Archive for Gotham Academy

Busting the Bat


Gotham Academy #6

Batman finally shows up and takes on Killer Croc — and something happens with Olive Silverlock. It appears she has pyrokinetic powers that she may not even be aware of. She saves Croc, and Croc saves her during the ensuing inferno. After Croc makes his escape, Olive has an angry confrontation with Batman, and the next day, she and her friends resolve to form a group dedicated to searching out the Academy’s mysteries.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a cool story with cool art, and it’s great to finally see a decent appearance from Batman, too.


Daredevil #14

Matt Murdock has definitely embraced having no secret identity — he’s now wearing a fancy red suit — as in jacket, vest, and tie — with a Daredevil belt buckle, no mask, no sunglasses — which he’s wearing for both courtroom duties and crimefighting. He runs into a new supervillain calling herself the Owl — she claims to be the original Owl’s daughter, and she wants to find out where he is. When they finally track down his location, he’s hooked up to a vast number of telecommunication cables. But who’s holding him captive here, and for what purpose?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The whole story is outstanding, but you gotta give it extra credit for Matt’s fantastically bizarre new look.

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Gwen’s Back!


Spider-Gwen #1

Gwen Stacy — the Spider-Woman of an alternate universe where she got bit by the radioactive spider and Peter Parker died after turning himself into the Lizard — is back on her home Earth after the events of the Spider-Verse crossover. The Vulture has made his first appearance and attacked beat cop Ben Grimm. Captain Stacy has been relieved of his position on the Special Crimes Task Force, which has been taken over by Captain Frank Castle. The Mary Janes have a popular song, but they’re not going anywhere when Gwen, their drummer, isn’t in the band. Can Gwen get her life back on track? Can she lure the Vulture out of hiding and take him down to improve her image with the public and the cops?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’ve really been looking forward to this comic. Everyone’s very excited about this version of Gwen Stacy, and it’s interesting to see how her supporting cast is starting to be filled out. My lone quibble: Man, that title is a stinker. What’s wrong with “Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman”?


Gotham Academy #5

Olive learns that Killer Croc is hiding in the north wing of the school — and he’s actually watching out for her, as a favor to her mother, who was a patient in Arkham. She and Maps lose track of Croc, but enlist the aid of several other schoolmates to look for him. Olive also learns the secret of mysterious Tristan — he has the Langstrom Virus, so he sometimes grows bat wings and flies around the campus at night. Eventually, everyone gets together, finds Croc, brings him some food — and then there’s another unwelcome guest with his own set of bat wings.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This issue is nearly 90% crazy and 110% gorgeous. I love the fact that this whole things seems to be set in the animated Batman TV series and not in any comic books — Croc looks just like he did on TV, he uses all his best lines, some of the teachers seem to be from the TV show, and the whole thing is wonderfully free of excess angst, even for a teen romance comic.


Daredevil #13

Things seem to be going well for Matt Murdock and Kirsten McDuffie — but Matt is second-guessing his relationship because he knows how most of his girlfriends end up. Foggy Nelson angrily tells Matt to stop pretending everyone else in the world is just a supporting character in his life (even though — shhh! — they actually are supporting characters. OMG, Inception!) and learn to trust that Kirsten is able to take care of herself. And then Kirsten does get kidnapped. But who is her mysterious abductor? Who helps Daredevil capture him? And who’s the secret mastermind behind it all?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful comic, as always, and a nice little boost to Kirsten McDuffie’s badass factor — namely that she has her own rogues gallery.

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We’d Like to Welcome You to Munchkinland


Munchkin #1

If y’all ain’t heard of the Munchkin card game from Steve Jackson Games, I’m gonna assume y’all never visit a comics shop or game store, ’cause I see those games just about everywhere. In the game, everyone plays cheating min-maxing roleplayers, always looking to stab their friends in the back to steal all the treasure. But is this something that can be turned into a monthly comic book?

What we have here is a humor anthology comic, featuring stories by Tom Siddell, Mike Holmes, Jim Zub, Rian Sygh, and card game illustrator John Kovalic. We follow a group of RPG players in game as they quest for adventure and treasure, all while trying to convince the sole normal guy among them to adopt a fighting class so he can enjoy the game. Too bad his enjoyment isn’t as much fun for the other players. Later, we meet up with Spyke, the game’s face-on-the-box and the guy on the cover, as he shows a newbie adventurer the ropes and contends with some unusual furniture. And there’s a new Munchkin card in the issue! Just for you!

Verdict: I think we’ll call this a thumbs up. No, that’s not really the most enthusiastic rating, is it? Listen, we’ve got a good comic here, with very nice cartoon art and a number of really outstanding gags. But man, I really don’t know that this should be an ongoing series. How many jokes can you make about players backstabbing each other?


Gotham Academy #4

Too many people, including the creepy Headmaster Hammer, know that Olive Silverlock sneaked into the forbidden North Hall, which means she and Maps have to act fast to solve the mystery before their activities get locked down. Olive discovers a symbol in Hammer’s office that was also included in an old book in the library. Interrogating the local weird kid gets them nowhere — but soon enough, the fearsome Ghost of Millie Jane Cobblepot appears in the girls’ window! What does the ghost reveal? What do the symbols mean? Who’s the monster hiding behind the walls?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art, which I think we’ve talked about before. Lots of amazing jokes (and in-jokes) lurking in the background. Simon Trent, from the old Batman animated series episode “Beware the Gray Ghost,” makes an appearance. And a few secrets are revealed, even if they lead to some new mysteries.

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Game of Secrets


Secret Six #1

Gail Simone is back writing a new “Secret Six” series, this time with Ken Lashley providing the art. The only character we recognize from the classic Secret Six is Catman, now much more bisexual than he was and also more unstable, with a severe dislike of confinement and captivity of any kind.

When Thomas Blake is abducted by an unknown organization, he finds himself in the company of five other people — Shauna Belzer, the new telekinetic Ventriloquist from Simone’s Batgirl comics; Porcelain, who can make things brittle; Damon Wells, a private eye called Big Shot who can make himself grow larger; Strix, a silent assassin; and Black Alice, with her vast stolen magical powers. The organization holding them demands to know the answer to the question “What is the secret?” and if they can’t provide an answer, they’re going to start killing people.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s nice to see Catman and Black Alice again, and some of the other characters look like they could be interesting. The art, however, is extremely uneven — sometimes really cool, and other times just slapped onto the page. We’ll need to see some improvement there quick…


Gotham Academy #3

Things continue to be incredibly weird around Olive Silverlock, including ghosts, secret conspiracies of teachers, secret conspiracies of students, stakeouts on the roof of the school, and heart-to-heart talks with her ex-boyfriend. When Olive and Maps see mysterious glowing eyes looking out from the closed North Hall of the school, they decide to break in and search the place, with the aid of a couple — well, not friends, really, but people who aren’t entirely hostile. What definitely is hostile, however, is the thing hiding underneath the floor in the North Wing…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The art and storytelling are both super-cool. And I love the way there’s so much weird stuff going on all around them. Will some of this stuff ever be explained? Seriously, I kinda hope not — I love the idea that there are some things that are just bizarre for no reason, and no one will ever think to mention them again…

Today’s Cool Links:

  • One of my friends did a TED Talk about her experiences with synaesthesia.
  • Soldiers in actual war zones are less aggressive than cops in American cities — and that means cops are just making things worse for themselves.
  • If you’re getting me anything for Christmas, I’d really love an Aztec Death Whistle.
  • A century ago, Thanksgiving was a lot more like Halloween.

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The Titans and their Trees


Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #6

Cyborg uses his Justice League connections (he gets B’dg to activate a Boom Tube) so the Titans can get onto the JLA Watchtower to look for their lost Treehouse. Batman is sick of all this nonsense and gets Superman to activate another Boom Tube so he can lasso the Brainiac Club and the miniaturized Treehouse and drag it back home. And now the Titans have lots of different Treehouses from their various adventures during this series. But there’s more trouble on the horizen. Principal Slade has given them all detention for activating Boom Tubes during class — and the detention monitor is… LUNCH LADY DARKSEID! Is this the end?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Well, it’s kinda the end. But we get the implication that there are more Tiny Titans miniseries coming, which would be an entirely wonderful thing. The story itself is all kinds of fun, just like we’ve come to expect from everything Baltazar and Franco do.


Gotham Academy #2

Olive Silverlock continues to have an angsty high school career in creepy Gotham Academy. She can’t remember anything she did last summer, she doesn’t know if she’s even dating her boyfriend anymore, and did I mention how creepy Gotham Academy is? Aside from the weird schoolmates, creepy libraries and schoolrooms, and dogs randomly digging up human bones, there’s the bat cult hiding out in the cemetery. What’s Olive’s connection to all this? Heck, who is Olive, really?

Verdict: Thumbs up. In a way, there’s not a lot going on in this issue. I mean, there’s so much teenaged angst — sometimes way more than you can take, or even understand. But I really do love the stuff going on in the background, the backgrounds, the throw-off characters, the weird stuff that just barely registers with you. And I’d really, really love to find out what Olive’s deal is. She’s got something big going on with her, but what it might be, I’ve got not one single clue.


Velvet #8

Velvet has a thoroughly complicated plan to learn what’s hidden inside the ARC 7 headquarters. First she has to kidnap the director, strap a fake bomb on him, take his picture, freak everyone out and get them to evacuate the building, then glide in on a spy-tech flight suit, subdue the one guy smart enough to figure out her plan, and then make one phone call on one very special phone. Who does she call? What’s her next move?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art, amazine action, wonderful plot and development — and I’d dearly love to learn more about what’s happening next. Best espionage comic on the stands? I think it’s pretty likely.

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Academy Awards


Gotham Academy #1

Holy cow, a new DC series that’s teen-girl-friendly? Stuff like that happens mighty rarely.

Our setting is, natch, Gotham Academy, a high-class prep school operating out of a building that looks like Arkham Asylum. Our lead characters are Olive Silverlock, a silver-haired second-year student with an anti-authority attitude, and Maps Mizoguchi, an incredibly innocent first-year student who Olive has been assigned to as a mentor to get her accustomed to the school. There follows a great deal of teenaged angst — until Olive decides to take Maps on a tour of the strictly-forbidden North Hall, just before the evening’s school assembly, featuring a speech by school benefactor Bruce Wayne. Unfortunately, the North Hall and its tower are “structurally unsound” — and it’s a long way to the ground for a couple of teenagers.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I didn’t love it as much as some folks did, but it’s a nice story, it’s got excellent characters, and it’s got great art. If they work it right, it’s got promise of becoming something transcendental — something that’ll become one of those sleeper hits no one really expects, that comic fans, non-comic fans, and future comics creators will talk about in reverent tones. But it’s got to do a bit more work to get there. For now, it’s a very fine debut comic, and it’ll be fun to see where it goes from here.


Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #5

The Titans travel to Paradise Island to find a new treehouse, but the boys aren’t allowed to touch the ground, so they have to wear pink slippers. Cheetah decides to hide Wonder Woman’s invisible jet by painting it camouflage colors… which works perfectly! Meanwhile, back at Sidekick City Elementary, Trigon has decided to hold a practice run of the demonic takeover he plans for the Earth once Raven has her 18th birthday. And there’s a discussion of the many different kinds of alternate earths there are…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s as cute and funny as we always expect the Tiny Titans to be, but I’ll admit my favorite bit is everyone’s complete inability to see the invisible jet once it’s actually visible.


Silver Surfer #6

The Surfer and Dawn Greenwood are leaving Earth — well, they’re leaving Earth slowly, because Dawn needs to eat, then she needs to go to the bathroom, then she needs to eat again, then she needs her tonsils out, and because she’s gotten her tonsils out, she demands ice cream — the greatest ice cream in the universe! That leads them to Planet Prime, a planet even the Surfer has never visited before. All the people there strive to be the most perfect at whatever their job is. So there’s one perfect architect who designs all the buildings, one perfect builder who builds all the buildings, one perfect painter who paints all the buildings — and one perfect warrior to defend the planet from cosmic-powered aliens. Can even the Silver Surfer defeat Warrior One?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really nice art, as always, and a fun story. It probably hits its peak early on, with the Surfer’s growing frustration with Dawn’s human limitations, but the rest of the story, though contrived, is nicely done.

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