UNDERCOVER evaluates 'Gotham Academy Semester Two' #12

Cover to ‘Gotham Academy: Second Semester’ #12. Art by Karl Kerschl/DC Comics

By Arpad Okay. Gotham is on fire. Olive Silverlock is possessed, and only her friends from Gotham Academy can exorcise her demons. If they fail, their city burns. The Academy, the Asylum, Wayne Manor — everything and everyone caught up in Olive’s haunted past and the evil architectural machinations of Gotham’s city planners. Sound intense? It’s the end of Olive’s sophomore year, so expect no less.

The story unfolds at a breakneck pace. The gang finds themselves braving burning buildings, robbing graves, and fighting adolescent cultists, yet Gotham Academy maintains a lighthearted optimism. Serious and silly collide. Olive’s pyrotechnics may have put everyone in danger, but there’s still time to play dress up or send unwanted calls straight to voicemail. It wouldn’t be Gotham Academy if they weren’t cracking jokes in the face of death.

Kids will be kids.

Interior page to 'Gotham Academy Second Semester' #12. Art by Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, and MSASSYK/DC Comics

Interior page to ‘Gotham Academy: Second Semester’ #12. Art by Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, and MSASSYK/DC Comics

The art is as youthful and dire as the story. MSASSYK is a real hero this issue, her colors superb and essential. The fires that burn up the bulk of the book glow, and they clash sublimely with the inhuman spectral blues of the spirits that plague Olive. The memories in monochrome underscore the separation of flashback and contemporary parallels without betraying them.

And the characters, even those in the background, are given palettes that heighten their roles. Olive and Maps both pop. Even wreathed in flames their bold colors paint them as the superheroes of the story. Pom, Colton, and Kyle have a muted scheme that ties them together as a team, the (true) Detective Club. Even the different locales around Gotham share a largely similar chromatic key, one of dead leaves, browns, purples, earth tones.

That uniformity of Gotham is of real importance here. Olive’s story is a reflection of the city as a whole. The Asylum is as much a part of Gotham’s history as the Academy. Olive’s powers are out of control, but they’re out of control because of her past. She deserves help, warts and all, and Maps in a mask could well be part of the problem. Putting criminals in prison after the crime has been done doesn’t solve anything. It’s too late. Olive doesn’t need the kind of help you get from Batman. She needs her friends.

DC Comics/$2.99

Written by Brendan Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, and Karl Kerschl.

Pencils by Adam Archer.

Inks by Sandra Hope.

Colors by MSASSYK.

Breakdowns by Rob Haynes.

Letters by Steve Wands.

8.5 out of 10