"Deadly Class #21" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Rick Remender
Illustrated by Wes Craig
Colored by Jordan Boyd
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on June 1st, 2016
Freshmen year can be pretty tough on new students, but it's especially tough on those attending Kings Dominion School for the Deadly Arts. The final exam consists of a hunt, as the student body is tasked with murdering those that have disobeyed the university's rules, dubbed “rats.” Unfortunately, Marcus is a rat and he's on the run for his life. He's managed to get off the school grounds and to a safe house, but that will only be safe for so long.
This issue of Deadly Class opens with a calm scene as Petra and Billy, two students also on the run with Marcus, share some stories from their pasts. Both are rather sad and show just how broken these kids were before attending a school for assassins. It's no wonder they're there. Each one has suffered horribly at the hands of their parents. It's not physical or sexual abuse; it's psychological. That can really mess up a kid.
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This is the only calm moment in Deadly Class. The rest is an adrenaline-filled ride as Marcus stares down the barrel of a gun and more and more people die. At this point in the series, we've been through so much with these characters. We've seen them when it seems they'd finally got their lives together and we've seen them tear it all apart. This is what makes this comic so heartwrenching.
Every time you think you're going to get a second to catch your breath, writer Rick Remender throws in another twist. There are at least three in this issue alone. These are segments where you're forced to do a double take to verify that what you just read was accurate. Did that really just happen? It totally did.
Wes Craig's artwork is second to none. He never disappoints and always delivers exciting images that flow through the page. There's a beautiful scene as Marcus is running down some stairs, bullets are flying above him as he's fleeing with tears streaming down his face. He's shown in white, superimposed over memories. His body moves freely between the panels, breaking through the gutters of the page. It mimics the staircase he's on until he gets to the bottom – both of the stairs and the page – and bursts through the exit.
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Those memories have this lighter shade to them. Colorist Jordan Boyd makes them look like old Polaroids in that manner. There are a few other scenes like that throughout the issue and they work very well.
Amidst all the twists and turns, there's one image in particular that stands out. It's absolutely shocking and it will hit you like a punch to the gut. When you read the issue, you'll know which one I'm talking about. I let out an audible gasp when I got to it. It is an incredible scene that speaks volumes.
Deadly Class is a white-knuckled read from start to finish. If you've been following this series from the beginning, there are tons of payoffs with this issue as it wraps up the fourth story line, “Die For Me.” It will fill you with questions as to where the book will go from here, enticing you to pick up every future chapter, while simultaneously ripping your heart out.