Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Wes Craig
Colorist: Jordan Boyd
Publisher: Image Comics
Marcus learns another life lesson upon returning with Maria to King’s Dominion: you can’t go home again. The past is gone, but the problems are the same in the latest issue of Rick Remender’s coming-of-age pulp thriller, Deadly Class #39. Marcus comes back from Mexico a Legacy and a minor celebrity. But the deaths of his closest friends still loom over his achievement. He is heartbroken, increasingly distant toward his girlfriend, and unable to see that the power-hungry Student Body Council plots against him.
How he deals with these issues says as much about the comic’s creator as it does the main character. Remender’s tendency toward bleak nihilism has always cast a shadow over this Image comic. Marcus is ever the closed-off cynic. His disappointment at the world and its problems leads him to undercut his own triumphant return. Maria, frustrated by his moping at the prospect of a convivial Christmas holiday, storms off. So, he finds himself alone and vulnerable to a scheming Shabnam and the Council.
But there might be hope. Over the series, the writer has risen above his own pessimism to occasionally provide us with a different Marcus. This is the open idealist who kicks drugs, grieves for his parents, and cherishes friendships. In this issue, he takes steps toward finding closure for Willie’s death. And, he strikes up an alliance with Stephen, one of the arc’s more interesting characters. These choices and a surprise reunion at issue’s end return the theme of unity to the center of the story. Maybe we can change the world’s problems, Reminder muses, if we remember that we’re all part of the same family.
The expert artistic team does their part to move the story in an upbeat direction. I always enjoy Jordan Boyd’s colors on this comic, which shift depending on character and mood. And, there has been a quiet cooling of Marcus’s palette toward the calm blues and pinks of a young adult finally learning to control his emotions. I also think Craig’s panel work is an underappreciated aspect of the art. He does a fine job of using shape and placement to set Marcus off against his enemies and unite him with his friends. The arrangement of the last two panels was by far the best moment of this comic book.
Don’t let the SyFy series cancellation get you down. Remender and Craig are still here and better than ever. Deadly Class #39 proves them to be a lasting and entertaining force in creator-owned comics.