Gotham High

DC Comics. Apr. 2020. 208p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781401286248.
Gr 8 Up–Before they were DC headliners, Bruce Wayne, Selina Garcia Kyle, and Jack Napier were teenagers trying to cope in the brutal world of high school. Narrated by Selina, this tale follows Bruce’s return to Gotham High after being expelled from boarding school. Bruce befriends Selina and Jack, and when fellow student Harvey Dent is kidnapped and held for ransom, Bruce investigates with the help of his uncle Alfred. All the clues lead Bruce to suspect his friends’ involvement, but nothing is ever as it seems in Gotham. Jealousy mounts as both Bruce and Jack vie for Selina’s affections. Full of intrigue and betrayal, this drama-laden graphic novel offers a new take on the motivations and origins of Batman, Catwoman, and the Joker. De la Cruz subverts classic DC lore by including well-known characters in new roles: Principal Gordon is an overworked mom whose daughter “Barbie” attends Gotham High, the infamous “Poison” Ivy is a local apothecary clerk with knowledge of questionable herbs, and Alfred is Bruce’s uncle back from business in Hong Kong. Pitilli adeptly sets an ominous tone with a gorgeous, dark palette and thoughtful character designs. Unfortunately, despite the diverse cast and expressive art, the book suffers from far too much rich kid angst and not enough depth to make the payoff at the end seem plausible.
VERDICT While some readers will enjoy this tale, others may find it shallow. Recommended for casual comics readers and fans of teen melodrama.

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