Deadly Class #1 – Friday Flash Review

Deadly Class #1

Bane of Kings and Shadowhawk take a look at the first issue of Rick Remender’s second creator-owned title for Image Comics, with artists Wes Craig, Rus Wooton and Lee Loughridge.

Rick Remender delivers a stunning first issue that is the start of something special – you’ll really want to be on board for this series because I can already tell it’s going to be one of the best of the year.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

“More confusing than anything, but still a decent first issue.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields

Bane of Kings:

Story: Rick Remender | Art: Wesley Craig | Colours: Lee Loughridge

It’s 1987. Marcus Lopez hates school. His grades suck. He has no money. The jocks are hassling his friends. He can’t focus in class, thanks to his mind constantly drifting to the stunning girl in the front row and the Dag Nasty show he has tickets to. But the jocks are the children of Joseph Stalin’s top assassin, the teachers are members of an ancient league of assassins, the class he’s failing is “Dismemberment 101,” and his crush, a member of the most notorious crime syndicate in Japan, has a double-digit body count.

Welcome to the most brutal high school on Earth, where the world’s top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained. Murder is an art. Killing is a craft. At King’s Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts, the dagger in your back isn’t always metaphorical, nor is your fellow classmates’ poison.

Join writer RICK REMENDER with rising star WESLEY CRAIG (Batman) and legendary colourist LEE LOUGHRIDGE (Fear Agent) to reminisce about the mid-1980s underground through the eyes of the most damaged and dangerous teenagers on Earth.

Whether it’s been for Marvel or Image, I can’t get enough of Rick Remender’s work right now. I’m thinking of jumping back on Uncanny Avengers but other that I’m really digging his pulpy, fun Captain America run that has really got the character nailed down pretty well. There’s also the stellar Black Science, which is arguably among Remender’s best work yet, so I would be happy with Deadly Class #1 if it was just as half as good as Black Science. However, as it turns out – readers of this book are in for a real treat, because Deadly Class is pretty much on the same level as Black Science in terms of quality. Not in terms of plot, of course – because Black Science is a pulpy, science fiction epic whilst Deadly Class, despite being also pulp fiction, takes place in 1987, featuring very different characters and a great plot that reminisces about the mid-190s underground, with the most deadly and damaged kids on planet Earth.

There are so many great titles coming out from Image and right now it seems they can’t put a foot wrong. There’s the already mentioned Black Science, the long-running Witchblade, the science fiction series Rocket Girl and a lot more that Image have up their sleeves and that’s not including favourites like The Walking Dead, Saga or the upcoming relaunches. Certainly any book coming out from them will gain my attention no matter the premise, but it was partly the premise of Deadly Class that intrigued me to pick this up and it wasn’t just the combination of Rick Remender, Wesley Craig and Lee Loughridge although that did go a great way in helping me make the decision to add this book to my pull.

Deadly Class #1 is more of a set-up issue though for the ongoing series. We get to see Marcus Lopez’ pre King’s Dominion High School life and it’s a pretty poor one. However, the book never feels dull, and Remender manages to captivate the reader and draw them in, and like most Image books, it will probably do even better in trade format – but I just had to check this issue out for myself so I think it’s probably one that I’ll be sticking with in print.

Though Deadly Class seems like it will focus on at least six students from King’s Dominion the main character in this book so far seems to be Marcus Lopez, who’s watched his parents die before his eyes and the decision to explore the character’s past rather than throwing us directly into the thick of things really works in this case – by the time the main plot kicks into gear we will already be attached to the characters which is a problem that if we’re thrust straight into the main storyline we don’t really care enough about the characters involved – something that affects a variety of mediums and not just comics. However, due to the exploration of Marcus’ past in this issue, he instantly makes me want to root for the character and I’m looking forward to seeing him fleshed out before our eyes as the book continues.

I cannot write this review without mentioning the awesomeness of Wesley Craig and Lee Loughridge, who really work wonders on this book. I have encountered Loughridge’s colours before but Craig is a new artist to me and both of them really impress. There’s a reason why the first printing of #1 has already sold out and that’s due to the high quality of all three parts of the creative team involved – more often than not I’ve read comics where the art hasn’t been as good as the story, or vice versa, but when you find the perfect match of talent like you have here – you know you’re in for a treat, and I can’t wait to see what Remender, Craig and Loughridge bring to the table in the future and it should be a blast.

We could well be looking at one of the year’s best new series already – Deadly Class is certainly a book that you’ll want to get on board and I look forward to reading more when I can. It’s going to be great.

Rating: 5/5

Shadowhawk:

Remender recently took the plunge with creator-owned comics with the launch of his pulp SF book Black Science with artists Matteo Scalera and Dean White. There have been two issues so far and both have been excellent. The series even made it to my “5 Best New Comics of 2013” list. When Deadly Class was announced, I was kind of excited about it because the premise sounded really cool. Image has been on quite a high of late, and I was expecting it to be a fairly good new series. I just finished reading the first issue a few minutes ago and I’m wondering if what I read was indeed the right thing, because I’m honestly confused right now.

Marcus Lopez is a vagrant 14-year old, living on his own in the streets of San Francisco, surviving on a night by night basis. He has no money, no clothes (apart from what he wears), no means for anything. And in such a situation, he gets drawn into a sort of manhunt where he is the target of men with guns and a girl who knows her way around a sword ends up saving his life. And that’s when we get to the assassin school part. My confusion stems from two things: first, the issue is nothing at all like what the solicit promises. Second, what exactly went on here? Because that’s the one thing that I couldn’t figure out.

While Remender captures Marcus’ emotions and feelings pretty well, he drops the ball with the story, because there’s never an explanation for why the bad guys are after him, and why the girl Saya has been observing him for several weeks now. Basically, there’s no explanation for what makes Marcus special, and that is frustrating, given the events that happen here. As long as the issue stays in the narrative area of describing Marcus’ life to the reader, things are good. But once the action gets going, its very easy to get lost.

On the art side, the artists all did a fairly good job. There’s a bit of a shadowy palette to the colours here, and some of the characters can be somewhat cliched, but by and large, I have no complaints, not really. Just the kinks need to be worked out, and then we are absolutely golden I think.

Overall, a decent enough start I suppose. Will be trying the next issue before making the call to stop reading the series.

Rating: 6/10

Shadowhawk is a regular contributor to TFF. A resident of Dubai, Shadowhawk reads, reads and reads. His opinions are always clear and concise. His articles always worth reading.

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