Gotham High is published by DC Comics, written by Melissa de la Cruz, with art by Thomas Pitilli, colors by Minuel Muerto and letters by Troy Peteri. When Bruce Wayne is kicked out of his prep school for fighting he finds himself headed back to his hometown of Gotham City. There, under the watchful eye of his Uncle Alfred, Bruce will reunite with his childhood friend Selina Kyle. And it would seem he’s also arrived just in time for a rash of kidnappings to plague Gotham’s teens. He may not be the world’s greatest detective yet, but he’s still on the case.
It’s always gotta be a daunting task to put a new spin on a classic tale. Trying to create something fresh, while still keeping true to a story’s core is a difficult balancing act. Sadly, it is a balancing act that Gotham High ultimately fails. With so little of what forms the Batman myth preserved in this tale it feels like the names were kept purely to draw attention. The only aspect of the story kept intact is the murder of the Waynes while being robbed. Though in this case it is a home invasion, and not a mugging in the infamous Crime Alley that dispatches Bruce’s parents.
Alfred takes the form of an initially disinterested uncle, who can only drag himself back to Gotham when his charge has no place else to go. Every character appearance here follows the same suit. The name is recognizable, but the personality and purpose are almost irreconcilable from there original personas. There only purpose seeming to make sure that the names of Batman, and his various gallery of support cast, help them move copies. Perhaps there was some reason to be concerned with just how many copies this story would move without them.
While there isn’t much wrong with Gotham High’s story, there are few points to really make it stand out. Selina’s character is fun, and fairly entertaining during the stretches of the book which she provides narration for. Otherwise, there is a stoic rich kid that might one day become a super hero, and a trickster boy named Jack, who likes to hustle rich kids at cards. They are fairly one note, and generally don’t dive any deeper than what they initially present themselves as. These characters, along with the rest of the supporting cast, are serviceable in their various roles. They each play their part in Gotham High’s story well enough to keep the plot moving along.
That plot consists of Bruce Wayne returning to Gotham High only to become the target of nefarious kidnappers. As Bruce attempts to lure his assailants into the open, he must also protect his friends from getting caught in the crossfire. There is a bit of a spark of the Batman to be here, as he utilizes detective skills, as well as tech, to get the information he needs. Though where he came across such skills and equipment is never really mentioned. Maybe they are teaching the kids more at prep schools these days than I thought.
The strongest point of Gotham High is its artistic presentation. Artist Pitilli does a great job of capturing the mood, and energy of each scene. Whether it’s a dark alley, a banging rave, or a romantic rooftop moment, the art always enhances what the story is parenting the reader.
This wonderful art work is also augmented by Muerto’s colors. Lots of vibrant colors splash across these pages, helping to capture the energy of the youthful characters the story focuses on. At least where appropriate. When scenes get darker the colors adapt nicely to allow these moment to stand in contrast to the lighter points in the story.
Lastly, the lettering in Gotham High does a solid job of delivering the story. Text boxes are well placed, and kept clear for easy reading. I never once lost track of the order of dialogue, nor did I ever struggle to read the story itself.
When all is said and done Gotham High delivers a passable tale that feels like it banks to highly on it’s characters names to get by. With these individuals hardly recognizable as their namesakes the story falls a bit flat, though there are occasional flashes of genuine character to be enjoyed.
Gotham High is available now wherever comics are sold.
When all is said and done Gotham High delivers a passable tale that feels like it banks to highly on it’s characters names to get by.