The Son of Batman has infiltrated Gotham Academy in Gotham Academy #7 written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher
A strange raven (and a quill) is causing mayhem at the school and it’s up to a magically bonded Maps and Damian to solve the case. Being said it does indeed star Maps for a change while Olive is “out” presumably at a doctor or hospital (Maps is a giant dork she’s so endearing) and actually stars a really refreshing take on Damian. Classmates are starting to act strangely and it’s believed to be sourced from some magical cursed Raven. Damian and Maps subsequently find themselves bonded together by the hand so they’ll have to work together to get unstuck. Can they do it? Yes they can!
Mingjue Helen Chen’s art is amazing and she should be put to use all the time on the title. It’s cute and fits the title’s decided upon eastern manga styling meets western cartoon look, while adding her own line-less storybook-esque feel to it. It’s softer, more painterly but still carries the series’ oddly animation ready or screencap feel. DC really needs to get to work on a cartoon series derived or inspired by this book, I think it would do amazingly. Plus it sounds cool anyway: Gotham Academy. What a great vehicle for Klarion and Zantanna, Nocturna, Ragman and lesser used Gothamites.
Comparisons to Disney are common for Chen’s work apparently, but I definitely see a fine balance between Japanese and Western cartoons in the art, particularly the former in Maps’ daydreams, literal heart eyes and later flat faced chibis. This is the kind of paneling that is fun and exciting and western comics do not “play” in the same way with media which is ironic considering our MGM and Looney Tunes cartoon legacies.
Outside of the way Patrick Gleason draws him features wise, this is to my knowledge the first obvious art I can think of that makes Damian look multi-ethnic (which he is) and I’m pretty sure the first use of a tan/olive (no pun intended) skintone on the kid. All the characters are rendered appealingly but Damian in particular is refreshing considering he’s usually lily white looking.
I’m still really confused as to how Damian’s able to stick around the school passingly as a visiting student, unless being Bruce Wayne’s son enables him to just hover. I’d also like to know how it’s possible for him to be taller than Maps (How old is he supposed to be now anyway?) since I thought he was in the 12-13 range while Olive and Maps were more of the 14-16 crowd but regardless they’re both tiny.
The story itself is nothing over the top but the cute and funny dialogue and Chen’s art makes Gotham Academy #7 super appealing for all ages. Go throw money at it cause it deserves it big time. I really think this type of stuff will be the way to go for DC’s survival, and it’s different so I can’t offer anything but highest marks because of it standing out. Gotham Academy is worth every penny.