So often, a tie-in to a crossover means one thing: everything’s on hold while the crossover rampages through the comic. With that in mind, “Gotham Academy” #13 cheerfully bucks the trend. Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer and Sandra Hope take advantage of the tie-in to “Robin War” to not only show what happens when Riko is shipped off to the academy by her parents, but also to add another new face to the series and strengthen some bonds.
Fletcher’s story gives us a chance to reinforce the bonds between Olive and Maps. Riko’s temporary assignment as Olive’s new roommate is a great way to bring up those feelings of jealousy and doubt on Maps’ part, even as it ultimately affirms the friendship between the two. This duo is the heart and soul of “Gotham Academy” and this issue just solidifies that core. At the same time, though, “Gotham Academy” #13 doesn’t lose sight of the fact that this is a “Robin War” comic. We get to see everything Riko was talking about in “Robin War” #1, even down to the flipside of the scene when she’s on the phone with Duke. Fletcher also uses the Court of Owls’ plans in “Robin War” to good effect, as a mysterious figure inside the greenhouse is roused (and promptly named a zombie by the students). It’s something that will seemingly have a lasting effect on the title, and I appreciate that “Gotham Academy” #13 isn’t a throwaway or skippable part of the series.
With regular series artist Karl Kerschl sadly having moved on to other projects, Archer and Hope step in to draw “Gotham Academy” #13. Archer’s style has a slightly cartoonish approach like Kerschl’s, but it still looks distinctly different. Archer’s approach looks less like a series of animation cels and is instead a bit more like a traditional comic art. The inks from Hope help ground the panels into that realm, giving the characters harder edges but not losing a nice, smooth curve to elements like hair and faces. The progression from one panel to the next is easy to follow, and the action sequences are energetic and fun. If Archer and Hope stick around as the regular series artists, it would be a good fit.
With Maps’ past connection to Red Robin, “Gotham Academy” #13 made perfect sense to be a tangential tie-in to “Robin War.” The initial anger and then attraction Maps shows towards Riko is fun, and the final page sets up some great potential for Maps in the issues to come. “Gotham Academy” fans shouldn’t be scared off by the “Robin War,” and “Robin War” readers shouldn’t be afraid to look at “Gotham Academy.” It’s a win-win situation.