Deadly Class #34 // Review
Deadly Class #34, by Rick Remender, Wes Craig, Jordan Boyd, and Rus Wooton, presents the climactic showdown between Marcus and Viktor. Will Marcus be able to beat his hated rival or will Viktor finally kill Marcus?
Maria discovers the secret that Quan’s been keeping from his classmates. Racked with guilt over betraying his friends, he volunteers to lead the Yakuza away from everyone else. Brandi is able to escape death, only to be confronted by a berserk Zenzele. At school, Brandi and her racist friends tormented Zenzele and now that Zenzele has snapped, she’s trying to get her revenge. Though injured, Brandi gets the upper hand, but Tosahwi comes and evens the odds. Helmut and Petra pick them up as Brandi vows to hunt them all down before she dies. Viktor has the upper hand on Marcus until Maria shows up. She gives Marcus a gun and he immediately points at Viktor’s head. Marcus, concussed by the beating he’s took from Viktor, sees his dead friend Willie, who tries to talk him out of killing Viktor and stooping to his level. Viktor reveals what Petra did to earn her spot on the King’s Dominion Student Council before the rest of the Council ostracized her and it drives Marcus over the edge.
Deadly Class is the rare book that can pull off a multi-issue action bonanza, and still move its story forward. This entire story arc so far has been the kids battling for their lives while learning about each other and having things revealed to them. This could be a pacing nightmare, but Remender is able to pull it off with aplomb. He knows when to slow things down and when to speed things up, keeping readers on a roller-coaster ride. This installment has several such peaks and valleys and they keep readers glued to the page. Most of the things in this issue long-time readers already know, but seeing the effect the revelations have on the characters and how it affects their actions is icing on the cake here. It gives the whole affair a nice emotional heft that a story that has so far been heavily action oriented can sometimes lack.
Guilt drives a lot of the narrative in this issue. Quan’s guilt over betraying his friends to the Yakuza gives him the strength to lie to the Yakuza and lead them away from his fellow students. Quan has been a weaselly character since he’s been introduced, but the friendship of his peers has given him something that he doesn’t want to lose. He knows he can’t make up for his betrayal, but he’s willing to potentially sacrifice himself for them and that’s noble; it’s the first trace of honor that the character has shown so far. Along the same lines, Marcus’s survivor guilt has plagued him throughout the series and here it comes to a head. Marcus has survived so many situations that his friends haven’t and his confrontation with Viktor, a man responsible for the death of Marcus’s best friend at King’s Dominion, brings that all to the fore. At one point, he completely stops fighting Viktor and, if Maria didn’t show up, Viktor would have drowned him. When he finds out that Petra poisoned Billy, another of his friends, he snaps completely. Not only has another of his friends died, but he was killed by someone Marcus considered a friend and it shatters him and his view of the world even more. It’s scenes like this that make this a great comic.
Unfortunately, the art in this issue isn’t up to Wes Craig and Jordan Boyd’s usual level. Compared to the last two issues, the line work in this issue is weak. The character’s faces are especially disappointing this issue. Either there’s too much going on and they look muddled or there’s not enough detail when it’s needed. Boyd’s colors lack their usual vibrance. The action scenes aren’t as clear as they usually are. The art seems rushed in this one and for such a momentous issue, that’s a disappointment.
Deadly Class #34 is very well written, but the weak art hurts it a lot. A lot of important events happen in this chapter and the art detracts from the proceedings instead of adding to it. It’s a shame, because the art of the last two issues have been so good. Maybe Craig and Boyd overworked themselves to get these last three issues out so quickly, but this one would have benefitted from a little more time taken on the art. The script is so stellar and it deserves better art than this.