Can a series still continue to excite and surprise almost 40 issues in? Deadly Class is proof it’s still possible. The future of this series has never looked brighter, but that’s not to say this issue isn’t awesome in and of itself.
Marcus and Maria are settling back into King’s Dominion, and by settling back, I mean still having to watch their backs every second. Shabnam and his cronies are ever scheming and new players are seeking to establish themselves. While #39 isn’t splattered with blood or death, this is still exhilarating stuff with Remender’s sharp script and Wes Craig’s innovative art.
On writing the X-Men, Joss Whedon said he aimed to give each character a moment to shine each issue. Remender does likewise here. Brandy makes moves on Shabnam for power, putting the tubby tyrant up against Grogda. Assassination plots are afoot. But this plan revolves around some deception, so Viktor declines and Stephen has to step up. There’s a fantastic balancing act at play with this evil gang. Successfully, they’re simultaneously goofy and intimidating–a hard thing to pull off.
Marcus is back to brooding, although it’s written far better than many of his previous rants. There’s tension between Maria, so the couple make some distance and let other morally mysterious figures in their lives. It’s honestly amazing how much story is packed into these 32 pages, and done well.
I can’t say too much, but the end of the issue literally had me fist-pumping the air. Like I said in the intro, the direction Deadly Class is aiming for is incredibly exciting. Every character, main or side character, has a clear, logical trajectory. Years of buildup have grown and twisted these characters around–now it’s time for them to start kicking gum and chewing ass. That’s how it goes, right?
There’s no such thing as a throw-away issue for Wes Craig. Well, even if there is, I sure can’t point it out, because it doesn’t matter if dialogue or action takes center stage–he draws and outlines it with rigor regardless. Dutch angles, silhouettes, and zip-a-tone are used to greatly enhance many scenes. While Craig can draw the heck out of backgrounds, his continued incorporation of dead space is worth mentioning. Obviously the technique makes more room for panels, but it helps frame characters by themselves even when they’re others. #loneliness.
Other tricks include cinematic black bars to show tension between two characters, anime style. When Shabnam shouts and smacks a desk, we get a double-vision/3D effect. Cinematic, frame-by-frame panels help milk tension. Facial expressions are expressive in an extreme, manga fashion. Locations are dripping with atmosphere, especially panels depicting downtown San Francisco. Huge credit also has to go to Jordan Boyd, who’s instrumental in stirring up mood with secondary and tertiary colors.