$3.50 | 22pgs
Rick Remender, Wes Craig, Lee Loughridge
“Civility is just lying to people about your true feelings. Hiding for personal gain. Popular people, well, they’re just the best liars”
Deadly Class is a great series by writer Rick Remender (LOW, Uncanny X-Force) and Artist Wes Craig (Black Hand Comics) that follows a group of teenagers who are seeking to survive the most troubling and life defining institution of all: high school!
What makes this high school, King’s Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts, a wee bit different from other schools is that the classes can literally kill you. King’s Dominion is where the world’s deadliest assassins are trained to carry on the time honored tradition of murdering people for a fee.
The lead in the series is Marcus Aguello, a homeless outcast who is considered a “rat. Not as in a snitch, but as in someone who has no affiliations to gangs, the government, or organized crime families. Marcus’ life on the streets has pushed him to the breaking point, enough that joining a school for assassins seems like a reasonable alternative for him. It is at King’s Dominion where Marcus finally finds a measure of acceptance with a crew of other misfits prone to acts of self-destructive behavior.
Willie, Billy, Saya, Maria and Marcus are all brought together by the shared desire to not want to be at the school. Their journey to make it through each day without succumbing to depression, or someone literally stabbing them in the back to take their significant other, provides the perfect twist for the “students at a gifted school” genre. The other character, hidden in plain sight, is the late ‘80’s counter culture era in which the series takes place. President Ronald Reagan and his “Reaganomics” initiative plays a surprising role early on, with music from the era also playing a role in shaping these characters and their perceptions about their place in the world.
At its core Deadly Class is a story of the trials and tribulations that anyone who has attended high school can relate to. Having a crush, deciding on what courses to take (Assassin Psychology, Poison, or AP Black Arts?) dealing with popularity woes, facing the big man on campus, and impressing the teacher’s you like while attempting to skate through classes that you don’t enjoy. Deadly Class has all of that mixed in with drug induced road trips to Las Vegas, Mexican cartels that want revenge, and the absolute worst freshman final exam you could ever dare try to survive.
This article would be incomplete without mentioning the artistic MONSTER that is Wes Craig. He illustrates acid trips with the same aplomb as he details a gunfight with deformed hillbillies or a fiery standoff with the Mexican cartel. Not only does he come with it on the internal visuals that tell the tale of these youth, he also creates some of the best comic covers since Dave Johnson’s run on 100 Bullets. These covers are phenomenal!
Deadly Class is a book you need to experience for yourself. The best way to describe this book is as the equivalent of the Jeopardy answer for: “What if Kill Bill had a three-way with Harry Potter and Hunter S. Thompson?”
Go cop some of the back issues or pick-up the collected editions – you won’t regret it!