SYNOPSIS: Gotham Academy is back in session in the first part of Karl Kerschl’s thrilling three-part Batman adventure, guest-starring Maps Mizoguchi and Tristan Grey! Kirk Langstrom, formerly Man-Bat, now clean of his serum for years, is teaching at Gotham Academy. But Man-Bat is menacing the city. Has Dr. Langstrom fallen off the wagon, or is there a deeper, far more sinister, plan afoot? Plus, a Batman Black & White tale from Dan Watters and Ricardo López Ortiz!

Fans of the 2014-2016 series Gotham Academy take note! Mia “Maps” Mizoguchi is back aiding The Caped Crusader in a fun mystery that plays like a fresh throwback to a bygone era!

“Mother’s Day, Part One” is written and drawn by Karl Kerschl and begins one year ago. Fans of the ‘70s and ‘80s Bat aesthetic will be happy-Batman’s costume is leaning towards the blue and gray, replete with yellow oval and capsule belt. It looks fantastic under Kerschl’s pencil! His Batman feels like his own distillation of Garcia-Lopez, Adams, and Mora, both classic and contemporary.

After the opening scene, Kerschl jumps to now, finding Bruce Wayne accompanied by the Academy’s Professor Isla Macpherson to a social event. The plot really kicks into gear here as Bruce finds a supermodel laying semi-conscious with two bite marks on her neck. Noticing the perpetrator flying off, Bruce springs into action, locating one of the two hundred and fifty caches he has throughout the city to enable a quick change into the Caped Crusader.

There’s a great sense of fun to this whole sequence. I miss seeing Bruce the Playboy and there’s a wonderful sense of excitement as Batman encounters Man-Bat, simultaneously struggling with him high in the air and trying to intuit what is happening. Combined with his suit, it lends to this “old school” feeling of Batman, especially when Maps appears as his Robin, a plot point from various prior stories featuring the Gotham Academy crew.

Maps makes for a precocious ally, eager to help Batman, and with her glasses serving as a domino mask, may remind readers of Carrie Kelly. Kerschl gives you just a taste of how she and the Dark Knight work together and I appreciate the insights into her detective skills, complete with her checklist for going out.

Kerschl packs in a lot of different elements to this story and illustrates it with a great deal of confidence. I’ve always been a fan of his work and it shines here. This is a three-parter, ending on a cliffhanger, so there are plenty of elements to keep readers returning for the next installment.

Not to be left out, the Batman: Black & White entry is written by Dan Watters with art by Ricardo Lopez Ortiz. Dubbed “The Cheeseburger”, I knew from the start this story was going to be off-beat and it did not let me down from that perspective. Opening with Batman pondering the composition of his pre-workout shake, his training routine later gets interrupted by Clayface attacking Buddy’s Burger Palace. What follows is a beautifully illustrated action sequence as Batman confronts the problem and gets to the route of Clayface’s motivation. It takes some talent to combine the ridiculous with the tragic, but Watters pulls it off. Ortiz’s art has a manga influence, lending itself to the big eyes and energetic panels one would expect. It all fits together so brilliantly and comes to a satisfying conclusion.

I can’t speak to the non-Batman stories in this issue, but once again, I finished The Brave & The Bold thinking to myself, “Man, I love Batman!” With a great mix of humor and horror, fun and drama, I felt like I got a satisfying dose of my favorite hero. If you’re new to Gotham Academy, don’t worry! There are plenty of familiar aspects of the Caped Crusader to carry you through! Launching a new arc, I highly recommend you give this book a try for some entertaining stories! Javier E. Trujillo







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Javier Trujillo
Javier E. Trujillo was a Batman fan long before the 1989 blockbuster opened on his 12th birthday. After following BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM -- the "Dad-Gum Original" -- since its inception, he started to write for BoF in 2019, covering Batman's 80th anniversary. He's a lover of all eras and aspects of The Dark Knight, but artist Jim Aparo will always be how he pictures him. When on the internet, odds are it's because he's talking about Batman or James Bond (or MAYBE Wally West). He resides in the "Live Music Capital of the World" (and also the genesis of Adam West's Bat-Boat), Austin, TX. You can follow him on Twitter @JaviTru or on Instagram @TheBondIsNotEnough.