REVIEW: Deadly Class #8

Deadly Class #8
Art: Wes Craig
Story: Rick Remender
Letters: Rus Wooton
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: October 15, 2014

Deadly Class #8 is the latest issue of Rick Remender’s creator-owned series about fictional Reagan-era Dominion High School of the Deadly Arts’ assassins-in-training. If that sounds like a familiar premise, that’s because earlier this year Image also released the 2nd volume of Five Weapons, another creator-owned project about teenage assassins, by Jimmie Robinson. A little comparison/ contrast is in order.

First, let me say this; overall, I’m a fan of Remender’s work. Low is the best sci-fi comic I’ve read in a number of years and I’m looking forward to Tokyo Ghost. As for Deadly Class, however, I’ve taken a pass on this series. Why? Well, largely because I’m not an angst-ridden teenager looking for a world to relate to and or get even with because of perceived (or actual) slights. More importantly, I’ve heard this song before. And contrary to the overwhelming opinion of most critics, I like Jimmie Robinson’s take on the killer teen academic micro-culture a little more.

There are some major similarities between the two books, but there are some glaring differences as well. Robinson’s series has been largely light-hearted and fun thus far. Well, when you’re talking about Rick Remender, you usually don’t use the words “light-hearted” or “fun” to describe his style. Reading this issue won’t change anyone’s mind about that proclivity; insinuations of institutional sexual assault ( i.e., Marcus’ flashback to a cellmate exchange with Chester the Fuckface) will definitely add years to your life and leave you with a permanent five o’clock shadow.

Both Robinson’s Five Weapons and Remender’s Deadly Class have Latino protagonists that manage to get accepted into prestigious schools that under normal circumstances they’d never get within smelling distance of. Both Marcus and Enrique have secrets that they struggle to keep from their equally secretive and probably more violent classmates. It’s in how these two creators approach their main character’s personalities that makes the most significant difference; Enrique is Sherlock Holmes-y in a Robert Downey Jr. sort of way, where as Marcus is more Brian Mills-y (Taken) in a  Liam Neeson sort of way. Bad analogy maybe, but you get the idea.

The art in this book is great, even if the story is a little too self-indulgent for me. Craig’s controlled-mess style really captures the essence of the late 80’s punk rock, proto-grunge era that Deadly Class seeks to emulate. Loughridge’s restricted color usage really makes for absolutely mesmerizing panels.

Overall, Deadly Class is not a bad read. The premise is great, the character’s are complex and the art is punk at it’s best. My only real gripe is the overall sullen nature of the book. In a world where a secondary school with “Deadly Arts” in it’s name is a real thing, it’s kind of hard for me to take it’s student body as seriously as they take themselves.

By: Adam Cadmon

2-5stars

2 ½/5 Stars

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