by Rick Remender, Wes Craig and Jordan Boyd
The newest arc in the series, Deadly Class returns with an all out war. The culling, hinted at during one of the Marcus’s paranoid rants in a past issue, is meant to weed out the weak. Master Lin looks to narrow the ranks and expose those unfit to remain enrolled in a blood bath. This issue is a fast-paced thrill ride that begins to set the school into factions as everyone looks out for number one.
At the best moments in this chapter, the book mirrors similar predecessors in highlighting the animalistic nature to survive as well as creating hyperbolic presentations of personalities and subgroups of people. Throughout the course of the series, the creators have maintained an ongoing reflection on the nature of people as well as the world of high school through the lens of this hyper-violent universe. This Lord of the Flies-like narrative explodes as Lin turns the freshman class against one another as their final exam. A majority of the issue flies by in a blur, mirrored in the artwork from Wes Craig and Jordan Boyd. Readers are catapulted forward along with Marcus as the mayhem erupts in the halls. Remender has a bit of fun with the stereotypes here, having the cheerleaders literally chanting amidst the gore. The chapter barely takes a moment to breathe and readers will likely do the same as the students turn on each other.
While the action is very well handled, and the tension maintained from start to finish, the difficulty here is that some of the elements of the present situation tie into moments from the first few issues of the book. Remender has done an excellent job using the school setting as the backdrop, but Kings Dominion has hardly been integral to the plot since the first story arc. Even though it continues to be a setting in the story, its role has been rather minor. As a result, some of the references to the different groups or character motivations may be hard to recall for readers following along in single issues.
There is a fine line between telling the story naturally and keeping the readers aware of important elements along the way. In this instance, though there is true excitement throughout the chapter, readers might be distracted a bit in trying to recall earlier issues. The presentation of the rat alone occurred in an otherwise unceremonious scene in the second issue. Looked at a certain way, it is impressive to see how early the present events were set in motion. Still, their effectiveness may have paid off more greatly had this bit of story telling been better carried through subsequent issues.
The enjoyment of this issue and the present situation the students have fallen into might somewhat hinge on where readers fall on this aspect of the narrative. While Remender, Craig and Boyd continue to do excellent work, it may be somewhat hindered by a few decisions. Still, this story arc looks to bring an entirely new dynamic to Deadly Class. As the divisions set it, a brand new layer emerges to this story.
Honestly my main criticisms with this series is that we barely know any cliques or gangs, sure we got some information in issue 2 but know we have these students with history and relationships. Hell this school has an athletics program with a star quarterback, how the hell does that work exactly.