Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl and Msassyk’s “Gotham Academy” #10 brings a dense story that puts the Detective Club onstage to solve the mystery of the Phantom Olive saw last issue. With heavy dose of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” sprinkled throughout, Olive Silverlock and Katherine Karlo are at the center of the story as “The Cursed Play” struggles to find its cast and welcome the opening night curtain.
Cloonan and Fletcher take readers backstage with the kids of the Academy, who try to balance memorizing the performance with solving the mystery. At the peak of suspense, the story reads like a set of storyboards from a Scooby Doo mystery. The Shakespeare script fills the dead spaces throughout the panels, but letterer Marilyn Patrizio does a fine job balancing the presentation of the word balloons with preserving the art from Kerschl and colorist Msassyk.
Art-wise, “Gotham Academy” #10 is the most inconsistent issue of the series to date. Some pages and panels are exquisite, but the immediate panels before and after are merely serviceable. More often than not, the characters surpass caricatures in appearance and become downright cartoony. The drawings aren’t the only hit-or-miss aspect of the comic, as the coloring fluctuates in depth and detail. Some scenes work better with less color-defined detail, but the visual inconsistencies make the issue feel rushed. Other panels, such as the appearance from the surprise antagonist, are gorgeous collaborations from layout to lettering. It’s just unfortunate that the issue contains so many artistic peaks and valleys instead of consistent goodness.
“Gotham Academy” #10 struggles early, seemingly stretching to fill the pages of the entire issue. Cloonan and Fletcher make a gutsy decision to present so much of the rehearsal of “Macbeth,” which mostly pays off but might have been better served splitting the space with more action. This isn’t the greatest single issue of “Gotham Academy,” but it does a great job of stressing the “Gotham” part of the title, raising mysteries, connecting clues and giving readers incentive to return next issue. I just hope the book brings back some more energy and consistency in chapters to come.