Review: Gotham Academy Vol. 2

I’ve been keeping up with my reading, but realized tonight that I haven’t been doing the reviews to go along with all of them. Particularly the comics, since that’s actually part of the challenge I’m doing. So I’m going to try to get back to that, and add a couple to the list to make up for the ones I miss.

Last night I read Gotham Academy: Volume 2. Spoilers ahead. img_20170302_235815

It was fine. In fact, if I had gone in with no expectations, I probably would have liked it a lot. But I went in with big expectations, because I loved the first one so much. And I don’t even really know what changed here. I can’t put my finger on anything about it that was wrong or missing. But I didn’t love it the same way I loved volume one, and that disappointment makes me rate it as just okay.

I enjoyed reading it. But I’m not excited to pick up the next book. I’m not very invested in the characters. They’re good characters, I just need more of them to really make a connection and care what happens to them. There was so much happening here and none of it seemed to get enough attention. More depth and less breadth would be good here.

One very specific and spoiler-y example here is Damian Wayne. His admission to the academy was shown at the very end of volume one, and even though I don’t know a lot about the character I thought including him here was an interesting choice and I wanted to see how he would fit. The answer is basically “not well” and he’s gone from the academy almost as soon as he’s introduced. It just felt kind of gimmicky and unnecessary, when that time could have gone to Olive dealing with her feelings and bonding with her friends.

But the art is fantastic. That was my draw to the series in the first place and it does not disappoint here. The layouts! I am so in love with these layouts. I first heard the series described in a podcast (I don’t remember which one anymore) as looking like a film more than a comic book, and I think that’s true. The art has a very active, dynamic feel to it, the panels are arranged in a way that gives the impression of movement. Most of the pages have a primary scene that covers the page and then smaller movements and words in windows that cut across it rather than more traditional sequential panels, so everything is happening at once rather than one panel at a time.

Here’s some absolutely gorgeous examples. And this was just from a quick flip through the book, I couldn’t even find my favorite page that I had originally planned to share.

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See how the action flows and reads so naturally? I’m just repeatedly amazed at the skill and attention to detail here. How I can hear the sound effects and feel the textures as I read. So well done.

You know what? I’ve changed my mind. Based on the art and my general trust in these writers, I’m giving it another chance and I’m really excited to see further adventures. And more art. So much more of the art.

My rating at Goodreads right after finishing was 3/5, but now that I’ve looked through it again to do this review, I think I’ll change it. It’s a pretty solid 4, and I recommend it for other fans of YA books. And if you like it, maybe check out Gunnerkrigg Court, which has a similar feel but without all the Batverse cameo shenanigans.

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