Gotham Academy #7 – Comic Review

Maps Mizoguchi swings over Gotham Academy campus, and sorts through tough gothic literature and dark magic.Gotham Academy #7 tells a mystery story about magical artefacts and scientific acumen.

Gotham Academy #7 offers:

  • Expressive, bright, and vibrant artwork that balances light and shade
  • A mystery with high stakes to solve
  • Themes of magic versus science

The comic builds a gothic world with expressive and vibrant characters, and a strong sense of light and shade that highlights or mutes characters and actions. Artwork also creates some humorous scenes involving a grappling gun.

Quotes from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven build a suitable gothic setting, alongside artwork depicting The Batman standing on the parapets of a Gothic castle – specifically a Scottish castle in a place called Inishtree.

Characters who inhabit the gothic setting of Gotham Academy have highly expressive and vibrant faces. The artwork has a strong sense of light and shade, which it recruits to mute or highlight actions and objects.

Maps reacts romantically to using a grappling gun. Damian Wayne carries the abseiling and climibing device with him. The pair make use of Batman Inc. technology to make an escape across the academy campus. When she sees the grappling gun, the panel changes dramatically. Maps is a prince, and the grapple gun draped in a wedding veil and pearls. It’s an overly exaggerated, romantic reaction to the technology. Soft, pink colours contrast with the black, mechanical shape of the gun. An unusual and hilarious scene.

There’s a mystery to solve, which has high stakes, and helpful and unhelpful teachers. Damian Wayne adds weight to the comic, while Maps leads the way.

Damian Wayne and Maps Mizoguchi become attached to each other. Literally, their hands become bound together by some unseen, magical force. Solving the mystery of why their hands are tied becomes the narrative force. There’s a lot at stake here. What cold be worse than magically holding hands with the new boy at high school?

While they recruit the help of the experienced teacher, Professor Macpherson, a less helpful teacher named “Mr.Scarlet” enjoys having power over students. He is smug and delighted to have found a student not paying attention. For a man who says that “books are very delicate creatures”, it’s unusual for him to slam a copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry onto Maps’ desk with such force.

The character clearly has no problems in being inauthentic and lying if it means he can control or take advantage of others. Damian Wayne comments that the inauthentic “Mr.Scarlet” is teaching useless drivel to the class. An indictment from Robin holds weight.

Science and magic themes appear here, and different explanations – both scientific and magical – are brought up to explain what the Inishtree Quill is, and how it affects reality off the page.

There is a constant back and forth between scientific information and magical lore. The comic plays out a science and magic theme, similar to how other DC comics have explored a sorcery versus technology theme.

The big discussion involves the use of a specific quill – the Inishtree quill. The feather seems to come from an enchanted bird. Writing with the quill casts spells, causing the writers thoughts to become somewhat real. Another explanation is that the quill contains a specific train of avian flu native to the British isles, and the quill has infected several students of Gotham Academy.

The large question remains afterward – is the quill magic?

The reason that Maps’ and Damian are magically tied to together appears to be Maps writing “Maps Mizoguchi + Damian Wayne” in her notebook with the Inishtree Quill. When the note Maps wrote is crossed out, their hands are untied. This resembles the magical item Deathnote from the anime and manga of the same name, where writing names in the Deathnote itself could affect reality, and prove fatal. Mr. Scarlet says that Maps made a choice, and clung to Damian like a limpet on a rock. We know, however, that Mr.Scarlet is not credible.

Maps may have more challenges approaching, as a message from Professor Macpherson ends the comic book on a cliffhanger.


Gotham Academy #7 is published by DC Entertainment ($2.99USD). Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher (W.) Mingjue Helen Chen (A.) Steve Wands (L.) Cover artwork by Becky Cloonan.

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