I have thoroughly enjoyed the previous two Gotham Academy collections, but I have to admit - this third volume did not exactly hit the mark. While the previous stories certainly had some fun and games within them, they were still tales of mystery, monsters, and mayhem with a touch of gothic suspense mixed in. This collection of "yearbook" tales, however, not only lacked in any mystery elements (save for the last issue in the collection), but the rotating artists were less then stellar.
Gotham Academy: Yearbook collects issues 13 through 18 of the ongoing series, in which Mia and Olive take a trip down memory lane, reminiscing about various events that have occurred at the school (but which stories have not been previously told). Perhaps to give the regular artists a break, or maybe simply to give each of these tales their own special feel, DC had a rotating cast of artists drawing each of these flashback tales, and quite frankly, most of the art was childish and not at all to my liking - which, sadly, distracted me and pulled me out of the story. I am not a big fan of these recent trend of artists to draw like 5 and 6 year old children, where the people do not look like people, but like caricatures of people. I've always preferred good, solid art where people and backgrounds resembled real people and backgrounds - Curt Swan, George Perez, Phil Jimenez, Stephen Sadowski, Jerry Ordway, and others. Even some with their own style, such as Jim Aparo and Alan Davis, still retained a realistic look to their art. But this nonsense, child-like art that seems to be growing in the comic community just turns me off completely.
That being said, some of the flashback tales themselves (referring to the story, not the art), were somewhat entertaining. The story of Ham (the dog) was adorable, and the tale of Professor Milo was interesting. "Serpents & Secrets" and "Talent Show" were both a bit touching, in that they dealt with the kids' friendships and their growing reliance and love for one another. The final issue in the collection, though, "Broken Hearts," brought the series back to its roots, with a story of a vampire, a glowing skeleton, a beating heart, and believe it or not, time travel. With this issue, we get back to the kids being what they should be - a group of young detectives exploring and investigating the inexplicable events that keep happening at the school. We also finally learn just what Olive's nightmares about the grandfather clock and the arrow mean, and watch as the kids argue, divide up, and ultimately band together to stop not one, but two potentially dangerous menaces to the school and the world itself! And Colton's attraction for Kyle becomes a bit more apparent in this issue, leaving one to wonder if that story will ever be realized.
And with this volume, the first semester of Gotham Academy ends. As with so many comics in today's market, Gotham Academy gets a re-boot and re-numbering as the second semester begins with an all-new issue number one - making me guess that the next graphic novel that will collect the first six issues of the second semester will likely go back to Volume 1 (because God-forbid any comic book series these days actually continue past issue 50 or more!).
RATING: 5 wool-wearing pranksters out of 10 for giving readers at least one really good tale out of six that is in keeping with Gotham Academy's gothic fun.