In June, Gotham Academy gets a new student — Batman's son, Damian Wayne. And although he might be playing the part of scholar, there's more than one agenda as the book further explores Batman's association with main character, Olive Silverlock.
As DC Comics is launching several unusual new comics in June, it's looking more and more like the company is recognizing the benefits and success of having launched Gotham Academy, the ground-breaking new Bat-book from creators Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl.
Set inside a private school in Gotham City, the comic has a moody, digitally painted color palette, and is filled with seemingly dark mysteries that relate to well-known Batman concepts. But the all-ages title also has a joyful innocence about it, with young characters and an animation art style.
With two issues in the past four weeks — Gotham Academy #6 and this week's Gotham Academy Endgame #1 — writers Cloonan and Fletcher have just revealed several new answers to some of the mysteries the began when the comic kicked off last October.
Gotham Academy #6 showed Olive demonstrating the power to start a fire, as she was attempting to save Killer Croc from the hands of Batman. And it revealed that Batman put Olive's mother into Arkham Manor, as well as giving hints about other mysteries central to the ongoing story.
Plus, the comic just added Damian Wayne to its cast, as the boy and his dad, Bruce Wayne, were just shown registering him for classes at the end of #6.
Newsarama talked to Cloonan and Fletcher about the addition of Damian Wayne, the status of all these mysteries that surround the cast, and what's coming up next.
Newsarama: Becky and Brenden, you've constructed this story like a classic mystery, revealing a few clues at a time — even the most recent revelations in March's #6. IWas this series always intended as that type of mystery?
Becky Cloonan: Yeah.
Brenden Fletcher: We did. It was right from the beginning, we started putting together our six-issue plan, and surprisingly, we've held to most of it, especially where the big reveals are planned. Right, Becky? The reveals that we planned for #6 are actually in #6, for the most part.
Cloonan: One could say that "it all went according to plan."
Fletcher: One could say that "I love it when a plan comes together."
Cloonan: It actually came together so organically, The whole series has been a delight to work on.
Nrama: OK, let's talk about some of the reveals. We find out that Olive's mother might have a power related to power? And Olive does as well? Did Olive inherit this?
Fletcher: Does she have a fire power, though? Have we said conclusively that anybody has a fire power?
Nrama: She started the fireworks. And her eyes kind of glow.
Fletcher: I think the case can be made that Olive has some kind of ability. And the case can be made that there is some connection to her mother and her mother's past. But that's still part of the mystery that we'll be exploring. There's a reason for it. And it certainly will come up in the next arc.
Cloonan: Right now, we're going to keep building on the mystery, and I think people will be surprised.
Fletcher: You've received your first bit of clues.
Nrama: At the end of the issue, we find out that Bruce Wayne is having his son Damian register for classes, and it appears that he might have undisclosed motives, since he already got ahold of the diary. What can you tell us about Damian's plans for his time at Gotham Academy? And does this mean we'll see more of Bruce and Batman at Gotham Academy in the summer?
Fletcher: I think we'll leave it a mystery, how much of Bruce and Batman you'll see in Gotham Academy in the coming future, but we are really excited to have Damian joining the student body of Gotham Academy.
From day one, I think everybody was excited to see how his character would bounce off of Maps' character. And that's exactly what we're going to play up, moving into the future.
They're both very unique personalities. And let's just say that they might rub against each other, and might not bounce off each other in the most harmonic way to begin with.
They might rub each other the wrong way.
Nrama: They say opposites attract though.
Cloonan: You never know. We have something really fun planned for them. I think fans of the character will be excited. I'm psyched about it.
Fletcher: We're taking the fun of Gotham Academy and, like, ramping it up times a thousand.
Nrama: But Damian obviously knows something about what these kids have been up to, because we saw him sneaking in to get the diary of Millie Jane Cobblepot. Is he a plant? Or there for more than just education?
Fletcher: That might be possible.
Cloonan: We can't say too much about the reasons why he's there. You'll find out.
Nrama: So many clues! Will we continue to see, in June, the same mix of characters?
Fletcher: Yeah. And #7 in June is going to be a super-fun issue. You'll see the dynamic shift a little bit between the characters, obviously, because Damian is in the mix. But everything's going to come back around, and we're digging into our central mysteries a lot more than we've even seen already.
We're going to answer some big questions in the next story arc.
Nrama: Any plans in the next arc to tie into other Batman books?
Fletcher: There are no plans for a direct tie-in, but there are certainly aspects of what we're doing that are echoes of things in other books, and are echoed in other books.
The most direct is that Damian is in Gotham Academy and Damian has his own series.
Cloonan: In our next arc, we have a lot of information that has to get covered, so it's tough to do a direct tie-in, but we'll have things that tie the comic to Gotham overall. It's fun to do little things like that.
Nrama: Like Terry McGinnis' father. That's him in the last issue, right? And earlier in the series?
Fletcher: It might be!
Cloonan: He might have appeared in Gotham Academy #1 also. We were a little under the radar with that one.
Nrama: There was a new artist listed for June's #7, Mingjue Helen Chen. Is that just one issue she's doing until Karl's back?
Fletcher: Oh, Helen's amazing. Helen did some pages in #6. I think we're kind of looking at Helen as our unofficial back-up artist. She's doing #7, and Karl's back for #8 through #12, I think.
So we're going to try to find a nice rhythm where, you know, Karl can have a break every now and then. We'll try to make it fit naturally with the story, as we did, I think, hopefully, with #6, where Helen did the epilogue tag at the end of the story, as well as a couple flashback beats.
She's amazing. If you look up Helen's bio online, what an incredible career she's got. She's an animation director. She's done wonderful designs for films like Big Hero 6. We're so lucky to have her. And what she's doing is such a great complement to what Karl's doing.
It's amazing because they're big fans of one another's work, so it's great to have them both on the book.
Nrama: And you guys had a tie in to Endgame this week?
Fletcher: Yeah, now that we've kind of wrapped this arc with #6 — and of course, we leave a lot of questions unanswered — we dig into a whole new set of circumstances in our one-shot Gotham Academy Endgame issue.
Plus, there's a fun revelation about a major character in Gotham Academy in that book.
It's also, I'll add, the creepiest issue of Gotham Academy out there yet.
Cloonan: And it's got some phenomenal art on it by Jeff Stokely, Clio Chang, Joy Ang and Vera Brosgol.
Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell people about what's coming up, or anything you want to tell your fans?
Fletcher: We appreciate the support of the fans so much. I see it growing week to week — the people who are just discovering Gotham Academy.
Cloonan: The support we get is phenomenal.
Fletcher: It's incredible, the extent to which our fans are willing to go to share the book with other people and help people find it. We're so appreciative.