by Rick Remender, Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge
It seems as if recently, Rick Remender is out to prove that there is no book he can’t write. Not only that, but with licensed characters it seems as though there is no title he can’t write as honestly and captivating as the writer previously associated with that the most legendary run. With Deadly Class, Remender has delved into a very interesting world of crime, underworld and the most threatening time in modern human history, high school.
Despite the purpose of this school, as Marcus makes his way through the day, it is clear that Remender is writing about the landscape of the high school environment and the teenage experience. Marcus is the outcast, the punk, the antithesis to society, corporations and anything resembling conformity. In that way, Marcus is not entirely a singular character but a physical form encompassing the experience of those cast out by their refusal to adopt the norm. He is not quite Tyler Durden. Remender does infuse the character with a bit of naivety, weakness and doubt that reminds readers that this is still a kid, driven my emotion, and trying to find his way.
Another duality of Marcus is that his is equal parts unique and familiar. There is a lot about Marcus that defines him as complete and an organic result of particular experiences. However, Remender is able to find a way to write him so that a reader who has experienced moments of rejection and been left outside the circle can latch onto Marcus’ anger and sympathize with his character. It’s a tricky and fine line, but it’s handled with grace.
In the second issue, as Marcus makes his way through his class schedule, readers explore some of the other major players here, as well as the world of this school. Remender includes some fantastic lines of anti-establishment. The vignettes of the courses make for fun teases of world building, and the students’ first homework assignment provides insight into the places Remender will take the audience. It will be interesting to see how much of this story builds on the pitch of a place that trains assassins and how much will play as allegory for teen years and conformity. Either way, this is Remender’s most personal work. From the back matter, it’s clear that this book is a lot of series artist Wes Craig, as well.
Craig’s art is fantastic. The pages mostly function in grid like nature, but the way in which the panels are split up and placed relative to the layout communicate much more than a traditional grid. Craig is not so focused on photorealism in his design, but manages to capture a very specific character form for those of the main cast. Lee Loughridge utilizes a lot of setting-specific color palettes. A skim of the pages emphasizes the shifts in color tones, from a page favoring pinks, to one of dark blues. They generate a great mood for the sequences, filling out the backgrounds and space. The art fuses very well with the pacing of the story creating an excellent finished project.
With the second issue of Deadly Class, it is looks like Remender has a long play in mind. Though the premise sounds like it will be filled with action sequences, there is a large focus on character and human interaction here. This is not as bombastic as Remender’s Black Science, but the work being done here is magnificent. Those willing to see it through are likely to be rewarded with something possibly even greater.