…American Idol. Wait am I dating myself? Would America’s Got Talent be more timely?
In either case, the January issue of Gotham Academy reads like a talent show with 3 unique stories from 3 different teams (and the main story to tie all of it together). It appears this format will continue for two more issues.
Quick disclaimer: My posts are usually minimally edited drafts which may have a kernel of insight or humor. If I waited until I had a perfect draft, I wouldn’t find the time and it would stay in my drafts folder hidden away from the world.
I still feel new to comic books, but not so new to know that these types of issues are common practice for comic books. So familiar enough to know what it is; new enough not to know what everyone calls it. I’m going with ‘3 story format’.
After losing two of the three all stars who brought the idea to life, I’m convinced this is the best course for Gotham Academy. Since it’s beginning the art of Karl Kershl has been front and center. Most reviewers love it (including me) or others can’t stand it. But everyone notices it. Still, the series itself is story driven and full of drama, mystery and obscure characters from Batman story lines. It is a fun series from Kershl, Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan.
But now Fletcher is the proverbial cheese that stands alone and the series will need to find an artist to fill Kershl’s spot. Or fans will have to accept a different style.
Gotham Academy #14 showcases 3 very different styles. This is an important distinction from the other time the 3 story format was used, in Gotham Academy Endgame. That was part of a tie-in to a story for a different Gotham character, but #14 (15 & 16) aren’t tied to any other story. I imagine that 15 & 16 will continue to challenge fans with bold and unfamiliar artistic styles.
Cloonan’s influence on the dialogue was missed (or what I imagine her influence is). Olive and Maps are certainly close friends, but Olive is a complex character and shoulders all the emotional weight that comes with that complexity. Maps is a virtuous, imaginative and excitable superfan. The dialogue fell a little short of what we normally see from these two. But then again, it isn’t a normal issue.
It’s worth mentioning that in both 14 & Endgame, the story featuring Isla MacPherson was my favorite.
I’m grateful that this interlude is taking place in between arcs and not being shoe horned into the middle of an arc.
One final note about the artwork of Karl Kershl. Gotham Academy tells the same story in print or digital. But the medium is different and Karl Kershl’s art (more than any other artist) is clearly intended for print. Gotham Academy was one of the titles that convinced me to buy print copies, instead of digital. I was already buying 1 or 2 print comic books a month, but it was the first time I actively tracked down back issues that were not in the store. Meaning… it was the first time I bought comics from ebay. It’s a thing that can’t be undone.