Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gladstone's School for World Conquerors, Issue 1

Click here for a followup to this post covering the first arc of the series

The new comic book series "Gladstone's School for World Conquerors" is about a school for superpowered kids, and I'm a sucker for stories like that. The X-Men, with Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, is the most well-known example. There was also the live-action Disney movie "Sky High," the comic book series PS-238 by Aaron Williams (the guy behind Nodwick), and no doubt countless others. I even wrote a superhero school novel for my first National Novel Writing Month novel. I'm also a big fan of the Teen Titans cartoon, which is not about a school, but it has the same wild energy of "Gladstone's School."

As you can guess from the title, though, "Gladstone's School for World Conquerors" is a little different from those other stories. The kids who go to Gladstone's are being taught how to manage henchmen, construct deathrays, and deliver proclamations to the cowering people of the world.

The issue begins with a quick overview of how the school got started, including why the statue of the founder in front of the school looks so startled. Then we launch into the story proper, where we are introduced to most of the main characters in turn. The character designs are solid, and they all have interesting personalities, but we don't have much of an indication yet of what everyone's powers are. Also, the names are a bit lacking in the originality department. I found this rather clever image which shows the characters and illustrates what their speech bubbles look like:

(Click for full size)

The first issue doesn't advance the plot much, but it introduces the characters above (except for Fast Kid.) As the picture above indicates, the character names are one of the weak points of the series. The writing can be just a bit stunted, too, and could have used some editing. The series is clearly influenced by manga and anime (as Teen Titans was), but there's an overly zany sequence that had me shaking my head in consternation.

The issue's main strength is in its visuals. The designs for the main characters are great, and many panels feature random students in the background, each with colorful costumes full of personality. The premise is solid, too, though there's a minor spoiler there that I would like to avoid.

I'm already looking forward to the next issue. If you were a fan of superheroes, and especially if you enjoyed the Teen Titans TV series, I would recommend checking out Glastone's School for World Conquerors.

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