By Rick Remender, Wes Craig & Lee Loughridge
There are a handful of comic book writers out there who turn anything they touch to gold. Rick Remender should be included in this elite few. With an impressive number of fantastic creator-owned titles including the astonishing new Black Science, the sheer awesomeness of Deadly Class #1 probably should have been anticipated. Despite this, there were actually no expectations going into this book. There was initially a bit of hesitation about the concept, but after reading issue #1 it’s safe to say that Remender has knocked this one out the park.
Most of Deadly Class #1 follows the central character as he makes his way living on the streets. The issue is full of narration from the young protagonist, all of which is intelligent and deeply written, and provides interesting insight into the character and the world around him. The progression and pacing of the story is pitch-perfect with many moments that are both heart-breaking and profound. The story is also delivered in a fairly mysterious and indirect manner; the reader isn’t really told anything directly. Instead, the narrator speaks almost like this could be the second issue in the series. However, this actually manages to engage the reader even more! The writing conveys everything you need to know in an interesting, sincere, and dynamic way that doesn’t require holding readers’ hands through the introductions. Again, while most of the issue deals with the protagonist living on the streets even these pages are exciting with appropriate amounts of both action and intrigue, while the central player already shows a ton of potential to be a very engaging and ‘human’ character. The subtle mysterious elements that crop up throughout the book really help to build this story to the concluding panels. While initially a little unsure of the overall concept for this series, these uncertainties have definitely been put to rest! When the Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts is finally introduced the moment is thrilling and fans are sure to be frothing at the mouth to get a better peak inside next month.
Speaking of panels, the visual organization of Deadly Class #1 is, like the writing, pitch-perfect. Wes Craig’s illustrations have a charming subtle minimalistic sensibility, while still providing ample character and environment detail and realism. The actual layouts feel quite dynamic and give the book a real sense of motion, particularly during the action sequences. Combined with Lee Loughridge’s phenomenal colors, Deadly Class has a very strong pulp look that is sure to become a fan favorite. Actually, even considering how fantastic the story and illustrations are, Loughridge’s colors were probably a personal favorite aspect of this first installment. The minimalistic coloring style enhances the pulp look of the visuals, while each major scene is draped in varying shades of a single dominant tone. The precision and power of this color work is really something special to behold. Furthermore, this method of coloring really helps emphasize the overall emotional tone of each scene using very appropriate dominant color schemes.
Even considering the impressive titles previously written by Rick Remender, Deadly Class #1 was a big surprise. This was a first issue that didn’t feel like a first issue, and it worked spectacularly. Heavy exposition and tedious background information is cast off in favor of an engaging, exciting, and wildly intriguing story that works on every level. The characters are interesting, the plot is amazing, and the artwork is a new favorite. There’s something here that fans of any genre can enjoy!