GOTHAM ACADEMY: SECOND SEMESTER #8
Written by Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, and Karl Kerschl
Art by Adam Archer, MsassyK, and Sandra Hope
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: April 12, 2017
At last, Calamity has overtaken Olive Silverlock and her true history is revealed — but which Detective Club member is the key to stopping her rampage? Will Bookworm get away with his devious scheme and is Colton leaving school for good?
A lot of questions have been swirling around Gotham Academy since the series’ beginning — and it’s finally time for some answers. The history of the Silverlock family stands exposed, and it goes back much farther than most readers could have imagined. That’s part of the genius behind what Cloonan, Fletcher, and Kerschl have planned and laid out since the beginning: they’ve managed to mine the history of the Batman Universe in trivial ways, without ever completely letting on they were hitting gold much further below the surface.
In taking Olive’s story all the way back to Gotham City’s colonial days, the writers are tying these brilliant, complex (albeit new) characters directly into the foundations of the mythos in such a sleek way, you’d be hard-pressed to think they were never there prior. And it’s not just the Silverlocks or the Arkhams, but the Fritches as well, putting these family legacies on par with the Waynes, Kyles, Kanes, and Cobblepots.
I’ve really enjoyed the “is she or isn’t she” sense of Olive as a meta-human, but the basis of her very real and growing power in ancestral magic and possession just feels right, especially given the beginning of this arc’s focus on the Witches’ Club. Of course, in the rearview mirror, we can see clearly how the magic crept in, bit by bit, even though the writers always left some semblance of the benefit of the doubt in play.
What I most appreciate about this chapter — and the conclusion it brings to so many questions we have about Olive’s place at Gotham Academy — is that the story goes dark without any characters losing their humanity, even Olive. Her possessed form too is compelled by friendship, which in some ways is the sweetest reflection of what this team has built. That friendship bond so permeates every main character (from Olive and Maps to Pomeline, Colton, and Kyle) that it is inseparable from the overall narrative, no matter how devastating and dark the story needs to go.
Adam Archer and Msassyk have truly lived up to the legacy of the book’s first volume, adapting to the overall Gotham Academy aesthetic with skill and warmth of character. From Maps’ concern to Olive’s mania, every character is well represented emotionally and transparently, as kids their age should be.
There’s extra skill in Archer’s having the Batman feel like he seamlessly fits into this world, no small feat given the relative paucity of YA stories for the Dark Knight. But that’s the great thing about this title: it fits perfectly into the universe, but holds its own. Gotham Academy doesn’t need Batman any more than Batman needs Gotham Academy. They co-exist in a larger universe now. And I love the possibility that exists in that fact.
As saddened as I am by the news this series will reach its end with Olive’s story complete at issue #12, I am held by two truths. One, that it seems inevitable that Gotham Academy will continue to grow in other forms outside this particular comic book series, be it in novel, graphic novel, or animated form. And two, that we still have the glory of four issues like Gotham Academy: Second Semester #8 to enjoy, rounding out 31 issues of a book that stands as one of the greats of the recent era.
The Verdict: 10/10