Gotham High, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Gotham High, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Teen Batman heroes, villains clash in taut high school tale.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Graphic novel meant to entertain, but Gotham High does present an opportunity to discuss economic inequalities in the United States.

Positive Messages

People who are seen as the underdog sometimes succeed beyond anyone's expectations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bruce Wayne sticks up for the underdog, wishes he had more real friends, and uses his vast wealth to help people. Jack Napier struggles to survive and takes shortcuts with the law. Selina Kyle is devoted to her ailing father, and she's willing to commit crimes to see he gets the treatment he needs.


Violent scenes feature beatings, a kidnapping, gunfights, and fistfights. No graphic bloodshed.


Selina flirts with Bruce and Jack and shares passionate embraces with each.


Occasional strong language, with one or two instances each of "s--t," "f--k," "a--hole, "a--wipe," "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage gambling, drinking, smoking, vaping and drug-taking depicted.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gotham High is a graphic novel focused on the early years of various superheroes and villains, including Batman, the Joker, and Catwoman. Here, the characters identify with ethnicities different from those in the traditional comics: Bruce is Chinese, Selina Latinx, Poison Ivy Korean, Alfred African American. Written by Melissa de la Cruz and illustrated by Thomas Pitilli, the book mixes high school social drama with a light touch of superheroics. Occasional strong language, with one or two instances each of “s--t,” “f--k,” “a--hole,” “a--wipe.” Violent scenes feature beatings, a kidnapping, gunfights, and fistfights. There's underage gambling, drinking, smoking, vaping and drug-taking. Both Bruce and Jack have passionate embraces with Selina.

What's the story?

As GOTHAM HIGH opens, 16-year-old Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City after being expelled from a prestigious prep school. Haunted by the deaths of his parents, Bruce struggles with loneliness. He's interested in Selina Kyle, the next-door neighbor who rules the campus through her iron will and sexy style. After a Gotham High student is kidnapped, Bruce follows a trail of clues that center on working-class bad boy Jack Napier. But when the final cards are played, who's scamming who?


Is it any good?

There's more diversity in superhero comics these days, and this clever multicultural approach to some familiar heroes and villains casts the genre in an exciting new light. In Gotham High, author Melissa de la Cruz and illustrator Thomas Pitilli keep the suspense high and the action colorful, with plenty of fun scenes between Bruce, Selina, and Jack. All three major characters get their due, and there are numerous cameo appearances by other favorites from the Batman world. The mystery plot is a little vague, but there's an interesting twist.


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Gotham High depicts high school bullying. Does it seem realistic? What can you do to prevent it? Which strategy works best?

  • Do you like reading stories that imagine familiar adult characters as teens? Why are origin stories so popular? What's fun about them? 

  • What do you think of the author's choice to assign different ethnicities to the familiar Batman characters? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love superheroes and graphic novels

Themes & Topics

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