Thee Comic Column #70: Rick Remender & Wes Craig’s Deadly Class

image courtesy of imagecomics.com

Sometimes the experience of reading a book for the first time, just as it comes out, knowing nothing about it, is amazing. That’s a hard combination to achieve in the internet age, but luckily with SOOO many good books out there, not too mention everything peripheral to comics in life, it is often possible that something can exist on your radar and still you know nothing about it when you sit down to read it for the first time. Thus was the case with Rick Remender and Wes Craig‘s Deadly Class, the first issue of which was released by Image Comics this past Wednesday. I’d read a little bit about the book a few months ago, however the release of Remender’s Black Science three months earlier had pulled to the forefront of the hype machine in my head and Deadly Class kind of got remanded to that book’s wake. Well, Black Science is currently on issue three, and although I haven’t had a chance to write about it here yet I can tell you that it is fantastic. Issue three especially really began to burrow in on me, utilizing some flashbacks that added that rich character development that Mr. Remender is so damn good at. So with out from around the Black Science distraction Deadly Class arrived in my hands and I realized I’d all but forgotten about it. Excited, I brought the book home with the rest of my pull for the week and the moment I began reading it Deadly Class kicked the door open and stole my imagination straightaway. Here’s why.

Again with the character development. I don’t want to go into too many specifics and ruin others’ chances of having the experience I did but I’ll set it up a little bit. It’s 1987 and the character we’re introduced to in the first issue of Deadly Class is a homeless teenager on the streets of San Francisco. Traditionally in comics this might play one of two ways: schmaltzy or overly glamorous. Mr. Remender choses a third option and makes it rough and realistic. There’s a scene involving shoes I found particularly thought-provoking and moving and it got me thinking. The homeless are our modern phantoms, denizens of a world we choose very deliberately not to see. The things they deal with, the struggle of their every day is a very visceral thing. The creators have harnessed that, in a very powerful way. Herein lies some really rather potent storytelling fuel – this idea of the ‘invisible class’. What’s more, Wes Craig’s art and character designs, coupled with the very unique and effective color palette Lee Loughridge brings to the table – a color scheme that eschews mere functionality for tones that are very deliberate in it’s choices – sees this fuel ignite and fire from all cylinders right from the beginning of the book. When Deadly Class needs to be dirty and dreary it has all of the elements of its design working in that direction; when it needs to be horrific – as with our protagonist’s origin – it is frightfully so because horror permeates everything from the ideas to the art to the lettering. And when the action sequences kick in we really see things begin to move. Looking back over the book as I write this I realize I must also include the design and lettering of Russ Wooton, who maneuvers the text around the pages and panels in ways that push the flow of the story and emphasize the pacing of the various stages of the first issue’s action.

Deadly Class reminds me a lot of East of West and the aforementioned Black Science in that these are all books that are so well orchestrated, so thought out, that every single part of them advances the story in a way that feels more cinematic than I believe comics previously were capable of, even at their most cinematic. It is books like these that are the next evolution of the Comic Book, and with a crew of creators such as Mr. Remender has assembled on Deadly Class this book is going to kick some serious ass.

And all that said, the thing that one hundred percent MADE Deadly Class for me? I don’t want to give it away, but the issue’s final splash page caused me to exhale sharply and speak aloud the immortal words of comic book fanatics everywhere, “Fuck Yeah!”

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Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!

 

Wes Craig art and Lee Loughridge color Russ Wooton lettering and design and Sebastain Girner editor

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

One Response to Thee Comic Column #70: Rick Remender & Wes Craig’s Deadly Class
  1. Thomas H Williams

    Thomas H Williams Reply

    I was wondering if you were going to write about this. I picked up the first issue and thought it was a pretty fun read. Looking forward to see where it’s headed.

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