The comics from August’s Fifth Week are finished off with a look at two DC Comics books that aren’t branded as part of Rebirth – Gotham Academy Annual 1 and Justice League of America 9.

Justice League of America 9
Written and pencilled by Bryan Hitch
Inks by Daniel Henriques 

What a mess this book is. This is not the Justice League book that Hitch took over from Geoff Johns, the Rebirth-edition that is pitting the League against unknown alien invaders. No, this is the continuation of Hitch’s pre-Rebirth Justice League book that’s pitting the League against Kryptonian invaders. Hitch’s historical inability to pencil a book on time has struck again, as this title was cancelled and solicited again to finish a story that I’m not sure anyone cared about. They even threw in a back-up story about the Martian Manhunter – who has nothing to do with ANY of this – to give Hitch some buffer room, and it didn’t help.

And then Rebirth reset the table, accept for this book, which somehow managed to survive unnecessarily.

The League at this point is split up. Hal Jordan is on ancient Krypton; Flash is off dealing with the scientists at the corporation that kicked this whole story off forever again; Superman is dead (no, a different death than the death that killed him in his own books) and Kryptonian deity Rao is gaining power. And none of it flows well and none of it feels important the way a Justice League story should. It’s just there and “We should finish it” isn’t a good enough reason to continue publishing the story.

The fact that I made it into the ninth issue of this story is amazing to me and I think maybe it’s time to give up on it. There’s already another sub-par Justice League book written by Bryan Hitch on the market.

Gotham Academy Annual 1
Written by Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher 
Pencils by Adam Archer, Michael Dialynas and Chris Wildgoose 
Inks by Michael Dialynas, Sandra Hope and Chris Wildgoose 

As the “Second Semester” of the Gotham Academy book prepares for release this fall, readers get a return to the private school for a primer on the Detective Club and the book’s stars, who are frequently getting into wacky hi-jinx because the school is in Gotham and everyone in Gotham is apparently prone to fighting supervillains and spooky teachers.

The annual ups the ante a little bit by pitting the Detective Club against each other as they argue over the best way to investigate a new mystery – is it a vampire stalking the school or a teacher who happens to be radioactive who is making students at the school sick? Turns out, it’s both. Because of course it is.

Cloonan and Fletcher don’t just inject a high amount of fun into the book, they also stuffed the annual with winks and nods to Batman’s history (and possible future) with each issue. The annual is no different. The radioactive teacher is Blight, the Batman Beyond villain, who has come to the past to ensure that the Batman of the future never comes to be. The vampire is Gustav Decobra, who fought Batman in an issue of Detective Comics in 1976. That’s some dedicated referencing right there.

Comic books are supposed to be fun, and Gotham Academy has always been a fun book. I have high hopes for “Gotham Academy: Second Semester,” which is scheduled to kick off on Sept. 14.