Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gladstone's School for World Conquerors

Gladstone's School for World Conquerors has just released its third issue, and, so far, it's a fun comic. The art is kinetic and exciting, and the characters are great. The plot is a bit muddled, but it's worth a read.

The concept is something I've seen in a couple of good series (Catharine Jinks' Evil Genius series and Mark Walden's H.I.V.E. series both come to mind): evil, villainous folks have a school for raising bright young villains. Here, the twist (other than that it is a comic) is that this is a school for supervillains--capes, aliens, super-powers all abound.

The art is great fun. For me, it hearkens back to the ink-rich, looser linework of an early John Byrne. Attractive, inventive character designs and active layouts are a good deal of the appeal here. My favorite character so far is Mummy Girl, a young lass who, it seems, would quickly give up world conquering just for a date with the cute teen supervillain she moons over. The background art is a bit spare at times, depending a little too much on the color to make up for linework detail. Overall though, Gladstone's is a visually fresh and inventive series.

Story, on the other hand, is a, story. It's a bit all over the place. It's hard to tell what the main plot is versus the swirl of various subplots, or other plots, as the case may be. Are we supposed to focus on the various kids in the school, their crushes, their grudges, and their struggles to get good grades in villainy to live up to their parents high expectations? On the awkward, "crypt-keeper" backstory introduction? [SPOILER ALERT] On the mysterious superhero-villain truce the kids' parents are wrestling with?

I want to focus on the kids, but all too much time is taken up with everything else. I'm hoping it all smoothes out once the trade comes out in January. If nothing else, this is a series well worth giving a chance to see if the creators can pull all the loose ends together by the series final issue.

You can find Gladstone's School for World Conquerors at your local comics shop, and publisher information is here.

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