The world of Gotham Academy takes a turn for the creepy in Gotham Academy: Endgame #1. This issue’s setup is a classic campfire storytelling. Several teens are trapped in the Academy’s gymnasium during the Joker virus emergency in Gotham City. To pass the time and entertain themselves they tell ghost stories, each a variant of a Joker tale. Take a traditional telling of ghost stories; add in the Batman mythos, and voila! You have Endgame.
While a framing sequence by Gotham Academy mainstays Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher runs throughout, the three main stories are given over to storytellers new to the series. It’s fun to see the characters handled by other talents, and though these three stories stand on their own, the transitions are so flawless it’s easy to read as a whole.
The first – “Pomeline’s Story” – has a classic horror feel with script and art by Clio Chiang and soft watercolors by Sonia Oback. “Pomeline’s Story” has a Twilight Zone creep factor, with its tale of a boy who buys a Joker mask only to become a mask himself. It’s a good jumping-off point for the issue. As the least frightening it fits the layout of the stories; and like most slumber parties, the softest tale is told first.
Next – “MacPherson’s Story” – has the feel of an old-world fable. While more violent than “Pomeline’s Story,” the art by Joy Ang is just as beautiful. Ang (who also wrote the story) makes use of shadow play storytelling, drawing the most horrifying images in relief. This classic storytelling device blends well with the more modern look of Ang’s images. Oback is put to great use here. In her hands, the images become crisp and vibrant. This middle tale is easily the strongest of the three, and it alone makes the book worth picking up.
The final tale – “Olive’s Story” – is in the vein of urban legends. While it’s not as strong as the previous two, it has the most in common with the main Gotham Academy series. Its themes on the difference between projection and reality are the mirror of series star Olive’s life. Centering on a tale of a boy who plays a Bloody Mary-esque game wherein children summon the Joker by telling a vile joke, “Olive’s Story” is brought to vivid life by Vera Broscol, whose cartoonish art style meshes nicely with this horrific scenario.
Overall, Gotham Academy: Endgame #1 is a good read for both fans of the series who want a side dish or those looking for a story that’s more tightly tied into the main Batman universe. Even if you haven’t been reading the regular run of Gotham Academy, I recommend picking this one up for its fun take on Joker myths and the fantastic art of Stokely, Chiang, Ang and Brosgol.