By Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, Karl Kerschl, Adam Archer, Msassyk, Sandra Hope, Rob Haynes, Steve Wands
Colton Riveria is about to be expelled from Gotham Academy and only his Detective Club friends can devise a way to clear his name…
After an enjoyable and spooky diversion to the past, the story is back to the present as the Detective Club members stop a hypnotic villain from burning secrets, but one of their own is in a more serious danger. Colton stumbled into Professor Scarlet’s private office and stole his ancient map of Old Gotham before being caught by its original owner, Headmaster Hammer. Suspecting the errant Colton as the thief, Hammer orders him expelled as punishment.
Right away, what makes this issue so enjoyable are the stakes. Colton’s friends have to prove his innocence and discover what Professor Scarlet was doing with the map in the first place. Unlike fighting monsters/bad guys, the task here is not so easy and requires finesse and patience. It’s simply a tense story of kids doing what the grownups won’t, which is give someone the benefit of the doubt and look harder at a mystery. Even the inclusion of Bruce Wayne is short and sensible in the story, which is appreciated. This series is best when not relying on Batman or other flashy characters and instead focusing on the cast and their relationships.
The art team is expansive this issue, comprising a person for breakdowns, backgrounds, and colors. Fittingly, this looks like the most careful and beautiful book DC could publish. Archer’s pencils are delicate and exaggerated, Msassyk’s backgrounds are gorgeously designed and Haynes’ breakdowns give an eccentric but necessary structure to the art. It’s clear DC is putting the effort behind the creative team(s) for this series, and they are delivering in spades. It was impossible for me to pick a single panel for this week’s Freeze Frame given the artistic quality on each panel on every page.
Hopefully, the proceeding issues are able to complete the story of Colton’s fate and what Prof. Scarlet’s plans are for as the suspense and anticipation are at their highest. It’s another night at Gotham Academy, and it is delightfully exhilarating.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent