Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Followup: You can safely avoid Gladstone's School for World Conquerors

Note: It's been a while since I finished Gladstone's School for World Conquerors, so this review is going to be more about my impressions of the series and the way I remember things playing out.
El Campeon is wondering why he's in this comic
How long should you wait before having a completely unnecessary crossover with a character from another comic series? I don't know, but you should probably wait until after the second issue. Give your own characters a chance to find their feet and grow on your readers before you throw in someone else's character for that "Hey kids, look who's here!" moment. But Gladstone's School for World Conquerors has a completely unnecessary appearance from El Campeon, from The Amazing Joy Buzzards. El Campeon adds nothing to the plot, and ends up taking up time that could have been better spent establishing the characters from Gladstone's School for World Conquerors. In fact, El Campeon's cameo gets almost as much character development as any of the main characters in the series.

Let me back up for a moment. A few months ago, I posted a review of the first issue of Gladstone's School for World Conquerors. At the time, I was quite optimistic. The first issue showed a lot of promise: a school for superpowered kids who are taught how to be supervillains. I liked the character designs, and I really liked the Teen Titans cartoon vibe. I noted in my review that the writing was not very strong, and in the end, I feel like it was the writing that really destroyed the series.

The series ends up feeling like a study in how to ruin the pacing of a comic book. Characters spend large amounts of time screwing around, and then the plot gets wrenched forward with no warning. Characters who are established as being loners are hanging out with the main characters in the next issue, as though they've been buddies all along. One character has a secret crush on another character, which is always an easy way to add some tension and humor into the story. Nope! In the first scene where the two have time for interaction, she reveals her crush, he likes her too, and they're a couple in the next scene.

I got the feeling that the writer had some good ideas, but kept jumping on to new ideas before giving any of his previous ideas a chance to play out. Conversations between characters are there to drag the plot forward or give the creators a chance to get on their soapbox about comics being a legitimate artform (some comics maybe... this comic, not so much). The dialog feels forced, and the kids rarely sound like real kids (or even real people).

It's a shame, because the art is consistently fun and the premise is a great one. I really hope that the artist can find a better writer, or that someone can give the writer some helpful tips (here's one: take your time and let things develop naturally!)

I finished the first arc, and the ending is so unexpected and yet cliche that I was left with little desire to continue.

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