Deadly Class #1 Review

By: Rob Neil Gruszecki

Alone, on the streets of San Francisco, amidst an era of new wave, Ronald Reagan and ColecoVision, Marcus Lopez shakes a weathered styrofoam cup at passersby who offer up elitism, condescension and the classifieds. The void of sympathy is not uncommon to Marcus, a recently escaped occupant of a Boys’ home, and hope is a concept that wears wafer thin. Self-loathing, discontent, misery and forfeit are all traits that build and fester in this time but the faintest glimmer of kindness, help or happiness will always be worth stepping back from the ledge for. Taking the words of his late father and pressing forward, Marcus soon finds himself in the dangerous and deadly hands of a collection of assassins that wish to harvest his talents and put them to the test.

This is a story of rebellion, loss, independence, self-worth, violence, punk and a class of the planet’s refuse banning together to achieve something great in a reality that has disposed of them.

Image Comics brings together the creative team of Rick Remender (Black Science, Fear Agent) and Wes Craig (Blackhand Comics) to tell a story of the 80’s underground generation and their struggle to define themselves through revolution and education of a furious counter-culture. Characters are vivid, crass and vastly developed in these mere 29 pages with action, introversion and jagged depictions of their grey worlds. Lives crushed after witnessing a suicide at the hands of a society that has forsaken its disadvantaged. Lives sequestered to the line in a soup kitchen or reduced to stealing footwear from your fellow fallen. Deadly Class holds a mirror up to our dreary civilization and its often ignored population as it organizes and prepares to lash out.

Rick Remender has been championing titles such as Captain America and Uncanny Avengers over at Marvel recently but in addition to writing some of the most famous characters in comics he has been experimenting over at Image comics with some truly impressive titles. Exploring alternate dimensions with Black Science and now a very personal and heartbreaking story with Deadly Class, a wide spectrum of his eclectic talent can be devoured each month. The voice and tone within Deadly Class is clearly Remender but from a very different, dark and sincere perspective that is great to be able to follow. With the write-up in the issue’s back matter, Remender talks about his past and brutal routes in Pheonix where violence and disparity was the norm and music and comics were a refuge. The extra touch really makes the issue feel deeply honest and intimate.

Wes Craig’s pencil work in Deadly Class is absolutely gorgeous. His layouts range from subtle to frightening and desolate to fast-paced action and he pulls off every beat with finesse. His characters are all angry and troubled and feel real and relatable. The empathy evoked from this issue’s characters and their fragility is a testament to his unique line work. His work is reminiscent of Emma Rios’ Pretty Deadly with a way of letting his characters flow in and out of panels making for an incredibly fluid and truly beautiful comic.

Deadly Class is a remarkably personal journey on behalf of all of its creators and another on a list of ‘must reads’ from Image Comics.

Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior

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