Pulp #633

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Pulp #633

Well hey there, folks! In the chaos that follows moving house, I’ve managed to find some time to sit down and check out another great comic for this week’s Pulp. It’s a tough gig, I swear. This time around, I’ve picked up a book that’s been recommended to me so many times I’ve lost count – Gotham Academy, written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, and drawn by Karl Kerschl. One of the most recent – and, to my shock, original – titles to come from the DC stables, Gotham Academy follows Olive Silverlock, a student at the prestigious school the book takes its name from.

Returning to Gotham Academy after a traumatic summer, Olive is put into an awkward situation; she’s supposed to show a new student around the academy and show her the ropes. The awkward part? That student – Maps Mizoguchi – is the kid sister of Kyle, Olive’s sort-of ex. On top of that awkward mess, Olive’s got a case of selective amnesia, a bad attitude and an unexplained fear of bats. Oh, and there’s a ghost haunting the academy, as well as a secret society wandering the grounds. Olive’s in for a busy term!

In case it wasn’t already obvious, there’s a lot going on in Gotham Academy, and the current trade only collects the first six issues, so a lot is packed in. The best thing about this series is the new, fresh characters and the lack of reliance on existing canon – while there are obvious ties to Gotham City, the series isn’t as in-your-face about its ties to the existing DC universe as other spin-offs have been in the past. In a neat twist, though, Cloonan and Fletcher have populated the school’s staff with older, more obscure DC characters – Professor Milo makes an appearance as a science teacher – and the school’s headmaster, Mr Hammer, looks rather like a high profile member of the Batman rogues gallery.

I have to admit, I was pretty hesitant to pick this one up, despite all of the recommendations. I’m not the biggest fan of Fletcher’s work – I’m still sore about the Batgirl reboot, and despite a few attempts, I’ve never found the series appealing since Fletcher and Cameron Stewart took over.

Despite my reservations, once I actually sat down and read the book, I found myself getting sucked into the storyline. Olive’s adventures have an old-school adventure feel about them; it’s almost like reading a modern twist on the old Enid Blyton-era fantasy stories. The biggest appeal, however, came from Kerschl’s artwork; despite being initially put off by the bright colour scheme and art style reminiscent of the aforementioned Batgirl series, I quickly came to appreciate just how perfectly Kerschl’s style complements Cloonan and Fletcher’s writing. I was really impressed by Kerschl’s character designs, particularly his designs for the few pre-existing DC characters to pop up in the story (no spoilers!).

Written by Alastair McGibbon