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Gotham Academy #14
Written by Brenden Fletcher
Pencils and colors by Adam Archer
Inks by Sandra Hope
Gotham Academy 14
Yearbook, Part 1

Maps is sad (which is literally the worst thing in the world): she can’t join the yearbook committee. She’s joined (re: started) too many clubs, and HOLY COW she just has SO MANY things to put in the yearbook, you guys. Luckily, Olive has a solution: a Maps Scrapbook, so that Maps can make her OWN yearbook, with all the stuff no one should ever put in a real yearbook (so, most of the stuff the GA crew get up to). This sets up a self-consciously cheesy framing device for a “clips show,” where Olive, Maps, and Pomeline share stories. Even Professor MacPherson gets a long-awaited (by me, anyway) backstory. And this is only part 1 of the “yearbook” stories. Each of the three featured stories is definitely its own thing, with very different writing and art styles, so I’m going to break up the review by story, and then give a verdict overall at the end.

“Animal Science 101”
Written by Derek Fridolfs
Illustrated by Dustin Nguyin

The first story revolves around Prank Week, which really needs no explanation. The first panel shows several schoolyard pranks, but Eric and Colton have a more ambitious prank planned for Professor Langstrom. This involves breaking into his lab, and they get MUCH more than they bargained for. The art by Nguyin is scratchy sketches tempered by pastel watercolors, which adds to the mischievous feel to the comic. It’s nice to see the boys getting up to shenanigans without the girls, and the final panel (featuring the punishment for their prank) is hilarious.

“Queen Glee”
Written and illustrated by Katie Cook

Katie Cook takes the Gotham Academy girls and basically writes them into a Nickelodeon cartoon in all the best ways. (Olive and Maps are so cute I just kept staring at them.) The downtrodden Glee Club suddenly gets super popular, and Olive and Maps are suspicious. And, yes, it’s shenanigans. After so much darkness in Olive’s life, its’ really nice to see her having fun and solving mysteries, and Maps is right in her element, saving the day in the best way possible (hint: it involves cats).

“Scottie Dog”
Written by Hope Larson
Illustrated by Kris Mukai

This story is probably the least connected to the overall framing device, as we don’t see Professor MacPherson tell the girls this story. Who cares, this is still a fantastic story. Mukai’s art is 80s-tastic. It’s set in a mall, everything is all hot pink and yellow, and… well… the fashion sense can be summed up with “leg warmers.”  The writing by Hope Larson, though, is what makes this story shine. Isla (MacPherson) is the exchange student with the exotic accent who’s essentially kept as a pet by the popular girls (like, literally, they call her “Scottie Dog”). After they really hurt her feelings, she makes a mysterious friend in the mall… and I’m not going to give away the ending, but it turns unexpectedly emotional. This is probably my favorite of the three stories, as it sends me right back to my awkward high school years (where I unfortunately didn’t have an exotic accent). Larson injects a message of self-acceptance that took me so long to learn.

Verdict

Pick this one up. It doesn’t continue the overall storyline at all, which may annoy some people, but it’s a good jumping on point if you haven’t been reading Gotham Academy (and, really, you should). This would also be a good comic to pick up for younger ages, as it lacks the darkness of the usual storylines: kids will especially dig the Katie Cook story. I can’t wait for the second part in #15.

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