This week marks the release of the first issue of Mark Andrew Smith’s new comic, Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors, with artwork by Armand Villavert and colors by Carlos Carrasco.
As the title suggests, this is about a school for future supervillains, but naturally, things aren’t quite as straightforward as that…
The comic begins with a very entertaining look into the life of the founder of the school…
There are a lot of twists and turns just in that first story!!
After that introduction, we are taken to the current school population. Our introduction to one of the main characters, Kid Nefarious, is handled quite well…
Villavert and Carrasco are a formidable art team. Smith’s story is all about the reactions of the characters within the tale, so having such an expressive artist as Villavert really helps a lot. Meanwhile, Villavert and Carrasco also do a bang-up job handling the over-the-top action that this comic requires, as well (as they ARE training to be super-villains, after all). Carrasco’s vibrant colors fit the mood perfectly.
The other main protagonist (or should I say, antagonist) is Mummy Girl, who is quite a unique little character…
Smith has intentionally chosen a very specific age group here, as this is pretty much the oldest you can get where you still have kids who believe that professional wrestling is not staged at all. That is an important point, because here you have kids who firmly believe in the ideals of super-villainy. The problem is that Smith is soon going to pull the rug out from under them as they discover that (as one character makes a point of noting) things aren’t quite so black and white.
In his set-up, Smith has developed a situation where a diverse group of characters are FORCED to interact, which works well for perpetual conflict. When you add in the outer conflict of discovering that things aren’t what they exactly appear to be, and the fact that graduating from Gladstone’s doesn’t lead to the life they are expecting…well, you got yourself a whole pile of easily sustainable stories.
Smith continues his impressive string of inventive comic book works, and with the aforementioned set-up, this looks like it could support a long run of stories. Hopefully Villavert and Carrasco will be along for the long haul, as they match Smith’s approach so well.
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