By Rick Remender, Wes Craig & Jordan Boyd
The killer series finally returns with what is sure to be a brutal arc. What’s fascinating about this issue in particular is that it operates as a bit of a refresher or “recap episode” for what has unfolded in Deadly Class up ‘til now, but the book presents the material in such an experimental, refreshing way. It’s a fever dream of a comic, in the best way possible.
After the carnage and tragedy that took place prior, the focus truly returns to Marcus Lopez and his journey while leaving him at a crossroads. The issue centralizes the conflict of man vs self in a shocking and revelatory fashion that allows artists Wes Craig and Jordan Boyd to flourish and have their talents be showcased to maximum effect. Depicting trauma, confusion, suffering and loss in a metaphorical, yet literal fashion is something that absolutely makes no sense in theory, but this art team accomplishes this very feat. After collaborating with these two for 35 comics, writer Rick Remender clearly knows he has truly innovative partners in comic crime because the art completely infuses life into this issue, which is at it should be in the medium. That’s not to say Remender’s writing is lacking in any fashion, quite the opposite.
The narrative is fairly easy to follow, but suffused with the ideology and themes that are the underpinnings of the entire comic. It operates on a several levels: as a plot refresher, thematic reminder, character affirmation and, ultimately, plot progression. It’s a real testament to Rick Remender’s skill in the craft. Incorporating all those elements could make a comic dense and an utter slog to read, but he, along with the artists, make the content digestible and completely immersive. Each page brings somethings new, yet familiar to the table; a smorgasbord of creative talent from start to finish.
Craig’s use of page space, panel layout design and really just his overall presentational decisions make his work truly avant-garde. This book is a fantastic encapsulation of what he’s capable of. On each page, he gives readers a new style or depiction that forces them to pay attention, not only to his and Boyd’s work, but to Rick Remender’s words. He has a rhythm and flow that guides the eye. Now, what’s truly a marvel is how, even with the blend of conventional and unconventional storytelling, the emotions and hearts of the characters, in particular Marcus, shines through completely. There’s one page with Marcus and his girlfriend, Maria, that is split-screened by the colors, channeling Katsuhiro Otomo’s detailed backgrounds and size contrast, such as in Akira, to a stunningly beautiful degree. It evokes the scope and tribulations of their journey and the depths of their feelings. The comic is littered with similar intricate imagery.
Jordan Boyd’s color elevates the panels and pages with motif color schemes to provide the most visual and emotional impact he can deliver. It may seem minimalistic, but make no mistake, he is doing exactly what’s necessary to give Wes Craig’s pencils and inks the maximum radiance. He also combines complimentary and incongruent colors, furthering the ethereal experience that this issue depicts through an almost punk-like fashion. The color work by Boyd absolutely adds a depth and texture that is vital to the gritty, emotional nature of Deadly Class.
This particular issue, just like the series itself, can’t be praised enough. This creative team has, since issue one, continually delivered powerful content that embraces and challenges the comics medium in form and content. It’s easily one of the Top 10 best comics across all publishers currently and may very well withstand the test of time. The TV series adaptation also premieres this week on the SYFY channel, so readers new to the title better start picking up the singles or trades before they become scarce. Also, be sure to check the show, the pilot is fantastic!