From the heights of absurdity last issue to the depths of boredom here, Deadly Class continues its quality fluctuation.
A few issues back (issue #39, true believers), I was praising Rick Remender up and down for setting up such great character and plot trajectories. So it stings all the more that he keeps piling on filler instead of actually advancing what he laid down.
If, for some reason, you’re a fan of Marcus’s endlessly grim, pretentious whinging—you’ll adore this issue. Most of #41 is comprised of him high-fiving people around King’s Dominion while he inwardly stews. Sometimes you gotta put on a happy face and say you’re fine when you’re really not, brah.
Occasionally, one of Marcus’s grumpy mumblings will reveal some insight with a clever turn of phrase, but any positives are buried in an avalanche of emo gripes.
That level of un-subtlety even trickles down to the character beats. For instance, we see Marcus get cheat answers for a test. Maria asks if he wants to hang out. Marcus says he has to study for said test. She says, “Didn’t you get the cheats?” He says he couldn’t score them. As soon as she leaves, he pulls out the answers. OK, I got it when he first said no. No need to keep punctuating their divide like this.
On that note, Maria and Marcus are becoming interested in other school members. Where did this suddenly come from? I like the idea of them growing apart after going through so much, but this is an example of all-too sudden movement. It doesn’t help that these “bonding scenes” drag on with circular dialogue and repetitive beats that don’t build tension or advance the central conflicts.
What does work is Marcus and Saya’s seething, rocky reunion. For once, Saya is trying to help Marcus and be his friend. But after what happened to Billy, Marcus is still angry at her. And at this point, since he’s on top, he can afford to push his friends away. However, I doubt that’ll last long.
Usually I say Wes Craig knocks it out of the park even if a Deadly Class issue isn’t the best in the script department. But here, his art barely registers. Granted, this isn’t a terribly exciting installment (with a lot taken up by Marcus meandering and blathering), but the visual presentation is pretty standard, lacking the neck-twisting compositions, immediacy, and inventive layouts Craig usually brings even to more dialogue-centric fare. Even the varied, potentially exciting locations, like a carnival, don’t impress.