Certain creators engender a sense of faith. With them, we know that our micro investments (dollars three, four, and otherwise) will yield stories of depth and originality – we will feel something and it will feel good when we put the book down before we remember what waiting 30 days feels like. Rick Remender is one of those creators. He has earned our blind loyalty with his loyalty to the practice of crackerjack comic booking. We’re devout because of Fear Agent, Black Science, much of the work done for Marvel, and so on and so forth.
Now Remender wants us to go back to the ’80s with him and he wants to tell us about this batch of kids who are fruit from the rotted tree of this world’s worst criminals. They’re training to be assassins at the King’s Dominion School for the Deadly Arts — an institution whose secrets figure to be revealed with a drip drop kind of anti-swiftness. Though it seems as though Deadly Class will eventually focus on at least six students from King’s Dominion, we initially only get to know Marcus, a homeless and scarred teenage orphan who witnessed the death of his parents.
I’m smitten by the prospect of a deeper look into Marcus’ past, but it’s the way that Remender uses the character’s homelessness to explore the sins of the 1980s that really wows. Especially since that decade is often myopically misremembered for little more than Cabbage Patch Dolls and big hair when portrayed in pop culture.
By the way, Remender’s skillful storytelling and the allure of this mysterious school are all appetizers. The real majesty of Deadly Class comes from — at least initially — the art team of Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge. Watch them combine to present a flashback with the page dripping in blood and horror after employing only a stark red balloon and nostalgic greys before darting back to do it all over again.
How do we move from Marcus’ legit sob story to the revelations about King’s Dominion and its shadowy students? A pace quickening chase sequence that runs through alleys to encounter a ghost-white vision with ruby red lips, raven hair, and a motorbike that zips around corners in a panoramic trio of panels that will pull your lower lip down with the weight of awe.
It’s not often that you see an action sequence commandeer a book for 11 pages (out of 36). It’s not often that a writer will have enough faith in their abilities, in the skill of their collaborators, and in their reader’s ability to keep up, but once again faith is rewarded and the reader is left thrilled and off-balance in the best possible way.
Hot damn, 30 days is a long time.
Deadly Class #1Writer: Rick RemenderArtist: Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge (Colorist)