It would seem that as a series, we may have accidentally misjudged Deadly Class, based on the first two issues. With only those for context, it would indeed seem that the usually fantastic Rick Remender has switched to auto-pilot, pumping out a ‘Chosen One’ narrative with only the vaguest of twists in the archetypes.
But we missed out, because it really hits its stride with issue #3, and doesn’t stop for breath until the final scene of this latest issue. In the space of 70-or-so pages, Remender has completely subverted any expectations we might’ve had regarding the series. Our anti-hero – and Marcus is nothing if not that – is not competent, not by any stretch of the imagination: a bundle of sorrow, rage and knee-jerk reactions, drifting through a horrid life, who’s found himself in an even more unfathomable situation, and is literally just trying to get by. By doing a shit-load of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.
Craig does something rather wonderful with the art, recalling Steve Yeowill’s work in the first few issues of The Invisibles, and even the Wachowskis’ directorial style as he toys with perspective, connectivity, shape and being generally trippy as balls. A massive shout out must also go to the colourist Lee Loughridge, managing to emphasise the glaring highs and abysmal lows with neat little flourishes. The two’s penchant for negative space is a little off-putting at first, but as a complete work, it’s clear that they’re trying to represent the fragmented nature of memories from lives and events half-remembered, thanks to them being half-lived, and imbued with psychoactive substances.
Remender’s script is sublime, perfectly capturing a group of teens who’ve been forced to grow up too fast, and with more references to the pop culture of the ‘80s than you can shake a tree at. The dialogue is slick and snappy, subscribing to the Mark Millar and Kevin Smith school of poetic swearing that’ll frequently elicit a chuckle, or indeed flat-out have you laughing (I got some weird looks on the bus…), and the story cracks along at a pleasing pace.
What’s becoming clear is that this is Remender’s exploration of the disaffected youth of the ‘80s, filtered through the ostensible lens of an on-steroids coming-of-age story – and perhaps The Invisibles’ comparison is a little too apt, but if you enjoyed that, you’ll find a hell of a lot to like here.
It’s not quite essential stuff yet – it’s still not clear precisely where they’re going with it (though that is absolutely part of the fun) and quite where that is will decide whether or not it gains or loses a point on the score below when all is said and done. Remender does have an occasional habit of copping out on his bolder ideas (I’m looking at you, Strange Girl), but as it stands, this series is seriously picking up the pace, and is well worth checking out.
The writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24