Gothan Academy Second Semester Volume 1 by Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, Karl Kerschl

Gothan Academy Second Semester, Volume 2, is a frustrating book: all the elements are there for something that should be really great but just never seems to coalesce. Choppy storytelling, odd characterizations, and maguffins that baffle rather than tease make it hard to find any credible belief in the ‘twist’ at the end. But then again, the art is quite beautiful and one has to appreciate the ‘Buffy meets Scooby Doo’ approach.

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Synopsis: Olive gets a new roommate but she’s quite a handful. And when students go missing, including Maps, her brother forms a posse to find his missing sister. Pom, meanwhile, is getting close the source of her family’s power and history – but she’s not the only person searching and things are going to get very complicated soon. Pom and Olive are more closely related in history than either supposed.

The interesting thing about Gotham Academy is that the characters are incredibly selfish and often very hard to really like. Each seems to be pursuing their own ends, often at the expense of their friends. I had a hard time liking any of the characters even though I do want them to find the ‘secrets’ each houses. In all honesty, there’s some really nasty and reprehensible actions by our heroes, some voluntary and some not. It’s hard to believe people accept it and don’t question what’s going on. I’m not sure I want to read a story about friends not helping each other and insulting those who do.

The art, as always, is brilliant. Stylized but friendly, the color schemes of varying warm and then cool tones is quite stunning. If I liked the characters or the story better, I think I would absolutely love Gotham Academy. But the whole “Harry Potter” homage (read: rip off) got old fast, as if the writer was alternately dismissing yet also capitalizing on that fan base. The ugly message in the pretty picture was disingenuous.

Those interested in Olive’s past will finally get some closure as we learn a lot more about her. The story ends on a cliffhanger to set up Volume 2. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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