When Deadly Class first came out, writer Rick Remender and artist Wes Craig introduced the reader to two very distinct, powerful, and dare I say, positive female characters within the opening issue. Or at least as a positive female assassins can be. Granted, both ladies are deadly. But in executing their trained craft, these two ladies were hands down the best of their class. Those two characters were the Yakuza daughter and punk rocker Saya and light featured, tattooed riddled, death face made up Maria, the adopted daughter of one El Alma del Diablo, the patriarch of the most vicious cartel in Mexico. As the series moved forward, Saya and Maria continued in their ways, but neither really broke out from each other’s shadow. They were friends after all. With characterization, it became a matter of taste. Saya was the moody intense one. While Maria seemed to be the more happy go lucky spontaneous one, wearing her death face make up while out and about with not a care in the world. They were even in their characterization with maybe Saya having a slight edge because of her initial work with getting lead character Marcus into the Kings Dominion School for the Deadly Arts.
But as the series continued and our little group of friends ended up in Las Vegas, things kind of changed and young Maria hit the forefront as she was forced to kill her boyfriend Chico while saving Marcus’ life. Chico was not only Maria’s boyfriend. He was the natural son of El Alma del Diablo. So you could say this death was kind of deep and a real ground breaker in putting Maria in Top Rack material range.
As for our main protagonist Marcus Lopez, Maria was his crush early. And it was quite obvious. This would only intensify after Chico’s death. But like many young punky teens before him and after him, Marcus betrayed those feelings and cheated on Maria with Saya after a heavy night of partying. (Oh the drama!). Making matters worse, Both Saya and Maria were a part of assisting Marcus in dealing with Fuckface, a redneck former orphanage mate of Marcus’ who sought vengeance because he felt his glory was taken by Marcus for burning the orphanage down. Things get heated and at not the right time.
But I digress…What really put Maria up to Top Rack material for me was what has happened in recent issues. Remender and Craig have spent a lot of time telling Maria’s back story and how she came to be the adopted daughter of El Alma del Diablo and the girlfriend of Chico. When reading these issues, it becomes obvious that Maria wears the death face for a reason. She is not the happy go lucky “fun” girl that was portrayed earlier. She actually was a masked being, dead to the world around her with only her vengeance to keep her moving forward. Perhaps things were changing with her relationship with Marcus. But knowing her history only made Marcus’ betrayal that much worse as Maria has been literally alone for much of her life. She became a tragic character that one feels her pain and sorrow.
As with this title, during the most recent Issue #13 of the series, Maria has gone full circle and is confronted with those very demons that have haunted her for many years. She is facing down El Alma del Diablo. And it will be either she or him left standing once all is said and done.
Reading Issue #13, the answer to that showdown is brought to light. All I can say is that Maria quite simply is the best at what she does. Which in the case of Deadly Class, it is in killing folks. Maria slashes through the cartel like a hot knife through butter in bloody brutal fashion, demonstrating her hardcore killing ability. The lady has skills.
But after the carnage is complete, Maria herself recognizes the futility of her vengeance. All her life, she has trained hard with the thought of killing those involved in her pain on her mind. Once that lust is fulfilled, Maria is empty. I am real curious to see if she will dawn the death face anymore after this point. But that is for another day as more trouble lies in store for our young killing machine. Because of her deepness, monster ability, and heavy emotion, I formally submit Ms. Maria as a Top Rack candidate.