Over the course of the last year, DC Comics’ GOTHAM ACADEMY has easily been my favorite comic series on the market. From the first issue, I was hooked on the book’s characters, setting, and story, and I would enthusiastically await new issues in a way I hadn’t for a long time. However, the book was even more than that to me. It brought me back into DC Comics after several years away and jumpstarted my writing that had been dormant for a few years, eventually leading me to Comicsverse. Working for this site gave me the opportunity to begin reviewing the book with its seventh issue, and even to interview the creators: co-writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, and artist Karl Kerschl.

READ: Need to catch up on GOTHAM ACADEMY? Check out our reviews here!

The series’ recently released twelfth issue was a major turning point for the series. It ended the book’s first year by wrapping up a major storyline that had been going since the series began. Behind the scenes, it marked the end of Kerschl’s (who defined the book’s unique look and character designs) run on the title. While GOTHAM ACADEMY is already moving forward, I decided that in light of these changes, now would be a good time to take a step back and relate why exactly it is I love this book so much.

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I’ve been a major DC Comics fan for over twenty years of my life, however by October of 2015 I hadn’t read a new DC book in almost three years. While I had initially been in favor of the New 52 reboot, I felt that every book the company put out in the initiative’s early years had the same feel to it, and I eventually just stopped reading the publisher altogether. I didn’t pick up another DC book until I read a copy of the then-new BATGIRL #35 at New York Comic Con 2014. As readers of my ComicsVerse work know well, I really enjoyed the new take on Barbara Gordon and decided to look into the rest of DC’s line.

READ: Check out Brian’s previous entry in the Why I Love series, looking at Barbara Gordon!

Several days after NYCC, I visited my local comic shop and asked if they had anything similar to the new BATGIRL, and was recommended the first issue of GOTHAM ACADEMY. I was immediately hooked by the first issue, liking it even more than BATGIRL. The relationship between the two main characters, brooding and traumatized teen Olive Silverlock and her ex-boyfriend’s younger sister Mia “Maps” Mizoguchi, really spoke to me, as I’ve always been someone who’s had trouble making friends. Beyond that, I fell in love with the look and feel of the book. Cloonan and Fletcher built a deep world from the first issue that mixed the best elements of Harry Potter, Scooby Doo, and a CW drama. They populated said world with a mixture of developed secondary characters and familiar names from the Bat-Canon in unfamiliar roles. Meanwhile, Kerschl’s art was some of the best I’d seen in mainstream comics in years. His characters had an animated look that harkened back to BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, and his backgrounds were gorgeous. The ominous yet somehow also homey design of the titular academy made the building itself feel like a character.   

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As the series went on, I was enthralled by its ongoing storyline. Without any spoilers, from the mystery of the ghost of Millie Cobblebot, to Killer Croc, to the truth about Olive’s mother/Calamity had me hooked all the way through. Meanwhile, the creators continued to nurture the supporting cast, revealing much deeper layers to characters like Pomeline, Colton, and Kyle. Once the principle cast formed a Detective Club and began solving single issue mysteries Scooby Doo style (all the while keeping the aforementioned major storylines at the forefront) the comic started firing on every possible cylinder.

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When I began interning for Comicsverse in April, GOTHAM ACADEMY was the first book I requested to review when DC’s regular titles returned from their CONVERGENCE break. The first issue I had a chance to review was #7, which coincidentally is my personal favorite single issue of the series, as it features Maps teaming up with Robin himself, Damian Wayne. Though I enjoy all the principal characters of the book, Maps has a special place in my heart. Her genuine exuberance for life and adoration for superheroes are traits I can really relate to, and they’ve never been shown better than when she was running around the Academy grounds with Damian taking down her possessed classmates.

READ: Go back and check out our review of GOTHAM ACADEMY #7.

In June of this year, I had the opportunity to attend the Special Edition NYC Convention as an interviewer with ComicsVerse, and the GOTHAM ACADEMY team was the first on my list. I was lucky enough to talk to Cloonan and Kerschl on Saturday and Fletcher on Sunday, and I can honestly say they were some of the most fun interviews I’ve done for this site. They also have my eternal gratitude not only for their time, but for their patience, as I was a rookie interviewer at the time, stumbling over my words more than once and generally full of nerves.

GOTHAM ACADEMY has easily been the best mainstream comic put out over the last year. I wholeheartedly recommend that anyone who hasn’t read it check out the first trade collection of the series, GOTHAM ACADEMY VOLUME 1: WELCOME TO GOTHAM ACADEMY. It collects the first six issues of the series, plus a slew of extras, including sketches and script pages. I sincerely hope that if you do read it, you love it just as much as I do.

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