by Stefania Rudd. It’s winter break, and poor Olive is stuck at Gotham Academy by herself. *sigh* While the old creaky mansion may feel like home whenever her friends are around, it sure gets lonely when the hallways are empty. As the end of the break nears, just before the students returns for their autumnal acclimation, Olive discovers a new student has begun making herself at home… in Olive’s room. The two quickly butt heads when the new girl, Amy, begins to pry into Olive’s life, but the loneliness has gotten to Olive, and she soon lets her guard down. Which may not be a smart idea — after all, Amy is a disruptive trouble-maker. 

There’s a certain amount of joy in knowing that the writing team of Brendan Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, and Karl Kerschl have returned to Gotham Academy. We have been gifted more time with Olive, her fellow students, the mysteries surrounding them, and most importantly, their loves, fears, and hopes. Another tantalizing morsel comes our way in the form of insight as to the mystery of Gotham Academy itself, and its ominous connection to Arkham Asylum. But this issue deals primarily in the thoughts of Olive herself, which feels refreshing — when you have a book with a large cast of characters such as this, it’s nice to have some one-on-one time to help regroup for the next adventure.

The list of artists that have brought this issue to life is a large one, but they share an incredible cohesion. Msassyk’s painterly backgrounds provide a canvas for Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Chris Sotomayor, and Serge LaPointe’s detailed and beautifully rendered characters to properly shine. I love the richness found in the little details of this book, like a glowing candle, steam from a cup of tea, the softness of the snow… there is a world here to inhabit, and the art team of Gotham Academy take large strides in making it feel real.

A great start to a new arc, Gotham Academy: Second Semester #1 sets up another year’s worth of mystery wonderfully. Trying to fit the puzzle pieces of together with the Detective Club would be a fun and engaging enough story on its own, but when you throw in bad apple Amy… things are about to get very interesting, indeed. School is back in session in Gotham City, which feels precious somehow; it’s something we knew we wanted but we didn’t know how much until it appeared. I suppose that’s what Gotham Academy is — it’s something that’s become very precious to us. A gift.

DC Comics/$2.99

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

Art by Adam Archer; inks by Sandra Hope.

Colors by Msassyk, Chris Sotomayor and Serge LaPointe.

Letters by Steve Wands.

8.5 out of 10