DEADLY CLASS #8
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Wes Craig, Lee Loughridge
Published by Image Comics
Release Date: October 15, 2014
Any post-adolescent can tell you that being a teenager is tough. Growing up isn’t easy and your personal history, whether you like it or not, has a dramatic effect on the person you become. Most of us have been at points in our lives where we’ve been at the bottom of the barrel. Others have been to the bottom of the barrel and have fallen further. Some of us have even been through far worse than anyone could even imagine. Deadly Class #8 is an introspection on this social discourse. How much of what you did and what you’ve done influences who you are? How much of your past are you willing to admit and come to terms with?
How much of your past can you outrun before it catches up to you?
In this issue, we open with our lead character Marcus Lopez on the rooftops caught within a psychological impass. He is currently struggling with his love and allegiance to two women –Saya and Maria –and he’s also faced with a putrid, psychotic maniac from the past by the name of Chester Wilson. Before they venture off to rescue his Maria’s ex-boyfriend Chico from his captor Chester, Saya pleads to understand the Marcus’s motivations. Unable to explain, Marcus offers his deeply personal journal to Saya as explanation and we are provided with a flashback story of Marcus and his days in the orphanage.
Flashbacks are typically devisive ways to create an understanding of motivations and purpose for the characters in the present. Often they’re trivial and so overtly contrived that they counter what they initially sought out to do. That is not the case in this issue. We are provided a heartwrenching tale of Marcus and what can ostensibly be labelled as the “orphanage from Hell” –where these children are forced to work incredibly long hours in a sweatshop under some of the poorest conditions that you could see imaginable. But rather than roll your eyes at a seemingly terse attempt to garner your sympathy, this issue triumphantly demands your attention and respect. Loughridge immediately captures our eyes with yellow color filter for the scene. Symbolically, it exercises caution and fear, while the reader definitively experiences that as we read further. Remender’s word play goes from carefully sparse narration as Marcus plots an escape and juxtaposes it with quick, perverse vulgarity that is unignorable. Craig offers fresh panel perspectives coupled with subtle details of oppressive fears with portraits of religious idols and presidents as the pace around the sewing tables audibly tapping bats to the palms of their hands.
From there the colors go to red as Marcus is brought into an interrogation to Mistress Rank’s office. Once again, the reader has no choice but to pay attention to not only the color change, but Craig’s splash page close-up of Mistress Rank and the terrifying symbolism within the scene. Here the red can be symbolic of imminent danger and restraint. Marcus is stripped and interrogated before Mistress Rank and must use every ounce of his strength and determination to avoid his intent, in spite of getting threatened, ridiculed, and beaten by her hands.
The final flashbacks have the inevitable hue of green by Loughridge almost to symbolically invoke that’s it’s go time. In this scene, Marcus finally executes his plans to fruition. Violence and hatred boil to the top in these panels as Craig captures Marcus’s inevitable madness as he is no longer able to show any of his captors any mercy whatsoever. These panels again refused to be ignored and you cannot help but visually be at the whim of what Wes Craig was able to render, that by the end of it, you are left shaken and off kilter. Not only that, but an emotional connection is forged with Saya and Marcus in the current time that we are desperate to see these invoked sentiments will play out in the next issue.
The team behind Deadly Class have managed to definitively capture these emotional fluencies in comic book form to the utmost pinnacle of their craft in this issue. With a premise of teenage assassins from the 80’s, writer Rick Remender has manifested a beautifully evocative script filled with cogitative narrations, viscerally poignant dialogue, and cogitative direction. Artist Wes Craig fabricates a symposium of desperate violence, insidious introspection, with galvanized emotion. And colorist Lee Loughridge has enraptured the pages with a complicated subtlety that inarguably evokes the readers sensibilities. Frankly, there is no surprise that this creative team has inevitably managed to produce some of the best comics out on the stands right now.
The Verdict: 10/10