Among thousands of contemporary graphic novels filled with sparkling vampires and plastic Zombies, nowadays it is almost impossible to come across a genuinely edgy story that is deep as it is entertaining. Image Comic’s new drama-thriller series Deadly Class delivers all that and a lot more.
Set in a hyper-real 1987, in an uber gritty San Francisco, Deadly Class revolves around down-on–his-luck, homeless teenager, Marcus Lopez. Through various flashbacks it is revealed that he used to have a happy home life until a freak accident kills both of his parents and leaves him on the streets. With no relatives in America to take care of him Marcus spends his youth at terrible shelters and foster homes until he makes a run for it and ends up alone in the crime-ridden streets of San Francisco.
When he gets in trouble with the local police department – only to be saved by a young, mysterious, femme-fatale – Marcus unexpectedly finds himself recruited into a secret school for future Assassins. On the outside, Marcus’ new school is a typical one; there are mean kids, indifferent teachers, crushes and finals. However, in King’s Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts, the mean kids are the vicious children of world-famous crime bosses and the morning classes are about poisons and beheading.
From the get-go, it becomes obvious that the less-than-friendly student body wants him out of there as soon as possible. Against all odds, Marcus decides to stay in this unusual school and start on his education. Because Marcus is driven by a mission. A mission that he dedicated his whole life to; he swore to kill the man who is responsible for his family’s destruction: President Ronald Reagan.
While the story of the series is a bit out-there, it’s writer Rick Remender’s all-too-human characters and dark sense of humor that makes us care (a lot!) for a cast of roguish anti-heroes and the violent perils that literally wait them at every shadowy street corner.
More so, as a piece of visual art, Deadly Class looks spectacular. It’s pastel. It’s retro. It’s gut-wrenching and heart-breaking all at the same time. Artist Wes Craig and colorist Lee Loughridge’s idiosyncratic visuals and striking colors really pop-up from the page and stay with you long after you put this comic away.
Part Tarantino, part John Hughes, served with a side of succinct social criticism and sardonic black-comedy, Deadly Class promises to be an instant cult classic. Whether you are a Comic-geek or a highbrow intellectual; this is one class you would never want to cut!