Written By Becky Coonan & Brenden Fletcher
Art by Karl Kerschl, MSassyK, Mingjue Helen Chen, & Serge Lapointe
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: October 21, 2015

This issue begins and ends with the mystery of Olive’s mother, the incinerating Calamity, and the rowdy crew puts their plan to explore Olive’s history into action. Maps and Olive reach the file room and get surprised by their friendly neighborhood Red Robin, Tim Drake. Tim shares what he knows about Calamity as Olive finds out how deep her villainous roots go. As she, Maps, and Tim wrestle with a “new” Calamity, she finds new pieces to the mystery, leading the group to their next location: Arkham Asylum.

I had been meaning to jump on the Gotham Academy train for a while, and being immersed in the middle of the current arc turned out to be super fun! This issue hooked me to the point that I immediately want to get the last ten issues, and continue reading this story. The cast of characters is great and I love what this issue revealed about their pasts and connections to famous Gotham citizens.

There’s much to be said for series that create characters whose personalities shine, and Becky Coonan and Brenden Fletcher execute such a feat wondrously. The characters feel real and likable, and how they handle the situations of this issue make sense. The spectacular moment of this issue for me was Olive’s desire to reach out to Calamity as Maps and Tim tried to stop her. Olive wanted to find out more about herself and her family, especially her mother, and she was willing to walk through the fire to make that happen.

Karl Kerschl, MSassyK, Mingjue Helen Chen, and Serge Lapointe are stellar on art. The fire imagery throughout the issue was eye popping. It was a great contrast to the darkness as Maps and Olive embark on their journey to uncover the mystery surrounding Olive’s mom. The literal fire images in the beginning and end of the issue were astounding and rife with emotional content. Each of the characters are well-defined, youthful, and diverse in their visage, a perfect fit for this series and this issue in particular.

Maps was an absolutely lovely part of this issue. She lives up to her name, but also her enthusiasm for being a hero. Her putting on the domino mask exemplified her will to be independent and challenge limitations others see for themselves and possibly even her. Being inducted into the Robins by a sorta-Robin let her joy emanate from the pages, and I wonder if she may even show up with Gotham’s other crew of bird-monikered youth.

Taking the chance to dive into Gotham Academy mid-story did not disappoint. I definitely see what the hype was about and will be making an effort to work through the entire series. Despite the serious tone, this is also a series I can see myself recommending to kids or therapists, who are regularly looking for material to connect and use with their clients.

The Verdict: 9.0/10


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