Review: Deadly Class #1

Deadly Class #1

Image Comics – Deadly Class #1

Rick Remender is on a roll right now, with Black Science launched a couple months ago, he unloads his next creation: Deadly Arts.

Deadly Arts is a story based in 1987 San Francisco.  Issue #1 is the origin story of Marcus Lopez.  Like Bruce Wayne, Marcus tragically lost his parents as a young child.  But unlike Wayne, Marcus does not have the vast fortunes to live comfortably and to build a secret cave he would use to seek revenge.  We find Marcus homeless on the San Francisco streets, getting his shoe and backpack stolen from him as he sleeps.  He chases down the homeless thief and is about to beat him with a pipe.  Marcus then has pity on the old man and his sore-ridden feet.  He him gives his other shoe in trade for his pack, which contained his journal.  Marcus doesn’t seek revenge as Batman might have.  In fact we’ll find, Revenge seeks him.  Marcus is chased by some unknown armed authorities, yet is unknowingly aided by a covert group of young assassins.   Including Saya, a beautiful, tattooed, rebellious-looking, motorcycle riding girl who seems to have taken some interest in Marcus.  Eventually he is lead into the hands of the Master Teacher who recruits him into Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts.

Deadly Class’ beautiful minimalist art is not unlike that of Aja’s work in Hawkeye – mostly monochrome panels with pops of color which denote mood or emotion.  Some of the most beautiful and poignant panels are seen in the flashback/dream scene the moment his life changes when his parents are killed in what seems a freak accident.  Here, the use of washed-out dreamy black watercolor lines of a family walking are made brighter and happier with the accent red used in the balloon.  A few panels later, that same red is splashed in the background of a horrible life-altering moment.

The chase scene on the streets of the Mission during the Day of the Dead celebration is another juxtaposition of beauty, danger, and death.  Morbid skull faces fill the backgrounds while armed men chase Marcus.  Panels alternate between Marcus chasing the Saya, the dancing skull-faced woman and, the gunmen chasing Marcus.  The dynamics and layout of the panels shift as the chase ensues.  Panels shift from normal straight frames to angled frames as the chase gets faster on foot and angled even more later as Saya aids Marcus with her motorcycle.  The angles of the panels make the scenes seem faster and faster to a climactic ass-kicking.  I won’t spoil too much but let’s just say that Saya is completely baddass to the bone!

Issue #1 concludes with Marcus meeting the teacher and recruitment into Kings Dominion.  Now I will say that the final double-splash panel showing the Kings Dominion School was a little disappointing to me because it looked to me more like the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland than some hidden underground elite assassin training facility.  But hey, it must be hard to find a place like that in San Francisco so you get what you can get, am I right?

Like all great stories, the first issue Deadly Class ends with more questions than answers.  What is Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts and who hires their graduates?  Why were the armed men chasing Marcus?  Who is Saya?  Why was Marcus recruited and what qualities do they see in him that he doesn’t?  This book has me as intrigued as when I first read Morning Glories #1 and I can’t wait for the next issues to come.

Image Comics – Deadly Class #1 – Written by Rick Remender, Art by Wesley Craig (pencils), Lee Loughridge (color)

VERDICT:  Art 4.5/5 – Story 5/5 – Overall 5/5

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