Evil Spy School: The Graphic Novel

Evil Spy School: The Graphic Novel
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
March 05, 2024
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During a spy school game of Capture the Flag, twelve-year-old Ben Ripley accidentally shoots a live mortar into the principal’s office—and immediately gets himself expelled. Not long after going back to the boring real world, Ben gets an offer to join evil crime organization SPYDER. And he accepts.

Ben can tell he’s a key part of their sinister plan, but he’s not quite sure what the plan is. Can Ben figure out what SPYDER is up to—and get word to the good guys without getting caught—before it’s too late?

Follow Ben as he crosses over to the dark side in action-packed, full-color panels.

Editor review

1 review
What happens when you blow up your school...
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Ben Ripley is doing his best at beginning of the year exercises at spy school when he is blamed for blowing up the principal's office. It's really a plan by Erica and her family to get him to infiltrate SPYDER's spy school, and Ben suspects as much. First, though, he has a disastrous day back at his old middle school before SPYDER does approach him and whisks him away to their ultra secret and very posh training center in New Jersey. There, Ben is in a house with Nefarious, who is always playing video games, and Ashley, the 6th best gymnast in the US who has turned to a life of crime after her failure to make the Olympic gymnastics team. He learns some of SPYDER's ways, takes a bit of a liking to Ashley, and finally is contacted by Erica, who tells him that SPYDER is up to something, and it's his job to find out what. The what ends up involving a lot of bombs, counter spying, and some unpleasant reminders of Ben's past. Which side is offering Ben a better deal?

Good Points
The graphic novel adaptations of this popular spy mystery series are very dense, both visually and textually, so they are all extremely close to the storyline. Often, adaptations gloss over a lot of the emotional journeys of the characters or background information, but that is not the case here. The illustration style is well suited to the tone of the text; it's not as peppy and cartoonish as many titles, but not as serious as others, which is a good balance considering that as hard as Ben tries, he often has some humorous fails.

While 2023 brought a lot more diversity in genres of graphic novels, there is still a marked lack of spy and mystery titles. Johnston's adaptations of Horowitz's Stormbreaker series, Riordan's first 39 Clues by Ethan Young, and Blasco and Springer's Enola Holmes reboot are some similar titles. Spy novels have been popular with middle grade readers for over twenty years, which isn't surprising given the number of similar adult books. Fans of Gibbs' novels will like these as a quick refresher, and I hope that new readers will be enticed to pick up the longer versions after reading the graphic novels.
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