Deadly Class #36

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Wes Craig
Colorist: Jordan Boyd
Publisher: Image Comics

Review by Jim Allegro

Grief and pain stand at the center of the latest issue of Rick Remender’s melancholy tribute to youth culture. Timed with the debut of the new Syfy series on Wednesdays at 10pm, the newest arc of Deadly Class picks up a year after the end of the last chapter. Headmaster Lin has tasked the new freshman class with returning the survivors of Freshman Frenzy to Kings Dominion. But do Marcus and Maria want to return? The answer brings us back to the core themes that have shaped this Image book from the start: namely friendship and family, loneliness and loss, and the emotional suffering of adolescence.

Family is a shaping influence of Remender’s (Tokyo Ghost) work, whether told through inter-dimensional travelers or dying knights. And in this action thriller, the main character has lost two families. Marcus blames President Reagan’s cost-cutting regime for his parents’ untimely death, and now he has lost his surrogate family of school friends to Freshman Frenzy. Deadly Class #36 is his quest to grieve that loss and return to school with Maria. It is a mental and psychic journey through the friends and others at Kings Dominion who have touched his life. These encounters also allow Remender to summarize the basic story for those newcomers who might be drawn to the comic book because of the television show.

The point of this journey is that Marcus must confront his guilt about surviving the killing spree. At its best, Deadly Class is a coming-of-age story that happens to be about assassins. Fans of the book have watched Marcus grow up quite a bit. He has come off the streets, kicked an addiction, and learned to trust and love. The relationships that he has formed at school have helped him to overcome his rage at his parents’ death. And, now, with the death of this surrogate family, he must learn the most adult of lessons: the people you love sometimes go away. Accepting that fact by deciding to return with Maria hints that he is no longer the detached, angry teenager who joined Kings Dominion. He is learning to accept the world for what it is and to fight its inequities from within.

The artistic team of Wes Craig and Jordan Boyd bring to life Remender’s entertaining bildungsroman. Craig (Batman) is deft in his use of screen-tone shading and other techniques to maintain the pace of Marcus’s psychic journey. Boyd (Invisible Republic) compliments this approach by expertly shifting among color and shading patterns to deepen the texture of this tussle with grief. In all, the skillful artwork on this comic continues to evoke the jagged emotional roller-coaster that is growing up in America during the late 1980s.

Verdict: Buy It!

BUY the comic and then check out the first episode of Deadly Class on Syfy tonight at 10pm.

Jim Allegro

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