Monday, January 26, 2015

Early Thoughts on Gotham Academy #4

I mentioned over the weekend that I got a chance to read an early copy of this week's Gotham Academy #4, and promised some spoiler-free thoughts coming later in the week, and here I am, delivering the goods.

If you've read any of my thoughts on the series prior to this post, you know that one of the most prominent things I've had to say about this book is that it's a title that on paper, I should have no interest in, but the fact of the matter is, Gotham Academy has become one of my favorite books that DC publishes, and this week's issue continues to cement that idea.

Issue #4 is one of those issues that would normally frustrate me from the very first page. Last month's cliffhanger is forgone in favor of a cold "well that sure was some shit" open. Why these openings usually bother me is because more often or not, the cliffhanger they decide to pass on doesn't usually get resolved in a timely fashion... Not Gotham Academy though, by the end of this issue, #3's cliffhanger is resolved, and not only that, but it helps push the "mythology" if you will, of the series even further, while answering a few off-hand mysteries from all the way back to issue #1. By the end of this issue, it is clear that there is a very solid plan behind Gotham Academy, a plan for every little scene, be it something as simple as one of the characters finding a button on the ground.

I've mentioned how much I love this series for its actual utilization of Gotham (rather than just saying it's set in Gotham and asking everyone to totally buy-in because of it), which continues in the final scene in a big way, but on top of that, it's the plan behind the series that continues to unfold each issue which has really gotten its hooks in me. I think it's pretty fair in saying that a lot of books published by the big two often come off as someone playing with their action figures while saying "and then this is going to happen! and then this! THEN THAT!" out loud. While I'll admit, I can get behind some big dumb action story from time to time, when you're cynical to begin with and already read a shit ton of comics, those books can get tiresome after awhile, and end up dropped from my pull. Gotham Academy is not one of those books by any means, and the final pages of this issue prove that very convincingly. You truly get the sense that Gotham Academy is building towards something that will offer plenty of payoff if you allow yourself to get invested. I'm not reading this book out of habit, simply because it's set in Gotham or has Batman in, which is a curse I'll seem to be eternally doomed to, but I digress... I'm reading Gotham Academy because I want to. This is one of those few books that I have absolute faith in regards to how it's spending my time. I feel that once this book starts answering questions (the first round of which, may be coming as early as next month) that I'll be able to walk away feeling entirely satisfied rather than simply going "huh," then moving on to the next book, which happens a lot. Gotham Academy is just one of those books that will instantly matter to you if you give it a chance, and issue #4 just leaves you wanting more.

It should also be mentioned that Gotham Academy continues to be one of the most unique looking books out there, be it DC, Marvel, Image, Boom, whatever. No other book has a look quite as distinctive as Gotham Academy, and despite some trouble keeping colorists on board (worthwhile interview on that subject here, by the way) the animated look and feel continues to be some of the best comic eye-candy ever in this week's issue.

To put this post to bed, it should be worth noting how much effort I've put into it. I've been running this site for somewhere near five years now, which quite honestly has been a drain at some points. I'll be the first one to admit that my interest in being as detailed and thought provoking as I once was has drained over the past couple of years, leaving me often sticking to my casual/simple approach to my posts... But not this time. Gotham Academy is a book that's worth the effort of me sitting down and actually planning out what I want to say about it. It's a book that I'm (clearly) invested in and flat out care about. So when I tell you that Gotham Academy is one of my favorite books on the stands right now, you can take that to the bank. There's no hyperbole, no buying in to hype for hype's sake, it's just that damn good of a book, and everyone who has any interest in Gotham and the characters within it, should give it a solid chance.

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