By Rick Remender, Wes Craig, Lee Loughridge
“Morality is just comfort food – it holds no meaning outside of our minds.”
For as deep into science fiction as Remender has been known to get, Deadly Class is a cold gust of wind first thing in the morning. The book’s hook definitely exists in the world of fiction, but the writing and interactions on display from panel to panel are grounded a bleak. Remender and Craig, co-creators for Deadly Class, are producing something distinctly personal and human, and issue three continues to explore relationships, purpose, and our place in this world. It was unclear whether this would be a book about assassins or a book about characters learning to adjust to the world. Now, the two seem less of different paths, instead being much more intertwined and this cohesion strengthens the story.
The cover of this third issue almost acts as it first panel. The opening beats of the chapter pick up with Marcus and Willie speeding across the rooftop of their city as Marcus reflects on risks and the delusion of invincibility. The two jump and it’s a nearly fatal choice for Willie. Marcus admits the foolishness of such a decision and it calls into question the things people do to try to fit in. Here, the lead character, so unsure of himself, must put his life in danger to look brave and cool, to win a friend. While his decision might not be one readers may be familiar with, it is another instance of parallels to anyone picking up this title. How often does a person do something so incredibly unintelligent or out of the norm to show off and earn credibility, gain attention, and maybe respect?
Issue three’s entire story follows Marcus and Willie as they move about the city, reflecting on their own personalities and public perception with regard to putting up a false front of toughness or being open about one’s weaknesses. The conversation comes through talk of music and trends and self expression. Another interesting element of this issue is that of their assignment: to kill a vagrant that no one would miss. Marcus loosely acknowledges that essentially he is being assigned to kill his previous self when he mentions that only a day ago would he have fit that description. This choice is an example of where the two aspects of the story fuse so well.
Loughridge and Craig continue to craft a beautiful visual world for Deadly Class. The book’s coloring continues to boast strong and dark hues to sequences of panels that share a setting. Colors that exude dusk, firelight, and dawn all communicate a tone very quickly and effectively. And when Loughridge drops the hues away in favor if something nearly black and white, there is no more information needed to tell a reader these panels are a flashback. Craig’s designs continue to communicate a lot of personality and character without requiring a ton of realistic detail to a scene or a character.
The story’s end is brilliant and may be what cements the overall direction of this chapter in solidifying the capability of the series and its suggested intentions as organic and logically connected. Marcus and Willie retreat back to a familiar stopping ground of Marcus’ as the day begins to break having chosen to bail on their homework. As the closing sequence transpires, a stark and unforgettable scene, the perspective pulls back over a few panels. Colors shift, figures become forms before they are impossible to make out at all. The scene is quiet, small and it’s an amazing juxtaposition to what has just transpired. Something so significant and yet barely significant at all. Who would even notice? In an issue meant to take on allusions and delusions of self worth and perception, Remender and Craig finish with their strongest argument for the position and it might be the best issue of Deadly Class so far.