Gotham High – mixed review

In Gotham High readers get a new look at a familiar world with this YA graphic novel from DC. Bruce Wayne is kicked out of his elite boarding school and returns home to Gotham City and thus Gotham Highschool. However, a kidnapping happens at the school and Bruce is determined to catch the culprit. The author took some liberties with familiar characters, which I think added some interesting flavor to the classic. For example, Bruce is half Asian and the details of his parents murder changed slightly. Alfred is not his butler, but an uncle instead that raises Bruce. Uncle Alfred also has a same sex partner which adds a friendly LGBTQ note, but this was thrown into the plot pretty randomly and late in the story causing it to feel more like tokenism. 

The illustrations by Thomas Pitilli were incredibly vibrant, and the colors popped from the pages in a brilliant dark/neon contrast. Seriously, gorgeous! However, the plot and dialog fell short in my opinion. The story line was choppy at times and could’ve used a handful of more panels to better transition the scenes and build the plot to feel more like a graphic novel. Several relationships also weren’t flushed out enough to take root and the ending was anticlimactic. 

 Being YA, the reader will see more of the darker side of Gotham. Parties, gambling, smoking, a couple provocative gestures, and some high-end flirting. It was mild and surface level, so I won’t mind my 9 and 11-year-old boys reading this. I will add their personal reviews at the end of mine! 

Based on the title, I expected the plot to unfold within the setting of the high school itself. However, we spend more time with the characters at parties and on the go. Only a few scenes actually take place at Gotham High and very little is related to the high school experience itself. The social cliques could have been done a little better, with more interactions at the school to really give the high school effect I think this series was aiming for. 

One aspect that didn’t sit quite well with me was the way the female lead in this story uses her body and flirtatious nature to influence the guys within the book. I think DC entertainment is a male dominated franchise and should take more pains to represent feministic friendly plot lines within their works. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved several stories where women are comfortable with their sexuality and maybe use it to their advantage, but the manner in which this character arc was done was not that. It irked me to be honest. And for that reason, I don’t see myself recommending this book to friends. 5 Star Illustrations, 2 Star Plot. Keep reading below if you’d like to see what my kiddos thought about this graphic novel. Thank you, DC for providing me with a free copy of this book for review!

Reviewed by Coco

T – 5th grader review: I loved it, 5 star! The crime and the kidnapping was so exciting. One of my favorite parts was when Harvey was kidnapped by accident because they were targeting Bruce. I did predict the villain because there were a lot of clues sprinkled in the book. So I wasn’t surprised, but when they jumped off the building at the end and it was like “boom” – that was great! I thought that Ivy was cool, but Selina was probably my favorite character. I love crime and mystery books with action so I thought this book was epic. 

D – 4th grader review: This book had a lot of action. I’d give it 5 stars. I predicted the villain sort of. I thought the villain was going to be the principals daughter, but wasn’t too surprised when I saw who the true villain was. I liked Jack the most, even though he was kind of used by the girls. I thought there’d be more in the high school, but it was still cool. I like funny books, so I was a little bummed this didn’t make me laugh any. I will read more in the series.

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