by Rick Remender, Wes Craig, Lee Loughridge
Emotions have been running high and the events of Deadly Class have been full throttle for the past several issues. As issue thirteen saw the group of misfits return to Kings Dominion, the ensuing issue slows a bit, leaving Remender and Craig space to explore their lead character, his state of mind, and the fallout of what has occurred. Here, the raw emotional core of the character, and even the creators, seeps through, creating an introspective and rather sullen chapter filled with existentialism and littered with high school dramatics.
In most high schools, the idea of a boy dating a girl, then cheating on her, only to regret his mistake and go crawling back to the first is par for the course. With Deadly Class, those events are surrounded by beheadings and gunfire. Sometimes, as a result, it can be a challenge to remember that the characters of the story are, in fact, still young teens. Marcus is impulsive, dramatic, and a terrible decision maker. But in that way, Marcus encompasses a lot of the emotional core and poor choices of most individuals’ high school years. In this fourteenth chapter of Deadly Class, the outcast has become even more disconnected and defeated than he has been since the start of the series. After finding himself a family and finally feeling wanted, Marcus has made a number of bad choices that only lead him right back to being alienated. Remender and Craig do a fantastic job of engaging the reader enough to want to root for the lead character, only to be weighed down at each poor choice he has made.
Remender and Craig shine through a bit here, as well. The creators have admitted that much of this story and its characters are sourced from their own history. It has certainly been a few issues since getting such severe introspection, but the voices of the creative team can certainly be heard in the inner monologue of the lead character as he wanders about in the weeks following their return to King’s Dominion. With much of the violence put on hold in this issue, there is a lot to connect to in these pages. Remender’s dialogue and narration through Marcus feel incredibly honest and for many readers, this issue will strike a chord with past experiences and struggles to find a home in the world. In a phenomenal sequence, the teen finds the courage to confront Saya about his feelings (feelings that seem to change with the wind, but that’s teen years, right?). Craig and Loughridge focus in on the two, dropping all surrounding images, structures and people. Despite taking place in a populated diner, the art team creates a sensation that makes the two feel like they are the only people in the world. It’s an excellent scene that is punctuated through the art in these understated, but effective ways.
There is a raw energy to the entire issue. Marcus’ spirit leaves him at one point, floating up to the street as he recognizes his distance from both the world around him and the world above him. Later, the boy dreams of a picture from his childhood home, as he remembers days with his father. In each sequence, from the beginning of the issue, through its final moments, the creative team has taken the time to reflect on where the lead character has found himself after the series of events of the last arc. The book has been on a speeding train; now that it has found a bit of calm, the demons have crept back into Marcus’ head. This is an issue that spends much of its time in the mind of this broken teen. It’s heavy and truthful and filled with emotion. Despite being a change of pace from the past string of issues, the craft and quality by Remender, Craig and Loughridge are no less impeccable. Deadly Class #14 is as strong an issue as any that have come in the series so far.