ever fell for that quiet girl in class is going to love her.
The cast of characters surrounding her are much the same but yet the writing and artwork of this comic raises it far above the normal fare. This is teenage angst Gotham style. Batman shows up here and there but he doesn’t save the day. If anything he gets in the way. This is a story told through the eyes of the child of someone who the Batman goes up against. Olive’s mother is in Arkham and Killer Croc is her friend. The Batman is the enemy.
And that is exactly what Gotham Academy is. Cool. No superheroes. No superpowers. Though you get the sense that Olive is far more than she seems, after all, as she says, she is her mother’s daughter.
DC has a very good book here, one of the few successes of the New 52 run. Here’s hoping they keep it going!