Simply put, Deadly Class is the type of exceptional and influential storytelling that the industry needs. Rick Remender, quietly lighting the 2014 comics world on fire, has crafted something instantly tangible. But beyond that, it’s a work that speaks to the disenfranchised youth within all of us. This reviewer wasn’t a teenager of the ’80s (and suspects many readers weren’t either), yet there’s a discernible effect that takes hold upon the conclusion of this first arc. Surprising, considering how understated the emotions that flow through Deadly Class can be. Hard to explain, but lovely to behold, this sixth issue represents the pinnacle of an already-spectacular run. The only crime here will be if it doesn’t have a spot on every “Best Of” and “New Series” list by the end of the year.
Beginning, to the exact second, at the point where the last issue left off, the series’s signature ultra-violence leaps off the page. At times both sophisticated and surreal, Marcus’s acid trip comes to a crashing halt at the hands of an enraged Chico. The fight scenes take up the majority of the issue and are vastly improved from the previous month. While the tension is high, there’s never a fear that our main hero is going to perish. Fair game for anyone else though. Marcus is broken, with the last remnants of his high taking shape through hallucinatory character revelations that both inform and push the plot forward. People connect with a down-on-his-luck character that never gives in, but Marcus is more than that. Issues and past transgressions aside, we root for him because of that dying innocence that hasn’t quite faded to black yet.
The punch-for-punch ferocity is, without a doubt, mesmerizing. This is a credit to both Craig and Loughridge, who bring each crunching bone and bloody knuckle to vivid life. When a member of the group gets brutally stabbed in the stomach, it’s wince-worthy. Classic teenage issues of infidelity and anger are explored using the Deadly Class method, aka Battle Royale. Kids killing kids, kids killing assassin kids. We finally see the true nature of a couple of them, but that seemed inevitable. Every bit of dialogue flows well, although it’s the two villains that get all the best lines. Other than important outbursts, the fight scene word bubbles are predominantly monologue fashion. One wrapped in finality, misunderstood but cruel, and the other absolutely terrifying. If the hillbilly horror is a feature in the future, Deadly Class will get even darker.
The final pages eschew the preceding format and wrap up multiple issues worth of content with a fantastic soliloquy. Passionate and oh so touching, it’ll make even the most hardened killer ponder existence and the inescapable qualms of humanity. Much of this is thanks to Remender’s brilliant writing, but it’s firmly implanted in our minds through Craig’s art. More straightforward than the drug-induced visionary artwork of issues three and four, every ending panel says a thousand words through a quick glance or a kiss on the cheek. If we’re giving out awards, one certainly goes to the person that got this creative team together. Each draws on the talent of another, and combined they’re a virtually unstoppable powerhouse. We can only hope that they stick around to see this possibly decades-long tale to completion.
“School is out for the summer.”
Indeed, Deadly Class reaches its greatest heights just as it takes a break between arcs. If issue #6 is any indication of what this series has planned in September and beyond, expect it to stick around in the back recesses of the mind as the heat rises and the “next big thing” makes its way into comic shops (including Remender’s own aquatic adventure Low). “Deadly Class #6” will hopefully be topped someday, but not for the time being. It can’t be said enough that the imaginative realism in these pages hits every high note. If you’re interested in seeing creators and narrative better than anything out there, this is the place to be. Perfect scores are only deserved on rare occasions, but this is a rare book. Buried deep in the consciousness of a remarkable period of time and essence, stories this good only come around a few times in a generation. Unmissable and Highly Recommended.
“Deadly Class #6” earns a 10/10