by Rick Remender, Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge
The series of Deadly Class has taken an interesting ride in its first arc. The story both introduced an interesting and eye-grabbing concept of an assassin school while dropping readers into a specific time period and coming off a bit of a confessional or character study. Marcus, as much his own character, appears to be an amalgam of the creative team. As such, the arc has felt a bit uneven when looked at on the whole, but each of the issues has delivered an individual gut punch of emotion. The misfit crew have been put through the wringer in Las Vegas and the final issue of the first arc looks to lay it on even thicker before the sun rises.
Deadly Class #6 opens right where the last issue closed, with Marcus lying on the floor of the convenience store having been beaten to near-death by Maria’s boyfriend, Chico. The cops have arrived, and are in the process of arresting the teen as readers are brought back into the world. Craig continues to play with page layouts and panel perspectives as this scene cuts between close-ups to the characters, playing up the close quarters of this very tense setting, and an overhead vantage point. Not one to be ordered around, or let his business go unfinished, Chico waits for the perfect moment to turn the scenario in his favor and it is not long before he is back in full control, only to realize Marcus has found a way to escape the store.
The chapter does not cover nearly as much ground as the past two issues have, but it may also be the most enthralling and captivating issue yet. Rather than head into another chase scene or feature several sequences, Remender focuses in on this altercation and lets the scene play out over the majority of the issue. In that way, the effects of the brutality are even more strongly felt. Chico will not stop until he is satisfied that he has gotten his point across. In a sickening moment of true evil, Chico leaves a gun between him and Marcus, goading him to beat him to it and save himself. Marcus, barely able to lift his head at this point and still hallucinating, is almost hard to watch. Craig and Loughridge, despite the lengths to which Chico has gone to beat the kid, avoid taking the book to a point of grotesque. As violent as some of the moments are, the panels do not depict any gore in such a way that is exploitative or disgusting. The impact is more emotional that way.
As the final issue of the opening arc comes to a close, Craig and Loughridge put the crew on a path back home, with the sun rising on their backs. The issue, which takes place mostly in the early hours of the morning, was filled with deep blues and blacks. As readers reach this fantastic coda, the warmth is almost radiating from the page as the hue shifts to yellow and orange. At the same time, along the borders, Remender scripts a monologue as Marcus reflects on the notion of the silence that follows a play date as a child and the calm that returns after the excitement has ceased. Once again, Remender is able to perfectly capture core human emotions and associations. The final two pages evoke a very specific sensation and make for an excellent send off. The group is now bonded, and it looks like they’ll need that for what lies ahead.