Deadly Class is Kill Bill meets Dazed and Confused meets Saved By The Bell. Did you hear that? Highly-trained, deadly teens attending an assassin high school get into wacky hi-jinks. But instead of ruining a dance off at The Max… well, you know… what assassins do. With a Remender story and Wes Craig’s beautiful art Deadly Class is one of my favorite titles of the year. Find out why after the jump.
Deadly Class is already at issue 9 (coming out Nov 19th), but we’re going to focus on the first story arc (issues #1-6) which is collected in Deadly Class Vol. 1, Reagan Youth.
San Francisco, 1987. Reagan Youth introduces Marcus Lopez who has recently flown the coop, a home for troubled youth. Marcus’ goal in life? Kill President Ronald Reagan. A revenge kill, no less. Marcus blames Reagan for the untimely demise of his parents, victims of Reagan’s mental health policies. So after a bit of trouble with a rather nasty nail bomb, Marcus becomes the focus of King’s Dominion School of the Deadly Arts.
There, he’ll join a vicious and infamous roster of other wayward and dangerous teens: Stalin’s kids, the offspring of some of the world’s deadliest criminal organizations and other intimidating enrollees. Forget your jocks and nerd stereotypes, gang, the groups at King’s Dominion look more like prison cliques than mathletes and popular kids. The Triad-esque Kabuki Syndicate hang with other members of the Kabuki Syndicate. The Mexican Cartel with the Mexican Cartel. Chemistry first period? More like “Assassin Psychology” and “Dismemberment 101.”
And naturally, there’s a love story. Marcus has his eyes set on one of the prettiest girls in the school. Let’s just say the possibility of their relationship coming to fruition makes the impossible odds of Romeo & Juliet look like a Hugh Grant rom-com.
Are you not entertained? Rick Remender, whom is currently writing another one of my favorite titles – Black Science, is putting together a story that both recalls some of our favorite high school-esque storylines. Without the added layer of “assassin high school” these storylines could potentially become cliché, but carefully avoid that trap. Instead what we are left with is teen angst that is wholly justifiable, and a fear of going to school unlike any you’ve ever experienced (unless you’ve read Morning Glories, another Image series that takes place in a fight-for-your-life high school setting).
But can we talk about the art? Wes Craig’s gorgeous art lends itself to Remender’s voice with perfection. Characters are both brooding, but vibrant – the settings rendered with simplicity. Late 80’s San Francisco and King’s Dominion are fantastical. Craig’s depiction of these assassin-wunderkind doing lines and lines of you-had-to-be-there 80’s coke is one of my favorite pieces of sequential art that I’ve seen this year. Lee Loughridge, the colorist, breathes the frenetic pulse into these pages. Imagine entire pages done expertly in different shades of blue… it sets the tone, the mood, the atmosphere. Craig and Loughridge were meant to make art together. It’s fate.
Does this get Shortboxed?
Well yeah, man. Weren’t you reading? Deadly Class, as mentioned, is one of my favorite titles of the year and I hope I can count it amongst my favorite reads of all time. I read every issue three times as soon as I pick it up from my comic book shop. The first time I read it for the comprehensive experience, the second time I read it for the story, and the third time I read it for the art. This is the only comic I read this way.
Where to get it
With Vol. 1, you’ve got the benefit of getting a jump start on the series and a cheap entry point; Image’s new series all have TBPs priced at $9.99! Pick it up on Amazon or your LCS.
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