Full disclosure: Deadly Class is one of my favorite comics ever. Period. Full stop. I’ve been reading it since the first issue and have even appeared in the letter pages a time or two. I was seventeen when the first issue came out, and the deconstruction of youth and the angst of that time in one’s life set against the backdrop of a school for assassins in training caught me like a fly in Remender’s web. I’ve read pretty much of all Remender’s Image series and a good chunk of his Marvel work as well, but none of them drew me in and kept me as riveted as Deadly Class. It helps that the style of Wes Craig’s heavy inks and amazing page layouts channel my favorite styles and artists in comics. The last two volumes of Deadly Class have been some of the best in the series, and with a 120 day hiatus, I’ve been going out of my mind waiting for this issue’s release. I can thankfully say that it does not disappoint.
This issue is pretty much action from beginning to end, a good contrast to last arc that was more mellow than we’re used to seeing from this series. The action is so fluid, it’s mind blowing. How Craig can pull off the narrative jumping between like four different action sequences without it feeling rushed or frazzled is beyond me. While I love Craig’s pencils and inks, what really shines in this issue is his page layouts and panel progression. At calmer times, the panels are linear and tight, but when the fighting picks up, they become more disjointed and untraditional in their placement. I cannot stress enough how amazing Wes Craig is at what he does. Deadly Class wouldn’t be the comic it is today if he didn’t put everything he has into not only the pencils/inks, but also making sure the overall feel and progression of the act of reading the comic matched up with the narrative.
Now that I’m done gushing about the art, I will take my time to gush about the writing. I’ve always loved Deadly Class‘ ability to intercut the characters’ inner most philosophical ideals with fast paced action. For instance, the issue starts with Marcus abstractly musing, as he usually does, about how a certain time in your life can define the rest of it. For Marcus, this time is the year he was at King’s Domino before Saya faked his death during finals. It’s poignant to point out how one’s teenage years can be simultaneously the best and worst of your life and how you can have rose tinted glasses when looking at your youth after the fact. But during all this, he’s fighting like a million ninjas plus Viktor and Brandy, and it never feels like the inner monologue is distracting from the action. If anything it enhances it, as you contemplate what he’s thinking and get the wind knocked out of you by what he’s doing.
Sometimes in this series, the soliloquies can get verbose and pretentious (Whether that’s unintentional or Remender’s attempt to show that Marcus is a pretentious teenager, is for another time). However, this issue is tight and still thought provoking. I especially loved when Marcus, the big comic geek he is, starts narrating like he’s in a Frank Miller comic because the sound of the Yakuza’s swords going through another’s skull reminds him of Sin City. It was macabrely funny and a nice reference to the 80s setting.
This series, like a fine wine, only gets better the higher the issue number climbs. Wes Craig is a master of graphic storytelling, and Remender knows how to work to Craig’s strengths with his script. With this issue, Deadly Class continues to prove why it deserves your attention and the top spot on your pull list month to month.