The first volume of this series was pretty great. The second was a disappointing mess. If you’ve been following my writing here for an extended period of time, then you’ve probably seen me (repeatedly) mention my hopes that this third volume will help get “Gotham Academy” back on track. Well, “Yearbook” is a lot different than those previous volumes in that it’s an anthology of short stories from many different creators, with some connective material from regular co-writer Brenden Fletcher and artist Adam Archer.
It’s actually pretty good as far as these things go. I imagine the idea behind this approach was to not only give a lot of talented writers and artists a crack at the characters and setting of “Gotham Academy,” but to help flesh out its world as well. So you’ve got Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen showing us why it’s a bad idea to raid Dr. Langstrom’s lab during prank week, Ken Niimura revealing what length Maps will go to in order to bring some mystery and fun into her friends’ lives, and David Petersen recounting the academy legend of four geeks who were never heard from again after they went to play Serpents and Spells in a secret passage. Faith Erin Hicks even shows up for a two-pager about Maps’ driving lessons. That the majority of these stories are pretty entertaining is an achievement in itself for a volume whose main arc is basically an anthology.
Yeah, I said “main arc.” There are regular and extra-sized stories bookending the “Yearbook” arc of varying quality. “Robins vs. Zombies” is a mediocre tie-in to the “Robin War”storyline and it doesn’t do the series any favors by trying to wedge in current “Batman” events into its world. Fortunately “Broken Hearts” fares much better as Colton and Pomeline pursue competing theories -- vampire infestation vs. mad professor -- regarding Olive’s current illness. It’s a fun adventure with ties to the wider Bat-mythos that serve the story well, though you’ll get more out of it if you’re a fan of “Batman Beyond.” This was a nice way to close out the volume after a successful anthology. Consider me back on board with the coming “Second Semester” for this series.