by Rick Remender, Wes Craig, Lee Loughridge
Deadly Class #8 was a fantastic flashback issue that gave readers a bit of history between Marcus and Chester Wilson, before he became the deformed killer that chased Marcus and his friends through Las Vegas a few issues back. He has Chico’s body, and before anyone finds out, the crew must take him out. Now that readers know a bit more about Chester and his connection to Marcus, Remender and Craig bring readers back once again. This time, the setting is Maria’s childhood home. In a way, this is Craig and Remender’s version of an origin story. This tragic and horrifying event is Maria’s dark alley and pearl necklace. Everything about the construction of this sequence is fantastic, in an overall strong next chapter in the series.
While issue eight opened in present day, finding Saya and Marcus speaking on a rooftop before bringing readers back to the orphanage that brought Chester and Marcus’s lives together, this issue opens in Maria’s home. An ordinary night is disrupted when a child comes to the door. Even though his initial presentation shows no obvious misgivings, there is an unsettling sensation at the arrival of this child. Calm and quiet shifts to chaotic devastation as the house is raided and set ablaze. Remender certainly knows how to craft a tragedy. The bits of dialogue and series of events over the first third of Deadly Class #9 are impactful. Wes Craig lays out the panels in the sequence that perfectly captures the chaos abound. Changing up the presentation and arrangement of the images, angling panels, then shifting from horizontal to vertical, the imagery never confuses the reader, but creates a sense of panicked adrenaline to match the events. Loughridge continues to round out the sequence with brilliant coloring choices. What starts as a pale blue scene quickly is filled with flashes of oranges, yellows and whites. Loughridge even inverts the colors at a certain point to further capture the flashes of light erupting throughout the home. All of this precedes the arrival of a man known as “El Alma del Diablo” or “The Soul of the Devil.” Here, Maria’s life and Chico’s interact for the first time, and readers begin to understand just why everyone in the present wishes to hide the truth about Chico to avoid it reaching his family. Once more, Loughridge and Craig depict an image that conveys so much information without any further writing.
This initial sequence of Deadly Class #9 covers a bit more than a third of the issue, but certainly could be the entirety of the ninth chapter and would leave most readers satisfied. As the issue continues, the story flips back to present day and it picks up with the group as they go about their lives, trying to partake in their schooling while still finding time to plan their attack. An exercise that pits Maria against a classmate has more weight to it now as readers understand more about the girl and what she has been through. It seems that this arc of Deadly Class will not only push the plot forward, but find room to delve into the main cast. These moments of personal examination can sometimes be rote and disjointed, providing little necessary information and taking away from the forward momentum. Instead, Remender and the creative team on Deadly Class not only maintain momentum, but color it with these bits of character. Craig’s fluidity as he arranges and depicts the exercise is as impressive as the first action sequence he illustrated for the series, using small panels of a foot or weapon to quicken the pace, while still allowing for most of the space to be devoted to larger images of the skirmish.
As the issue comes to a close, the series moves back towards its initial issues in tone and focus as it feels more like a reflection on teenage life, high school and impulse. Marcus’s decisions in the latter portion of Deadly Class #9 are expected, though still frustrating. Remender manages to keep the progression of the character authentic, leaving most readers understanding of, but annoyed with, Marcus. And it comes in the letters page that readers really don’t know much about one of the major characters. Though that shouldn’t be a surprise, like Marcus many readers may not have realized just how little they know despite developing an instant trust and fondness of this individual. With that and a tease of the cover for issue 10, the final pages of this issue certainly do well to tease what lies ahead.