Deadly Class #33
Deadly Class #33, by Rick Remender, Wes Craig, and Jordan Boyd, contines the Love LIke Blood story. With the Yakuza attacking and personal grudges taking effect, can any of the students of King’s Dominion School for the Deadly Arts survive?
Saya, part of Marcus’s class of freshman, is being tortured by her brother, Kenji. He reveals why he sent their family’s Yakuza soldiers after Marcus and her friends and what his ultimate goals are, before showing her a grisly sight. In Mexico, Petra and Helmut decide they’re going to survive this attack and ride off, and that no one else is going to die. Marcus battles Viktor, their truce from last issue over, and Viktor gets the upper hand. Zenzele and Tosahwi hide from the Yakuza and Zenzele relates her origin to him. The Yakuza bring Brandy into the room they’re hiding in. Tosahwi thinks they should help her, but Zenzele wants to let her die for all the racist things Brandi has said to her.
After the artistic tour de force that was the last issue, this issue is sort of a let down. After being sold what looks like a climatic showdown between Marcus and Viktor, the scene that are presented are cool, but too short. It seems like Remender is trying to draw out this fight and that’s sort of understandable. This is a fight that has been brewing for as long as the book has been going on and it deserves a big moment, but this issue isn’t it. There are a lot of things going on in this story, so it makes sense that Remender wouldn’t devote the entire issue to it, but it’s one of those conflicts that the comic has been building to and if it’s going to be teased, it needs to be done right. That said, the art for those pages are pretty great. The fight is presented in long panels that cover the whole page, devoted to each of the hits Viktor and Marcus are taking. It’s powerful and effective, selling the ferocity of the fight. While it may have been cooler to have more of the issue devoted to the fight, it’s still very well done.
The rest of the issue jumps around a lot. It continues the breakneck pacing of the last issue, but that doesn’t really work for this one. There are too many quiet moments for this kind of pace. Pausing the action so Zenzele’s origin can be presented kills the whole thing dead. It’s an interesting origin, but where and how it’s presented, with her telling Tosahwi while they’re hiding from Yakuza goons, feel out of place and unrealistic. Deadly Class has always had a gritty realism to it and this scene just sort of sucks it out of it. The two people need to be quiet so the Yakuza don’t find them. For Zenzele to tell it in a situation like this is a strange storytelling choice. There are other ways it could have been done that would have made more sense, like a flashback sequence or some such.
The scenes between Saya and Kenji, which open the book, are perfect, outlining why Kenji hates his sister and why he’s gone to such lengths to discredit her and destroy her. It’s rather cut and dry--older, underachieving sibling hates younger, better sibling--but Kenji’s vitriol towards Saya makes sense once explained. Kenji using their Yakuza family’s resources to destroy Saya and her friends would seem like a bit much if it wasn’t presented so well.
Wes Craig and Jordan Boyd’s art isn’t as great as the last issue, but it’s still pretty great. The way the Viktor and Marcus fights pages are laid and presented are powerful, and the the way Zenzele’s origin is presented is well done. It looks like it’s done in watercolors, which fits a child’s recollection of a traumatic event. The last panel, with Zenzele decreeing that they should let Brandi die, is menacing and presents Zenzele’s malice towards Brandy and her glee at the thought of her death very well.
All in all, this issue is half great, half okay. The scenes between Kenji and Saya and Marcus and Viktor are well done, with the latter being less than what it should be but still really good. The other parts of the book are merely okay. Petra and Helmut’s pages sell Petra’s aversion to killing, but ends on a strange note and the presentation of Zenzele’s origin feels weird and out of place. The book also feels really short, which is another detriment. The last issue’s fast pace carries over to this issue and it doesn’t really work here. This isn’t a bad comic, but it’s not up to the book’s usual par.