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‘Gotham High’ (review)

Written by Melissa de la Cruz
Art by Thomas Pitilli
Published by DC Ink

 

High school isn’t what it used to be.

Especially in Gotham City…which, by the way, also isn’t what it used to be.

In Gotham High, writer Melissa de la Cruz and artist Thomas Pitilli take us deep into unfamiliar territory while keeping us anchored with familiar names, places, and tropes, all twisted sideways and geared for the biggest possible surprises.

In fact, it’s hard to review Gotham High without giving away all those surprises and yet the surprises are half the fun of this alternate-Earth story. You see, like TV’s Gotham, this is NOT a Batman story. Batman doesn’t appear in any way, shape, or form.

No, this is the story of teenage Asian-American one percenter Bruce Wayne and his new romance with Selina Kyle, the proverbial girl next door. Returning to his childhood home for the first time in years, Bruce becomes frenemies with Selina’s sometime hook-up buddy, Jack Napier. An attempt at kidnapping Bruce goes awry but then Selina is kidnapped and Bruce thinks he knows who’s behind it!

There! Didn’t reveal too many of the unexpected turns of this charming graphic novel.

While the art is quite good, it’s the writing that won me over here. What could have been seen as just arbitrary changes to established characters is treated in such an intriguing way that you just keep wanting to find out what she’s done next as far as revisions. All of the characters are given significant and well laid-out backstories and sometimes one almost loses track of who the POV protagonist is meant to be…and it isn’t who you might think. By the ending, all becomes clear and a couple more unexpected twists are even thrown in.

The story hits on so many relatable things to today’s teens from a relative with Alzheimer’s, cyberbullying, alcoholic parents, etc. It’s such a far cry from the ‘60s where writers like Bob Haney were trying desperately and failing to be “hip” in Teen Titans and other DC titles. This time, they got it right!

If you’re a stickler for continuity like I used to be, I ask you to give Gotham High a try. I didn’t think I’d much care for it, but it turned out to be an exciting and genuinely surprising tale of some people I used to know in another life.

Booksteve Recommends.

 

 

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