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. Here’s a blurb about the issue from Image Comics before we begin: It's Marcus's first day at the Kings Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts. A locker full of death threats, a schedule full of brutality, and whispers in the hallway about his mysterious past...which is fast catching up to cut out his freshly broken heart.
This is the most dialogue-heavy Rick Remender script I’ve seen in a long time, and it is all the better for it. After last month’s whizzbang action sequences and fragmented time jumps strung together with narrative captions, I loved watching these characters finally start to interact in a meaningful way.
The introduction of classes in fragments feels like some weird combination of a Wes Anderson montage and the first few chapters of Harry Potter, with a soundtrack by Richard Hell and the Voidoids, with a dash of a John Hughes movie. You’ve got your poisoning class taught in a dungeon, then martial arts, and after that the dweeby kid will get beat up in the shower. It’s exactly like high school. Remender’s making this a really enjoyable statement on how fucking miserable high school is for everyone.
Wes Craig is killing it (yuk yuk) as well with this series. I love the sort of Donnie Darko sensibility to the student uniforms. The gangs have all taken the basic outfits and turned them into their outfits, which is impressive in terms of design. Lee Loughridge’s colors can’t help but make me think of David Aja’s work in Hawkeye which is literally the highest praise I can dish out right now. I can’t wait to see next month’s issue.
I had such high hopes for this comic. I am genuinely disappointed in the ways things turned out. That is how comics work though. Deadly Class just got weird. Plain weird. But before it got weird, it got real typical.
Marcus joins this school where he will soon train to be a deadly assassin. The school is typical; it has clicks and guess what, Marcus doesn’t fit in anywhere. Everyone is gossiping about this boy which leads to a rejection from all the other groups. He doesn’t care though, because he is too cool for that. Sounds like “Mean Girls 3” to me. Anyway, I feel like I have read this story a thousand times. It just always a different place, but same story. .
Then the ending of this comic is so sick it didn’t matter what I thought about it before, my mind was made up. Maybe some people can get past that sort of thing, but now every time I see this comic I think of bestiality first thing.
Deadly Class is the latest in a series of several books that I’ve pulled complete 180s on recently. I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue as an entertaining way to wash the bitter taste out of my mouth from last year’s pitiful Five Weapons, which shares a similar premise, but now I’m not so sure this is much better.
Cracks in this story are already beginning to show; for example, this school is populated by the kids of wealthy crime syndicate heads/gang leaders, right? And yet, its principal waxes philosophical about giving a voice to the downtrodden? That seems at best disingenuous and at worst, poorly-conceived. Meanwhile, we get annoyingly hollow introductions to the clichéd characters who populate the school, including a rundown of its different gangs, which is all WAY too similar to Five Weapons. Oh yeah, and there’s a scene where an Arab teaches “beheading.” Fucking seriously!?
There are exactly two interesting things about this issue, which haven’t been - if you’ll pardon the pun - “done to death” elsewhere: the identity of Marcus’ target and the story in the last five pages, which introduces a very fucked-up and pretty terrifying person who is on the hunt for Marcus. Otherwise, I found this issue to be trite, boring and relying far too heavily on dangerous cultural stereotypes.
Finally, and as opposed to last issue, which showed a great bit of dynamic experimentation in terms of art and page layouts, the look of this book was so banal it hurt. Altogether, this was not a good showing. I’ll check out one more issue, but if it doesn’t shape up fast, I’m dropping this thing faster than third-period beheadings.
This would be a “pass” for several reasons, but ultimately I think that if you enjoyed the first issue you should read this second issue so that you can see for yourself why it’s not nearly as good. There are several standout things that annoyed me in this issue and I’m going to list them all. Usually we try to keep these group reviews shorter so that you’re not bored, but fuck it… this is likely to be the last group review for this series so let’s do it.
The comic opens to a kid masturbating to a dog show… and this becomes a theme in the issue. While I no longer blame Marcus for blowing up his boys home I really wasn’t on board with what drove him there. If this was one of the life stories plucked from Remender’s personal life then I feel for him… but I don’t know if this was the right place to get that off his chest.
The school instantly dissolves into Five Weapons and it pretty much proves that you can’t do a school for assassins without it being really fucking stupid. Marcus is branded as some killer bad-ass and everyone is either afraid of him or wants to prove he’s full of it. We’re still not given the details of what exactly happened at the boys home with the exception of…
…The masturbating to animals kid is back scarred up and raping a cow. Yeah. I couldn’t pretend to care, but once again it managed to disgust me. I get that maybe I was just supposed to be uncomfortable, but that was blown out of the water when you went back to the bestiality well.
The other really annoying thing was that Marcus breaks down the school like any high school and if you read the back of issue one it’s exactly the way that Remender broke down his life. It’s not word for word, but it wasn’t very moving or powerful and felt overly dramatic for something we all knew would be kids smoking outside. The audience that you’re selling this to relates… stop trying so hard.
Probably the biggest whatever is the reveal of who Marcus’ target is. He wants to kill one person who he blames for the way his life turned out and you can probably call it if you paid attention to the first issue. I found it to be hokey.
I knew there could be trouble when they brought Marcus to an underground school for assassins that was actually underground. Why it couldn’t have been a small group of kid assassins is beyond me since it would have been far more interesting, but instead we got a weak ass Breakfast Club for assassins and even a mention of John Hughes to boot.
The last thing I found to be out-of-place in this story was the fact that on their “kill a bum” homework assignment they’re supposed to take pictures. Let me remind you that this is taking place in the 80s and they’re not supplied cameras at least from what we can see. Sure cameras were readily available in the 80s but I doubt a gang bangers son and a homeless kid from Nicaragua have one.
The sad part is I still mostly liked the dialogue and I really liked the art. Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge are fantastic together, but I doubt I’ll be checking them out any further with this series.
Score: 2 Passes, 1 Borrow and a Buy
Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Wes Craig Colorist: Lee Loughridge Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 2/26/14