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Gotham Academy #3

Gotham Academy #3 Cover Art

Gotham Academy #3 Cover Art

The Ghost in the North Hall

I continue to enjoy Gotham Academy, but Cloonan’s wavy plot lines are starting to move from enigmatic to confusing.

Once again, not much happens in this issue, and we seem to have skipped several weeks of in-comic time without really resolving anything that happened previously. Olive, Maps, and their previous-nemesis-turned-copatriots Pomeline and Colton break into the North Hall to see what they can find. Olive has a deja vu moment, a creepy hand appears out of a hole in the floor, and then the issue ends.

Overall, I’m still enjoying the title, but I hope some more concrete plot resolution is coming in the next episode, 3/5.

 

Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Comics

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Gotham Academy #2

Gotham Academy #2 Cover Art

Gotham Academy #2 Cover Art

The Diary of Millie Jane Cobblepot

Gotham Academy might be the best chance DC has to regain my patronage. Issue #2 was a rarity in comics; almost nothing of substance happened, yet I was interested the whole way through. Cloonan and Fletcher make an incredible team, and this issue shows that well. I’m pretty sure Fletcher told at least half the story in this issue, not just illuminated it, actually told it.

In this issue, we get introduced a little better to our protagonist, Olive, although Cloonan has decided to keep Olive’s secrets from the reader as well. After a few typical high school mishaps throughout the day, Olive notices a cloaked figure stealing across the lawn that night. Along with Maps, she follows the figure to the entrance of the Cobblepot crypt, a name that has been full of foreshadowing so far. Inside, she disrupts a group of likewise cloaked figures from some form of ritual.

Thats it, not much plot for a whole issue, but I loved every bit of it. 4/5, can’t wait for #3.

 

Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Comics

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Arkham Manor (2014) #3

Arkham Manor #3 Cover Art

Arkham Manor #3 Cover Art

Cold Comfort

A third disappointment from Arkham Manor. In this issue, we watch Jack Shaw (Bruce Wayne) prowl through the guts of the former Wayne Manor searching for the killer he believes is Victor Zsasz–a missing manor guest. I have to give Crystal a lot of credit here, because the art is pretty good despite pages of actionless exposition.

There are four major reveals in this issue and almost all of them fall flat. The first is when the newest victim, previously foreshadowed Seth, falls in a convinient sink hole while being transferred to an ambulance. This, of course, sets off Seth’s paranoia about being buried alive earned from being trapped under the wreckage of the previous Arkham. If Seth wasn’t so heavy-hadedly blessed in the previous issues, this might have been interesting, but at this point I’m expecting far more and am left wanting.

The second major plot device is that Zsasz isn’t the killer, rather he is boarded up, half-alive in the bowels of Arkham Manor, presumably by the real murderer. I’m not a Batman fanboy, so any excitement I was supposed to feel at Zsasz’s name is lost on me, and any excitement I might have gained from that subtle-as-a-rock plot twist is erased by Shaw muses that Zsasz “might not be the killer after all” just two pages earlier.

Finally we have the dual reveal of the identity of the mute newcommer guest and the surprise reveal of the orderlies secret identity. This might have worked as the orderly is Batman’s inside contact. Unfortunately, we have been waiting for the identity of the wheelchair-bound mute for two issues now, and so the evokes feelings of “finally” rather then “aha!” when Clayface makes his appearance. Railroading that turn with Joker’s unmasking as the orderly doesn’t do much to improve things.

Overall, this issue took a predictable, heavy-handed turn into same-old batspace resulting in “Batman vs Joker and Clayface”; 2/5, this will be my last issue.

 

Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Comics

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Arkham Manor (2014) #2

Arkham Manor #2 Cover Art

Arkham Manor #2 Cover Art

A Home for the Criminally Insane, Volume 2

As I said in my review of Issue #1, I had high hopes for #2. Hopes that were not met. I was hooked by the idea of having Batman / Wayne try to perform his mission without the benefits either identity give him. Instead of working from within the system, we see “Jack Shaw” almost immediately break out of his cell and assault two guards on his way to apprehend a murderer.

The issue tells the story of Wayne’s first day and night in Arkham Manor under the alias of Jack Shaw. We are introduced (read: foreshadowing) to a disturbed inmate named Seth, and a unnamed mute inmate who has Wayne and his outside contact frightened. But neither of those two get any more character development than that, just slightly more than the token group session with some of Batman’s more famous adversaries (with Mr. Freeze teleconferencing in from the freezer). After some occupational therapy of painting the manor walls, Shaw sees a neighboring prisoner under attack from the unknown murder, at which point he makes his escape and assault. Predictably, he fails, and is suspected of being the murderer himself.

Now, I understand the immediacy in the plot and I don’t think that what happens is wrong, I’m just not interested in that story. Overall 3/5, I’ll give it another issue.

 

Posted by on January 13, 2015 in Comics

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Gotham Academy #1

Gotham Academy #1 Cover Art

Gotham Academy #1 Cover Art

Welcome to Gotham Academy

Gotham Academy is another one of the few DC titles that I was looking forward to. Much like Arkham Manor, I was excited by the possibility of a new, interesting story set in a familiar setting. Unlike Arkham Manor, Gotham Academy actually shows promise.

Cloonan tells the story of Olive Silverlock, a second year student at Gotham Academy and her acquaintances. Issue #1 starts on the first day of her second term, and it doesn’t start well. Cloonan hints at some plot points I assume she will unfold later with references to an eventful summer and the estrangement of her (ex?) boyfriend. Complicating things is her ex’s little sister, “Maps” Mizoguchi, who obviously idolizes Olive.

Cloonan and Fletcher both show their skill in this issue, weaving a story and artwork around and between facts and ideas that the reader knows are important, but never quite nail them down. In media res is hard to do, and so far, Cloonan has done it well. After finishing this issue, I feel like I know just enough about Gotham Academy and Olive to know that I know nothing, and eagerly await the next installment, 4/5.

 

Posted by on January 11, 2015 in Comics

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Arkham Manor (2014) #1

Arkham Manor #1 Cover Art

Arkham Manor #1 Cover Art

A Home for the Criminally Insane, Volume 1

I am generally not a fan of DC Comics; I’m dissatisfied with how they treat their properties, and find the titles to be a bit too on the nose. Debuting side-by-side with another Gotham title, Gotham Academy, Arkham Manor promises to be an interesting spin on the Batman universe, promising enough for me to try this #1.

I was hoping, like Gotham Academy that Batman would have very little page time in Arkham Manor. I was interested mostly if DC and Duggan (whom I love from Deadpool) could find a dramatic angle inside Gotham without resorting to the well-traveled stable of superheros. Issue #1 disappointed me in this respect, but also earned itself a second chance.

The story follows the aftermath of the collapse of the Arkham Asylum–Gotham’s iconic institution. With nowhere to house the mentally needy and criminally insane, the city appropriates Wayne Manor from the bankrupt Bruce as the new Arkham Manor. Wayne, of course, allows this to happen, for the good of Gotham, but soon discovers some terror in the Manor that is torturing and killing its residents. The issue ends with Batman/Wayne assuming a recently deceased man’s identity and allowing himself to be committed inside his old home, and the new Arkham.

Although I was disappointed by the major role to be played by Wayne, I do like the idea of stripping him of his freedom and placing him in a situation where his memories and formative years are played against his need to remain anonymous. I have said many times that the interesting thing about super heroes is not their powers, or really, anything related to their super-ness, but how they repress that side of themselves to operate in society. Arkham Manor looks to be a similar idea, but instead forcing Batman’s identity to die so that Batman’s mission may continue.

Overall, 4/5, with hope for issue #2.

 

Posted by on January 10, 2015 in Comics

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