Artist: Wes Craig
Release Date: January 22, 2014
It’s 1987 and Marcus isn’t having a good year. A homeless teen subsisting on garbage and soup kitchens, he defines the the margin of society. He’s freezing under overpasses, fighting off crazed alley-dwellers, and his remaining shreds of hope are withering. Then he’s recruited into the Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts, which, so far, looks to be where Xaviers’s School for Gifted Youngsters meets Kill Bill.
On the heels of Black Science, Rick Remender has given us a coming of age story conspicuously lacking in space beasts and rocket ships, yet rich in danger and youthful angst. In his nihilistic ruminations on life in the gutter, Marcus points an accusing finger at us all and Remender is quick to play on our discomfort. And whatever horrors he’s cooked up for this character, Remender starts the torment off early with Marcus obsessing over his parents’ deaths, in which the pair was crushed under the force of a schizophrenic’s suicide plunge off the Golden Gate. Remender says he’ll be drawing on his own experiences as a teenage misfit in a violent time, as well as those of his co-creators; it’ll be interesting to see how he balances some of those universally relatable issues against the backdrop of a secret murder academy.
From the rough pencils to the abrupt color switches, Deadly Class certainly isn’t light on style. Whether the grit of street life or the kinetic fury of a high-speed chase, Wesley Craig’s inky style and playful panel designs convey aggression and menace with verve. Then there are the colors. Colorist Lee Loughridge shines in this issue, lending the book a mod panache by constantly shifting hues. Some panels are cast in a chilly blue, while others are a sun-kissed gold. Simply put, it just looks so damn cool.
In all, this was a great first issue that achieved a few important things: It hints at character depth and sets us up for plenty of revelations and, this being a school for assassins, action. Deadly Class is a departure from Remender’s typical fare, and it could be a lot of fun to watch him plumb these new waters. It should also be an awesome ride as Marcus navigates the typical cliquish nonsense of high school, most likely with a sword.