“The Bone Machine” arc encapsulates Deadly Class‘s rhythm as a series pretty well. We begin on the heights of action, pitched into campy levels of absurdity. But the middle becomes a repetitive slog of non-action. Thankfully, coming toward the end of the arc, things ramp into action and payoffs, which is what we’ve got in #43.
Sure, Remender is still going to town on this death cult, who’ve suddenly become the main bad guys now. Does it make sense? Probably not, but with lines like, “Kill them if we can. Gang up and facef*ck them so badly the next turkey who comes selling truth thinks twice,” I’m down for the ride.
While issue #40 showed nothing inventive or interesting about the cult beyond being an excuse to draw blood and boobs, Remender and Craig tone down the extremist fetishization and make them more of a threat. Granted, their black robed appearance is pretty generic. Yet, again, they say stuff like: “The muck of lust and betrayal have called forth Goroth the Forest Lord.” Any pretension that these nuts are some lame commentary on organized religion are gone, leaving one-liners and face-offs. And hey, it’s about time.
Although the cult’s tie to the main characters is a stretch, it allows our protagonists to finally act more instead of stewing in reactions. I’d love to elaborate more, but that’d be spoilers, so I’ll just say it’s great to have Marcus and Maria have some kind of confrontation after too many issues of weak “trouble in paradise” conflict. And Helmut is back and…well, more death metal-y than ever.
But now is the part of the show where I come out and sing Wes Craig’s praises. Despite the cavalcade of characters now crowding the pages, Craig efficiently breaks up the character and action beats with an ingenious mix of ultra-wide and many mini panels. There’s even a page where he and Remender crib from Alan Moore’s style of more cinematic, “real time” action (where we hold the same framing and composition across multiple panels and the characters move across them like a time lapse). Needless to say, Craig makes the devil’s in the details a damn good thing.
Here, the rubber meets the road. The arc overall has been a pacing nightmare and the character motivations/actions a patchy scramble. Granted, maybe I was just starved for some action after so much tedium. But no matter the reason, I was enthralled by Craig and Remender’s actionpalooza.