by Rick Remender, Wes Craig, Lee Loughridge
There are bad days, there are legendarily bad days, and then there are days where conspiracy above any level of coincidence seems to be the only explanation. Marcus has that kind of bad day in what amounts to an incredibly unfortunate, but impressive tenth issue of Deadly Class. Teenagers are rarely known for their decision-making skills, though Marcus makes a case for how poor his can be in this issue, as a number of threads come crashing together.
There are a number of things in the first half of this issue that readers probably can identify with on some level. As the book opens, Marcus experiences a whirlwind of regret. Mixed with the adrenaline caused by his also being late for work, the sequence is an impactful one. The art team uses a layout format that he has employed previously in the book, creating margins for the narration. Most of the images are uninterrupted by text. Overlapping sporadically throughout Marcus’ sprint to work are flashes of Saya, Maria and other small images and moments. Craig and Loughridge keep the visuals simple, but the effect is visceral and immediate, and readers will empathize even when they don’t identify with Marcus. Remender brings the sequence home with a running, self-detrimental reflection as Marcus crucifies himself, convinced of how much better off he and the others would be if he’d kept to himself. There is a lot of personal reflection here, and the possible transparency of the creators makes this segment almost uncomfortable in a way.
As this first half of the tenth issue comes to a close, the book reaches a point that almost undercuts the visceral and relatable pages that have come before. The initial reaction is to groan, or maybe even to laugh. The honest disdain that Marcus feels towards all those around him is something people in the working world have probably reached at one point in another during a bad day. Every question, behavior, and menial task feels like fuel and it’s almost astonishing that the thoughts remain just that. Somehow though, actions are fought back, retorts are swallowed and some may even feign a smile. But not Marcus. Remender, Craig and Loughridge deliver a conclusion to this growing fury and its wondrously gross. It may almost seem a step too far and yet it works. Maybe the message the creators of Deadly Class want to convey is that every once in a while a person might as well say, “screw it,” and forget trying to be civil. Maybe readers are supposed to laugh because everyone has been there, or at least the moments just before. Laughing at the absurdity, whether intended or not, is a legitimate response to the scene, and what follows makes putrid poetry of the entire scenario.
In the latter portion of this issue, the crew from the boarding school set out to carry out their assault on the residence belonging to Marcus’ long time rival. A retaliation set in motion back in Las Vegas, the sequence is presented in an Ocean’s Eleven like sequence as Craig and Remender blend the blueprints and planning with the actual event. But acting on emotion leaves a person vulnerable, and the tactical invasion does not go quite as planned. As several storylines come crashing together, bullets flying about, the book maybe gives the perfect rationalization of just why Remender has Marcus choose to retaliate the way he did at the comic shop. It may be juvenile, and it may be overt, but that’s exactly the spirit of the series. Marcus is a teenager, impulsive and headstrong, and in no way subtle. Maybe its perfect that the metaphor is as well, leaving the teen literally drenched in his own mess as elements of his past and present choices all come to a head.