Homeless teenage orphan joins assassin’s school. This is the essential premise of Deadly Class, the new Image book from Rick Remender and Wes Craig. It’s 1987 and after being homeless for some time, Marcus Lopez is pretty down in the dumps. Begging for food, sleeping on the streets, fighting bums for shoes, it’s all getting to him. It’s only after a fateful encounter at a festival the Marcus is offered the chance to belong somewhere once again, but this new school is anything but ordinary.
The first issue essentially deals with setting up who Marcus is, how he came to be in his current situation, and leads into the big action of the main story. Pretty standard issue 1 stuff, really. However, most first issues don’t have one of the most terrifying ways to die mentioned more as a sidenote than a major plot point or seed the plot’s past, present, and future so well. While the general story immediately draws comparisons to Wanted or even, a bit more loosely, Image’s Five Weapons, Remender is able make the story feel fresh and to make Marcus likable with little effort. Marcus seems almost fully realized already, likely thanks to Remender’s own personal connection to the story that’s revealed in the backmatter, and that does the story a huge favor. With a good protagonist the story flows well, stumbling only occasionally as it shifts from the more personal look into Marcus’ life to the big action sequence that fills the last half of the book. Still, Remender is able to keep the story going well as a whole and keeps the pacing steady, leading up to the big reveal at the end of it all.
The world of Deadly Class feels rich and is beautifully drawn, thanks to Wes Craig and colorist Lee Loughridge. Loughridge’s monochromatic coloring works well with Craig’s art to show just how low Marcus has gotten. The most memorable scene in all the book though has to be how the duo show the death of Marcus’ parents. It’s easily one of the most gruesome deaths I’ve seen in recent comics and the page was one that I lingered on for several minutes, soaking it all in. Craig is able to capture the resignation in the early pages as Marcus contemplates his life on the streets just as well as he’s able to capture the action and almost joy that dominates the last half of the book. And the final two page spread really shows Craig’s art skills as things really get interesting.
Deadly Class is yet another Image #1 that delivers in a big way, which should be no surprise by now. Remender and Craig deliver a story that’s a bit personal while it plays with some previously visited concepts but makes them feel fresh and fun. This a definite must-read from Image.
Parental Concern: Moderate. Marcus’ life isn’t the easiest.