Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors

Written by Mark Andrew Smith with Art by Armand Villavert, and Published by Image Comics

Written by Shaun Daniels and Edited by Sharon Wong

Image Comics has a flurry (or is it more of a storm?) of #1 issues coming out this month with at least ten plus comics being released and there are a few standouts amongst the herd.  Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors is a good offering from Image, and the creative team of Mark Andrew Smith and Armand Villavert.  It will not just make you crack a smile but laugh from your gut with it’s clever take on heroes and supervillians.

To start, the school is named after Gladstone, a failure of a supervillain who time and time again is thwarted by the heroes at every turn, and ends up a mere footnote in the evil world of supervillains.  Faced with anonymity, he decides to learn from the best of the villains by opening a school…after all, those who can’t do, teach.  Gladstone’s big break comes when he is invited to the home of one of the greatest supervillains, Ironsides.  At Ironsides’s, Gladstone discovers a secret evil villain playbook that will move him to the top of the game.  With the use of the playbook, he opens Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors but not before Ironsides exacts revenge for the theft by imprisoning Gladstone in the form of a statue.  This is where the book takes a turn for the fun; the very villain who tracked down Gladstone decides to keep the school going by running it himself.  The smiles turn to laughs with the introduction of the students of the school and their lives.  These superpowered kids face the same trials and tribulations as real world kids do whether it be love, bullies or the fact that kids come from the dysfunctional family down the street.  Gladstone’s captures student life very well.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the writing, the book will have you chuckling to laughing out loud, a very difficult thing to accomplish in comics.  What is tough is the narration through the first chapter of the book as it comes off as a plain, old info dump.  The writing shines where the students are involved as Smith captures the very elements of childhood so well that the characters act like real-life kids would given the circumstances of the book.  A really nice touch to the book is the ending explaining how superhero fights take place.

The cartoonish art lends itself to both the feel and humor of the book.  The characters seem to be analogous caricatures of well-known mainstream supervillains but still have that feeling of being fresh.  Villavert has an amazing knack for capturing emotion in the faces of his characters.

Overall, this book is a fun, quick read that has a lot of potential which will hopefully pay off in the issues to come.