I really enjoyed what writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher did with the first volume of the series, along with the art from Karl Kerschl. This naturally led me to anticipate vol. 2, which has turned out to be a letdown. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong here as the smooth, engaging storytelling from the first volume has been replaced by something more disjointed and hyperactive. Take the opening story, which features Maps teaming up with new arrival to the school, Damian Wayne, to solve the mystery of the Inishtree Quill that has bound them together and is causing her friends to act crazy. The mystery is hazily developed with drama coming from how members of the cast suddenly start acting wildly out of character. I will say that Maps and Damian make a good team, and I was looking forward to seeing how the latter would interact with the rest of the series’ characters. Unfortunately, he was only guest-starring for that issue. If this was the plan all along, then why was his appearance set up at the end of the previous volume? I was expecting bigger things from Damian’s role here. At least the issue had some tremendously appealing art from Mingjue Helen Chen.
Kerschl returns for the following issue and maintains the high standard he set for himself in the previous volume. The problem is that now he’s illustrating a haphazard collection of stories that has Olive, Maps, and co. dealing with the likes of Tristan the Man-Bat, a werewolf, the drama club, one of Batman’s B-list rogues, and a field trip to Gotham City. Things jump around so much that it’s hard for the narrative to build up much interest or momentum, even when it has the overarching mystery of Olive’s mom to tie everything together. We do learn more about this deceased(?) supervillain, but not enough to make for a satisfying read in the end. There’s one more volume of this series scheduled to come out before it takes a several-month hiatus to return for “Rebirth.” Hopefully vol. 3 will get things back on track and show me that the quality of vol. 1 wasn’t any kind of fluke.