Written by Rick Remender
Art by Wes Craig & Lee Loughridge
Published by Image Comics
Release Date: February 26, 2014

DeadlyClass02-coverCreators Rick Remender and Wesley Craig brought forth a compelling and highly-stylized debut issue last month for Image Comics last month in the form of their new series called Deadly Class.  Deadly Class #1 centered on the main protagonist, Marcus Lopez, as he is hand-picked from the subjugated lower-class of of 1987 America and thrown into a world filled of betrayal, hard lessons, classism, and social politics.  No, we’re not talking about the antics of congress or the senate on Capitol Hill –we’re talking about high school.  The quintessential micro-chasm of life skewed with self-discovery, learning, and hormones.  If that wasn’t enough, this high school is the Kings Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts —a school for teenage assassins!

While the last issue gave us insight to young Marcus’s tormented life on the streets, this issue throws us into the fray as Marcus begins his first day at school. Writer Rick Remender gives us his assassin style version of Pretty In Pink and The Breakfast Club, as young Marcus quickly assesses and evaluates the cliques and genres of teenagers in the school.  As you might’ve thought, this young teen doesn’t think too fondly of his classmates.  Much to his chagrin, his classmates don’t think to fondly of Marcus either because he lacks any sort of legacy or entitlement that most of these privileged students have to attend the school.  Remender plays with typical high school tropes of describe the various groups within the school and shows us Marcus’ desire to be “anti” as he quells any association with them.  Remender even plays with self-awareness and irony by making fun of the popular teen movie writer/director John Hughes in this issue, which was an effective reminder of the time period that this book exists in.

Remender offers a very stereotypical version of high school archetypes. This is our introduction into the school and it’s not different than what we expect; there are your generic bullies, rebels, preppies, racists, outcasts, and nerds at the school meandering through their day-to-day. Remender shows that school is still school, even if the curriculum is Assassin Psychology, Beheading, Poison, or Hand-to-Hand Combat.  What Remender does well with Deadly Class is provide an authentic voice through a high school, teen, drama that we might already be all too familiar with.  The writer nonchalantly places gems throughout the issue with balloons and captions that command your attention: “To ensure those at the lowest levels of society also have power”, “You can change the world with a bullet”, and “Only difference is in this place the dagger they put in your back is real.”  The poeticism in Remender’s words are deliberate and eviscerate a message that is sure to define the underlying theme of Deadly Class.

Wes Craig’s art perspective and style is what saves this issue from treading into “just another high school story” and into something much more.  Panels are conscientiously thought out and plotted out with precision and never diminish to inconsistency.  Craig isn’t afraid to present four to nine panel pages, and frankly, it only enriches Deadly Class by offering the reader more to absorb and shows his mastery of visual storytelling. In fact, Wes Craig is even able to creatively render the typical lunchroom-outcast-nobody-sit-with-me walk that we’ve seen in many movies, and do it effectively for the comic book format. Colorist Lee Loughridge offers a dimmer and abysmal color pallette for this issue, but it succeeds in creating a darker mood and is very complimentary for the subject matter of this series.

If this issue feels heavy, that’s because it is another 29 page follow-up to the 29 page debut, almost three issues for the price of two.  While some may still be impatient with this series because we’re still in the midsts of introducing our characters and setting up the world of Deadly Class, Remender and Craig almost guarantee something palpably exciting for the next issue and this creative team still has me curious for more.

The Verdict: 8.0/10


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