By: Sam M. Rees
Where do I begin? Deadly Class, to me, is everything a comic book should strive to achieve. The fusion of a semi-realistic art style with Rubber Hose physics, along with lovable, deeply thought-out characters, amazing writing, superb world building, and real issues amongst such a ludacris plot creates this beautifully mastered piece of art.
The little known Image Comics series (released in 2014) has quickly grown over the past four years, in only 33 issues, to be one of the best-selling comics in recent history. And there’s good reason for that. The dark and twisted themes that we all know too well of growing up, that are frequently glossed over in other media, are put under a microscope by Deadly Class, as we are forced to stare them down. Themes of depression, child abuse, past trauma, and isolation, scream from every single fiber of Deadly Class’ existence in a fearsome display of artistic integrity.
The story itself follows Marcus Lopez, a sixteen-year-old homeless orphan who is taken off the streets by a less than savory figure. Oh, did I forget to mention that this is set in 1980s San Francisco during the punk era and the “less than savory figure” is the head of a literally underground school, which teaches kids to kill people? Sorry about that.
Marcus is taken into Kings Dominion (Atelier of the Deadly Arts), a sort of twisted Hogwarts if you will, except the wands are guns and all the spells kill people. Through his time spent at Kings Dominion he experiences the typical high schooler problems; adversity, prejudice, liking The Smiths, all while mysteriously being at the top of the FBI’s most wanted list.
I won’t give too much away about the plot away but I will say this: Though I have spent the past few paragraphs kissing the ass of this comic (which I will never stop doing), I will take a second to be frank with you, dear reader, when I warn you that Deadly Class will hurt you. It will build a world for you and then sweep it away from under your feet, leaving you wondering “but what’s next?” And isn’t that exactly what all good art should do? A well-crafted story shouldn’t have to cater to its audience just to be good, and Deadly Class doesn’t. Just because a character is your favorite, doesn’t mean they are always gonna stick around (they gave a bunch of teenagers guns for christ sake, what were you expecting?!).
With its plot still going strong into its sixth book in the series, and a television adaption from The Russo Brothers (Directors of Infinity War) appearing on Syfy in 2019, Deadly Class has proven itself in the metaphorical prison yard of comic books as a series not to be fucked with.
It might just be because I have a burning love for the writing of the comic’s author Rick Remender, or how much I adore the art style of artist Wesley Craig, but I love Deadly Class to bits. And if you, like myself, have a passion for good storytelling, punk rock, mental health awareness, and fight scenes that kick ass, then Deadly Class is the comic for you, and I’m giving this series a 5/5.