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Comic Book / Gotham Academy

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For over seventy-five years Gotham City has been established as a sprawling metropolis bursting at the seams with crime, corruption, and vice. Only the efforts of a few brave individuals such as The Batman keep the city from falling into ruins, at the hands of the infamous rogues that prowl its streets.

But this comic is not about any of that. (Except when it is.)

Gotham Academy is a monthly pseudo-spinoff of the Batman series by Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl that launched in 2014. As its name would imply, it's focused on the lives of the students attending Gotham's eponymous and most prestigious academy, particularly one Olive Silverlock. Attending her second year at the academy, she trudges through school life with a laundry list of personal problems and a knack for getting into trouble. Like many other famous schools, life at Gotham Academy is anything but normal.

In 2016, the series got a relaunch as part of DC Rebirth with a new title called Gotham Academy: Second Semester, in addition to a six-issue crossover with Lumberjanes. In 2022, Maps reappeared in the backup strip for Batman (Joshua Williamson), under the title A Gotham Academy Adventure which was collected under the title Gotham Academy: Maps of Mystery. A story appeared in the 2022 anthology DC Saved By The Belle Reve . A three part story appeared in the an anthology Batman The Brave And The Bold 2023.

Gotham Academy contains examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Duh. It's where Killer Croc resides.
  • Academy of Adventure: How else are you going to make a teen drama in Gotham City? Anything and everything will happen. Oddball teachers, terrifying creatures, unsolved mysteries, and zany teenagers all call the place home.
  • Adults Are Useless: They always insist that nothing is strange happening at the Academy when all signs clearly say that there is. It's not that they don't know, though; some of them think they're protecting the kids by denying the weirdness, while others are part of the problem.
  • Alliteration & Adventurers: Serpents & Spells is Dungeons & Dragons with a new name.
  • Ambiguous Situation: In the Annual, Olive ends up getting sick alongside a majority of the student body; Pom blames her illness on a vampire infestation, while Colton believes the school's new guest lecturer poisoned her. While they're both correct (there is in fact a vampire haunting the school and the guest lecturer turns out to be the radioactive Blight), it's never explicitly confirmed which one caused Olive to fall ill, though it's all but stated both of them got the student body sick as a whole.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Riko moves in, she becomes Olive's roommate. Additionally, she has the same backpack style as Maps. Maps is predictably less than pleased.
  • Art Shift:
    • The seventh issue, which focuses on Damian and Maps, has a noticeably softer and more anime-like art style compared to the rest of the issues. Justified by the change in artist and the fact that the story is told from the ever bubbly Map's perspective much like how the main story is narrated by Olive.
    • The fourteenth issue begins the Yearbook storyline, which takes a break from the main story to explore numerous side-stories a la Framing Device. All are drawn by different artists, with the 'main' setting keeping a consistent art style to act as the anchoring point for the narrative.
  • Avengers Assemble: Shouted by Maps.
  • Betty and Veronica: Kyle as Betty and Tristan as Veronica to Olive's Archie.
  • Bookcase Passage: The schools large library contains a number of hidden doors.
  • Candlelit Bath: Olive takes one in Second Semester #1. When the candle goes out, she seemingly relights it with her mind.
  • Continuity Snarl: From Annual #1 with Batman: Superheavy. Derek Powers does already exist within the present day, and one could argue his falsified credentials were courtesy of his aunt Geri, who temporarily had the controlling share of Wayne-Powers in Superheavy. He is even name-dropped in that arc, revealed to be a college student attending overseas.
  • Covers Always Lie: Don't expect the covers to be indicative of what will happen in the actual comic. More often than not it doesn't.
  • The Cameo: Many, including Bruce Wayne, Damian Wayne, Hugo Strange, Dr. Langstrom (Man-Bat), and more.
  • Death Glare: Maps is not pleased with Riko's visit.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: During the Endgame tie-in, Maps notes that the Joker interrupted her cartoons several times a year before her family got a Webflix subscription.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: When Maps asks Damian if he's Batman when he pulls out a Batarang. Close, but not quite.
  • Evil Teacher: A number of the teachers at Gotham Academy are either current or former members of Batman's rogues gallery; for just a few examples, Hugo Strange is a student counselor, Kirk Langstrom/Man-Bat is a science teacher, and Sterling Silversmith is a shop class teacher. Sometimes they plot evil schemes that involve the school or its students, sometimes they're just content to teach (though their villainous mannerisms can creep in).
  • Framing Device: The Endgame tie-in and the Yearbook storyline both feature a premise involving the main characters telling stories. In the former, the students are housed together following a power outage caused by the Joker's Endgame, so naturally the main characters take the chance to share Joker-themed ghost stories while the main plot is explored. In Yearbook, Maps is comforted by Olive when her idea for a yearbook club is rejected, leading to a multitude of side-stories featuring (mis)adventures several of the Academy cast had undertaken, all removed from the main plot of the entire book.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Throughout the final arc, with Maps trying to get Olive to resist her ancestor's evil influence.
  • Lighter and Softer: Zig-zagged. Few of Gotham's most terrifying villains have shown up on the comic thus far, rendering the sense of danger and fear more muted compared to other Batman-related stories. However, the bullying present in the story as well as the clear social and psychological problems Olive has is a topic frequently touched upon as part of the ramifications of living in Gotham.
  • Loose Canon: It's unclear just how canonical this is in relation to other Batman-related comics. Various characters from them appear and there are allusions to Bat-book crossovers (with "Endgame" and "Robin War" getting full-on tie-in issues) but it's hard to imagine Hugo Strange and Kirk Langstrom being employed as schoolteachers given their lengthy criminal histories.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: In the Annual Derek Powers has come back in time to kill young Academy student Warren McGinnis, thereby preventing Terry McGinnis from ever existing.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Everywhere!:
      • For starters, the drama teacher is Simon Trent from Batman: The Animated Series.
      • The girls dorm supervisor Harriet Cooper or Aunt Harriet is a new version of Dick Grayson's long forgotten and written out of continuity Aunt Harriet. This version is not related to Dick, but retains her role as an out of the loop caretaker.
      • The librarian is inspired by the Bookworm, Professor Lilac by Louie the Lilac, and Professor Egger by "Egghead" each an Adam West Bat-villain.
      • The shop teacher Sterling Silversmith is the new less murderous version of a villain who appeared in one Bronze-Age Batman story.
      • Upon his return, it turns out that Heathcliff has joined the Black Canary's band. He also recounts a story to Pom about one of their songs' "dark lyrics" seemingly once summoned creatures from the underworld. Pom has read about this sort of thing before.
      • In a flashback to 1984, Jonathan Crane is referenced on a list of former GA students that opens a Secret Passage when pressed.
      • A big one, which seems minor at first, is the inclusion of Warren McGinnis to the supporting cast. This gets amped up in Gotham Academy Annual #1 with the entire plot (okay, alright, 50% of it) revolving around a time-travelling Derek Powers hell bent on murdering Warren to prevent Terry from being born and turning Powers into Blight.
      • In the final arc, the Fox, the Shark and the Raven are a variation on the animal-masked long-term minor Batman recurring villains the Terrible Trio, although with a Raven replacing a Vulture.
  • Playing with Fire: Calamity gives this power to people in the Silverlock family and its latest target is Olive.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Often, what appears to be supernatural will turn out to be mundane - it's just that Gotham City has a very different standard for constitutes mundane. The students think the school is haunted because they hear chains rattling in the walls and spy glimpses of an inhuman figure? Turns out Killer Croc is living in the secret passages, and he still has his ankle chains on. A witch is enchanting students to do her bidding? Actually, it's a disgruntled teacher using Mad Hatter technology.
  • The Scottish Trope: When the Gotham Academy Dramatic Arts Society puts on a performance of MacBeth, Simon Trent refers to it as "the Scottish Play."
  • Secret Underground Passage: Gotham Academy has an elaborate set of underground passages due to the campus mostly being built by Ambroos Lydecker, who also had a hand in the construction of what would become Arkham Asylum and was the architect of at least one entryway to Wayne Manor. Every place he built has hidden passages but those at the Academy are by far the most extensive.
  • Shout-Out: Might be just a coincidence, but in the Annual, Blight is a skeletal-looking time-travelling villain with a time machine disguised as a long-case clock... which also describes the Master in his two encounters with the Fourth Doctor.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Executed by Colton in Second Semester, #2.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Stated almost verbatim in #17.