Wednesday, June 15, 2011
You might have missed it among all those Image first issues selling out, but one of those series released last month was Gladstone's School for World Conquerors. The series is about a school solely for kids that want to grow up to become supervillains. An interesting enough pitch for a series, and thanks to writer Mark Andrew Smith, we received a review copy of the first two issues. Hit the jump to see the full review.
Gladstone's School For World Conquerors #1 & #2
Written by Mark Andrew Smith
Art by Armand Villavert
Colour by Carlos Carrasco & Andre Poulain
Like I mentioned in the introduction, Gladstone's is a school for would be super villains. We get a quick introduction in the opening issue, about the history and origin of it. It's a very quick affair that gets things moving as we move into the day to day of the school. Gladstone's is populated by a veritable army of pint-sized villains. They are terrifyingly cute or adorably evil, one or the other. We are quickly introduced to some of the main cast, such as Kid Nefarious, Martian Jones and Mummy Girl.
The idea of a school for super powered kids is not exactly a novel concept (as I can think of several examples off the top of my head), but the twist of it being super villains gives it a new flavour with plenty of humour and heart. One of the most remarkable parts of this comic is seeing some of the classes that the children attend to, from villain victory speeches, to giant-monster building, and Literature 101 (clearly the most evil of all classes) given by a teacher that looks remarkably like Deathstroke (of DC fame).
There's plenty of easter eggs for the long time fans of superhero comics, as all of the staff resemble established villains from the Marvel and DC universe. Besides the Deathstroke-like lit teacher, there's also the Floronic Man-like gardener called Greensleeves, and the suspiciously Iron Man-looking like director of the school, called Ironsides. Mark Andrew Smith is clearly writing a love letter to comics of age past, where no crazy idea was too crazy to be published, and it shows.
Make no mistakes though, even though there's plenty for old fans to love, Gladstone's is a true all-ages book, perfect for new readers. It's an incredibly enjoyable comic, and a big part of the charm from the art of Armand Villavert. The simplified style would fit perfectly in between any cartoon show like Ben 10 or Spectacular Spider-Man. It's a bright and vivid world, and the art team does a perfect job in conveying. These aren't grim and gritty villains trying to kill their nemesis in the most horrible way, these are children more interested in over-the-top posturing and the spoils that come with being a bad guy, such as riches and fame.
That being said, there's life outside of Gladstone's and it does not look nearly as cheery as it does inside. Throughout the two issues, we start learning some of the shocking truth behind the villains of this world, and what is causing them to fight each other. As a matter of fact, the fighting comes right to the schools steps in the second issue. Of course, it's not the only fighting going on, as superhero Centurion and supervillain Red Octopus duke it out on national television. However, not everything is what it seems, and there's an extra layer behind it that adds to the intrigue of the the world of Gladstone's.
The creators do a good job of expanding the universe and creating an intriguing set-up outside of the school doors. The expansive universe being created works a great deal towards creating interest from the readers, and I know that after reading two issues, I can't wait to find out what else this comic can bring to the table.
Verdict – Buy It. A refreshing take on a good concept. Gladstone's is a comic you should be on the look out for, as it's just plain good clean fun. Try out one of the issues, on sale now, and I think you won't be disappointed.