Group Review: Deadly Class #1

Each of the participating writers/reviews of Comic Bastards will give the issue a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass along with a short reason for the score. In kind of a change of pace here’s what the series is about because Image’s description of the first issue doesn’t actually describe the issue… like at all. Welcome to the most brutal high school on Earth, where the world’s top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained. Murder is an art. Killing is a craft. At King’s Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts, the dagger in your back isn’t always metaphorical, nor is your fellow classmates' poison.

Steve: BUY

Rick Remender’s Deadly Class is one of the most condensed comics I’ve read in a long time, feeling much more voluminous than its 36 pages imply. What I’m trying to say is there’s a shit-load going on in this adventure, which sees an unfortunately-orphaned homeless teen named Marcus as he is suddenly saved by and welcomed into what appears to be a (literal) underground school for wayward assassins.

It’s a premise that will sound familiar to anyone misguided enough to have sat through the film adaptation of Wanted or read last year’s arguably more regrettable story, Five Weapons. The difference is, Deadly Class is actually good, if not completely fresh. Unlike the aforementioned, this is a book weighted well with pathos and gravity. Remender achieves this by being especially introspective (even for him); the disturbing story he tells about his main character’s sickeningly traumatic past and affected present stains the book well. The last act does get a bit “Hollywoody,” which is a bit of a shame after such a strong introduction, but given the team attached, I’m hopeful this won’t devolve further into cliché.

Visually, this book jumps all over the place in style, but not in quality. Artist Wes Craig adopts an Aja-meets-Rossmo type feel, with a visual structure that seems to take its cues from Hawkeye or Francavilla books. The same is true of Lee Loughridge’s colors. Like the story, the entire artistic experience fills this book to its brim, but at the same time doesn’t feel overstuffed. Even though it felt awfully familiar, I’m giving this a solid buy thanks to strong dialogue, eclectic art that scratches the prevailing contemporary itch and a story I’m looking forward to seeing unfold further.

Adam: BUY

I don’t think I’ve enjoyed the first issue of a comic this much since the debut of Revival.  Everything about this comic makes me anxious to see what happens next.  The overwhelming sense of dread and where the main character draws his lines in relation to morality and faith were very interesting to me.  The art is incredible too.  I think the best thing about the book is that it feels real-the time period, what happens, everything is very organic.  And if you read the book through to the end, you’ll find out that this book is and will be based off of real events witnessed by Rick Remender.


Samantha: BUY

Deadly Class was a purely entertaining comic from start to finish. I thought we would jump on board while class was in session. Instead, we meet up with Marcus at his lowest points. This helped build not only Marcus as a character but helped preview the city in which Marcus will train. In fact, I loved seeing the sights of the city. Wes Craig brought some amazing sequences into the events. The colors from Lee Loughridge, brought out every time of day. It was brilliant watching each moment unfold into these backdrops. My favorite was definitely the chase though. The characters stretching over multiple panels with backflips is exactly why I love action comics. Every pattern just flowed together.

Marcus’ character isn’t all that relatable. I have never found myself homeless or know the struggles of being on the street. But somehow, the writer still makes him understandable. You identify with his struggles and root for him even if you don’t know what side he is on.

Obviously, Saya is going to be the fan favorite, and Marcus will no doubt fall hard for this chick. My only fear is that being locked up in a training school will take away from the city life that I loved so much in this issue. If they jump between the two, then this comic has great potential to climb high on my charts.

Dustin: BUY

I’m not a Remender guy. Some people follow writers around and can pretty much dig on everything they do. I used to be that way with a few creators, but it’s less and less these days. I take it one story at a time and with Remender I have to do that with each story. With Black Science was excited, but then ultimately disappointed by the first two issues. With Deadly Class I went in expecting one thing and came away with something else. Granted, everything changes next issues so it has the potential to just be what I thought it would, but this first issue was something else.

It’s one of the most impressive first issues I’ve read in a while. Not once was I bored or upset by the intentional lack of information. It was a romp. The bulk of the story is spent with just one character and he’s fucking awesome. He’s the coolest homeless kid you’ll ever meet and it wasn’t because he thought he was cool. It was because of how related able and human his character was. This kid basically has a “Batman origin” but he’s no crime fighter, he’s just a product of the system and it’s sad, sobering and all too human.

What really got me though was the art work. It was like looking at this incredible messing of superstar styles. I could see splashes of Paul Pope and even Remender’s other Image contributor Matteo Scalera. Wes Craig won me over in a huge way, but his art shines due to Lee Loughridge’s coloring. Holy shit this books is vibrant and yet it has this matted finish to it. I didn’t quite feel like I was in the 80s, but I sure as shit felt like I was looking into a window of our world. I’m impressed and interested to read more and that’s not something I thought would happen with this series at all.

Score: BUY

Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Wes Craig Colorist: Lee Loughridge Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 1/22/14