It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a single issue of Deadly Class, but I’m back just in time for one hell of an arc. Bloodshed. Murder. Betrayal! Cheerleaders with razorblades in their pom-poms! Oh, the humanity! Is it good?
Deadly Class #18 (Image Comics)
The massacre continues onward in Deadly Class as the student body tries to kill all of the students who are considered Rats. Lots of drama, lots of action, and lots and lots of blood to be shed.
Going into the fourth arc initially, I was admittedly on the fence. The third arc sort of lost itself along the way the more it focused on Marcus and his character and I was thinking that was going to hold true for this new arc. Not so much as it turned out. The last couple of issues, especially this one, expanded the focus of the series and started looking at everyone else. Instead of being a comic that focused hard on one character and occasionally gave small bits of development to others, this arc made the comic into more of an ensemble piece. Everyone, including bit and background characters we’ve seen throughout the series, have been getting more time and spotlight. We’re getting more backstory for some, motivations for others, and all of it is honestly for the best.
Deadly Class’ true strength is when it is developing its characters and showing their backstories. We got more Willie for instance, seeing his fears about killing people and how it relates to his past. Kendal, a background character for the most part, got a bit of focus and we’re getting to see how he is being set up for a dark fall. Shabnam, someone who has been going under the radar for most of the series, is really coming into his own and showing himself to be an incredibly effective villain and also a force to be reckoned with in own way. The supporting cast is what makes this series compelling, so the more their arcs or histories become expanded on, the better this comic becomes.
On the other hand, you are equally a terrible person Marcus. So there’s that.
The creative team of Rick Remender and Wes Craig did a solid job overall. Remender’s writing is pretty good, especially when he doesn’t go for shock or edginess like in past issues. His characterization for almost everyone is very strong and the dialogue is pretty good for the most part. There’s no issue with the pacing or story structure, leading to a very smooth and easy to follow read. Criag’s artwork is still slowly growing on me as time goes on. He does some good layouts and fight scenes within the issue that pack a lot of punch and power to them. Plus, he’s good at conveying emotion and the drama in the characters’ body language and how they look at one another.
The greatest weakness of the comic remains the main character himself, Marcus Lopez. While his backstory is interesting and offers the chance of sympathy, he himself is neither interesting nor sympathetic. He makes things worse for himself constantly, rarely admits he causes problems or pushes people away, and he rarely does anything actually interesting. As a main character, especially in a cast of very well-developed and complex characters, he’s just does not measure up and it’s frustrating to read at times. It feels more apparent than ever in this arc that he desperately needs more development.
Hey, if you’ve seen Star Trek, it would be a great idea to bring him along. He can be the fodder while you all escape!
Any other problems with the comic are small, but add up. Wes Criag’s artwork often leaves a lot of blank space in the pages and many of the backgrounds are featureless voids that don’t look great. There’s a forced moment where it seems like the writer is trying to make one bad guy even worse by killing an animal, even though it doesn’t make sense where the dog exactly appeared. Finally, the moment with Kendal and what happens to him isn’t as dramatic or as strong as it could be since this relationship between him and someone else was not remotely built up at all. None of this dramatically hurts the issue, but it does hold it back just a tad from being as great as it could be.
Is It Good?
Deadly Class #18 is one of the series’ best issues to date. The amount of the character development and growth was fantastic and very compelling. The personal stories and small fights are really elevating the comic as a whole, even if the main character and some parts of the writing could use some work. Hopefully this is a sign of good, but nasty things to come for this series in the future.