SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Gotham Academy: Second Semester” #8, on sale now.
Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl were admittedly surprised that DC Entertainment greenlit their YA ongoing series, “Gotham Academy” three years ago. The fact that they were allowed to actually finish the story they had pitched was a pipedream but as “Gotham Academy: Second Semester” closes it current arc and embarks on its next one, that’s exactly where they are.
The downside to their success – if there is any – is that means things are going to go from bad to worst for their beloved main character Olive Silverlock over the next few months, and that’s saying something considering her current state.
In a spoiler-filled interview about “Gotham Academy: Second Semester” #8, (on sale now), we connected with the creative team behind the series and discussed Olive’s current state, as well as that of her mysterious roommate Amy, who also has some questions to answer.
Cloonan, Fletcher and Kerschl also shared their thoughts on keeping some storylines and plot points open to the readers’ interpretation, teased Olive’s final fate and revealed that Maps’ older brother Kyle, who is also the ex-boyfriend of Olive, is also going to finally ‘get some action’ in the next arc, which is ominously titled, “The Ballad of Olive Silverlock.”
CBR: While this issue was harrowing for a number of reasons, nothing filled my heart with more fear that the note on the final page: “NEXT: THE BALLAD OF OLIVE SILVERLOCK PART ONE! GEAR UP FOR GOTHAM ACADEMY’S FINAL STORY ARC THAT WILL DECIDE THE FATE OF OLIVE AND HER FRIENDS!” Final story arc? Is “Gotham Academy” truly coming to an end?
Brenden Fletcher: No — but it is the end of the big Olive Silverlock story that we wanted to tell from the beginning. We’re going to close off the current series with this Olive story arc.
So, it’s not the end of “Gotham Academy.” It’s like “Glee.” It’s time for some students to graduate.
Becky Cloonan: Exactly. When we first pitched this book back in 2014 – it was a few years ago – this was basically the whole story that we pitched. And we’re coming close to the end and we’ve managed to hit all of the notes that we wanted to hit. The things that we talked about three years ago are all coming to fruition. It’s kind of crazy.
Karl Kerschl: [Laughs] It’s unreal that we were able to actually get to the end of this story. It’s been a wild ride and we’re very grateful to our editors and DC on the whole for letting us tell this story that is much different than the standard superhero fare. It’s been a gift to us.
If you read the forums and Reddit and follow along via social media, one of the questions readers have been debating since the launch of “Gotham Academy: Second Semester” is, who or what is Amy? Do you follow those types of online discussions and debates and worry that you might be giving away too much because, looking back, you certainly dropped some hints over the past eight issues that Amy may be wired a bit differently than the rest of us.
Fletcher: I think some people figured it out, but it’s a balancing game. We just do our best month-to-month to try and share little pieces of who Amy is and why she is there but at the same time, play it out narratively as a bit of a surprise. We knew who and what Amy was from the beginning! [Laughs] We just had to do our best to make it work for the story and hope that it did for everybody.
Kerschl: Dealing with Amy was a lot like dealing with everything else in “Gotham Academy” in that there are themes and plot points that might be familiar to older readers who have experienced a lot of stories over their lives and to take those things and make them surprising for all ages was, I think, the thing that we were most interested in doing. And I think it worked out that way.
Cloonan: When you’re dealing with a mystery, you don’t want to be too obscure or not leave enough hints – even if people are guessing along the way – but you also don’t want to hit them over the head with what’s coming because you would destroy the surprise. I like the idea that some people are able to guess and figure it out.
Watching the actions of Amy and Olive, especially these past few issues, I was thinking a lot about Two-Face and then Maps actually has a line about Harvey Dent’s darker self that makes me think I might have been off. She says, “If she [Olive] was like, Harvey “Two-Face” Dent or somebody, I’d just be like, BAP POW SMACK, but… but… she’s my Olive.” But isn’t Olive like Harvey Dent in that while she can’t be totally responsible for Amy’s actions at the end of day, it’s she that will pay the price just like Harvey Dent always ends up in Arkham Asylum after Two-Face has committed crimes against Gotham?
Fletcher: That’s one of the questions that we are going to address in this next arc. It’s part of the mystery and it’s part of what the rest of the Detective Club needs to unravel. Have they lost their friend? Is their friend under the control of someone else or is she really doing this? And what does this all mean for the history of the Silverlocks, who seemingly have suffered similar fates over the years? What Olive is going through is very similar to what her mother was going through, which is something that Batman battled her over and put her away for. It’s a very sensitive subject that the kids are going to have to wrestle with over the next few issues.
Kerschl: Not just the kids, but Batman, too. He has a bit of struggle over his actions the past few years.
Okay, because I have to ask you — when Olive/Amy shoves Eric over the edge does she/they know that he is going to be saved by Tristan? Because if they didn’t, that certainly makes Olive and Amy far darker characters.
Fletcher: I think it’s a matter of Olive maybe not being fully in control and perhaps Olive wasn’t the one making the decisions. There is a subjective or ambiguous way that part of the story is told in terms of whom is actually making the calls for Olive at that time. [Pauses] But I agree, I think it’s a dark moment.
Cloonan: I think moments like this especially are best left being ambiguous – that’s really important – because I think it says a lot about you as a reader and what you think. I hesitate to answer your question because how you answer these questions as a reader says a lot about yourself and how you feel about the characters. Some questions like that, I prefer to keep ambiguous.
Kerschl: We definitely have ideas in our heads. [Laughs] The way that Eric was treated was not dissimilar to how Hugo Strange was treated at the end of the first arc. And we’re ambiguous about that, too, but Amy is probably not.
We’ve talked about Batman’s role in this book before. He’s always there, even in issues that he doesn’t appear. He obviously heightens the situation for everyone involved, but does he also ground the series, too, as we always know that this is a superhero universe and these are not your typical teenage kids have typical teenage problems?
Fletcher: You’re right. It does heighten things, but it also provides context not only for where the kids are, but where and how things are talking place. This is serious stuff that can affect all of Gotham. Batman doesn’t just get involved for any small mystery at Gotham Academy. And yes, it does also heighten the drama.
Kerschl: We are telling a story about kids, and we do see their parents once in a while, but for me, Batman and Bruce, who is also peripherally around the story, plays the role of the ultimate parental figure. He is this omnipresent figure of authority and he is also very connected to Olive. She’s not exactly his ward but nearly as Batman is responsible for placing her at the school.
Cloonan: Olive is at Gotham Academy on a Wayne scholarship. It’s almost this Batman trickle-down effect. Not only does he affect the story through Wayne Enterprises, but just even day-to-day, by being Batman, because that affects everyone living in Gotham.
In “Gotham Academy: Second Semester” #8, we see Olive’s placement at Gotham Academy actually being questioned by just about everybody. Has Bruce/Batman made a mistake and put others in jeopardy?
Cloonan: That’s something we will continue to explore.
While so much of this series has been focused on the relationship between Olive and Maps, the solicitations for this next arc tease a larger role for Kyle Mizoguchi – Maps’ older brother and Olive’s ex-boyfriend. And that I am sure will make many readers very pleased.
Fletcher: That’s right. Kyle’s finally going to see some action. [Laughs]
Cloonan: He’s waited along time for his day in the sun.
Fletcher: Before we go, we just wanted to add that it’s been such a pleasure to do a YA book in the DC Universe and we are wrapping up this storyline but these characters have a lot more stories to be told. And I think that we can expect to see something in the future. There is definitely a need for my YA books in multiple formats in the market and we really look forward to seeing what comes next.
“Gotham Academy: Second Semester” #8, written by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl and illustrated by Adam Archer and Msassyk is available now.