REVIEW: ‘Strange Academy,’ Issue #9

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Strange Academy #9 is published by Marvel Comics, written by Skottie Young, art by Humberto Ramos, with colors by Edgar Delgado, and letters by Clayton Cowles. With the excitement of the last issue’s field trip behind them, the students are ready for Parents’ Day, a day of tours, laughter, and group competitions. But some of the students don’t have family showing up. And rather than watch all the happy families compete and have fun, they’d rather do a bit of exploring around the academy. I mean what could go wrong?

We all hate being the odd person out. When everyone else is being “normal” and we don’t fit in. Whether it’s being the single person on Valentine’s Day or the kid with no visitor on Parents’ Day, being left out is no fun. This is doubly true when the reason for being left out is something incredibly painful. Like your father is the ruler of an inter-dimensional hellscape. Or even if it’s a much more everyday problem. Take Calvin for example…

It’s been previously mentioned that Calvin is an orphan. A product of the foster care system, he has bounced around a bit as he went from one abusive household to the next. While this basic fact about Calvin was known prior to Strange Academy #9 it is more fully explored here.

As our story opens we see a moment from Calvin’s past where he gets into an argument with some of his previous foster parents. The argument comes to a screeching halt as some magical happenings quickly silence his parents and give a glimpse into a side of Calvin readers haven’t been privy to before. This all comes to a sudden end when Calvin is violently awakened by his teacher. (I won’t spoil who, but it’s someone new. And rather timely.) They don’t seem keen on kids drifting off in her class. And how can anyone nap with the thrill of Parents’ Day!

From here, Strange Academy #9 cuts away to show the various kids meeting up with their parents and making introductions between them and their friends. There are plenty of the to-be-expected awkward interactions: introducing your parents to your friend the Frost Giant or your dad accidentally blabbing that you have a crush on a classmate. You know, the usual.

The Parents’ Day continues with some fun group competitions. And when one mom gets a bit overly competitive, not even gods are safe from her wrath.

While the families are having fun, Calvin and Doyle, being the odd men out, decide to do a bit of exploring since they have no one to show around. While they do some perusing, there are some great moments of dialogue between the two outcasts. Young does a great job of showing each of these boys at their most vulnerable.

The art in Strange Academy #9 shines brightest throughout the competition. Ramos exaggerates the more excited parents’ visuals magnificently. But even though the more comical moments steal the show, the heartfelt are certainly given just as much care.

All of Ramos’ fantastic art continues to be augmented by Delgado’s gorgeous colors. This book continues to be as vibrant and alive as all of its predecessors.

Lastly, we have Cowles’ letters. Of all the books I read that have Cowles lettering in them, and I assure you it’s quite a few, this book is his best. Cowles leans into the energy and extraordinary nature of the characters to create lettering that is both functional as well as entertaining.

When all is said and done, Strange Academy #9 delivers a great one-off story. It introduces new elements to the existing cast, delivers some fantastic laughs, and gets sentimental while blending all these elements in such a way that none detract from the others. It is a performance that would be exemplary for most books. But for this creative team, it is merely par for the course.

Strange Academy #9 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Strange Academy #9
5

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Strange Academy #9 delivers a great one-off story. It introduces new elements to the existing cast, delivers some fantastic laughs, and gets sentimental while blending all these elements in such a way that none detract from the others. It is a performance that would be exemplary for most books. But for this creative team, it is merely par for the course.