It’s been a relief to see “Gotham Academy’s” four-part “Yearbook” storyline work out so well. Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer and Sandra Hope offer a framing device for other creators to tell stories about the main cast of characters. Thankfully, what we’ve ended up with has been a lot of fun thanks to a careful selection of creators, and “Gotham Academy” #16 allows other creators like James Tynion IV and Ken Niimura to tell short stories at the boarding school.
In “Maps’ Day Out,” James Tynion IV and Christian Wildgoose explore Maps’ obsession with Batman in four pages; it’s the perfect length for this story, where we see Maps’ determination to meet Batman as well as her own limitations laid out in a fun and cute way. Tynion nails Maps’ overall enthusiasm, and Wildgoose’s art is attractive in how it portrays her innocent and overeager face. Fletcher, Archer and Hope’s follow-up with Damian Wayne is also pretty spot-on, too; they channel just the right amount of righteous indignation and jealousy, which helps define the character.
That said, the big showcase of “Gotham Academy” #16 is Ken Niimura’s story “Boring Sundays.” I was surprised to see Niimura’s art, which — with its stripped-down style — isn’t what you’d associate with a superhero-connected title. I loved his work on “I Kill Giants,” though, and his appearance here was very welcome. The increasing annoyance on Maps’ face as she gets bored on a Sunday is hysterical, and I love how Kyle and Colton’s admirers have little hearts in their eyes over the idea of playing doubles with them.
As great as the character reactions are, though, I also found myself charmed by the smaller details, like Maps running through the forested area outside of the school. Niimura’s colors are beautifully vivid, and there’s a real sense of joy in that entire sequence. Niimura’s art creates a world that is inviting and fun, and Maps’ enthusiasm and need for something to do with her friends comes across crystal clear.
“Gotham Academy” #16 — and all of the “Yearbook” storyline so far — could have felt like a lot of filler. While I’m eager for the main storylines to pick back up this fall, this is a nice, inviting way to pass the time until then.