Deadly Class #37 // Review
Quan decides to make up for the past in Deadly Class #37, by writer Rick Remender, artist Was Craig, colorist Jordan Boyd, and letterer Rus Wooton. This issue focuses on Quan, Says, and her Yakuza brother Kenji and it's a tight little piece of action-packed storytelling.
Kanji celebrates his Yakuza clan's domination of the Tokyo underworld, humiliating Quan in the process. The tribe goes to a brothel Kenji rented for them while Kenji sends one of his men to kill his mother and frame his sister Saya for it. Quan can take him out and frees Saya, having arranged for the two of them to escape on a freighter back to America. Saya refuses to leave without her sword, and the two of them go to retrieve it. Saya, weak from weeks of abuse from her brother and his men, sends Quan to get the sword. Quan succeeds, and the two lead the Yakuza on a wild chase, finally escaping them. Quan comes clean about what happened in Mexico to Saya, and she gets her payback.
This issue is a near perfect piece of action-oriented storytelling, the kind of story this book so well. There's enough set up to give readers who may have forgotten some of the particulars of what happened with Saya, Kanji, and Quan caught up, then Remender shifts everything into high gear, scripting some great action scenes. The chase scene is pretty significant because it feels kinetic. It's short but effective in ways that chase scenes in comics rarely are.
Remender also captures Quan's desperation, both to survive and to get out of the situation he is. Quan has always been a bit of a weak character- he betrayed his friends in a desperate bid for survival and now serves Kanji even though he tortures him. Quan will do anything to survive, but his duplicitous nature means he'll go to any lengths. His desperation also manifests itself in that he will do what anyone whom he perceives as stronger than he says. Saya is at her lowest ebb, but Quan's inherent fear of her makes him risk his own life to get her sword back. This writing is great character work. It's subtle, but the reader will notice it.
Wes Craig's art is both a strength and a weakness here. Since starting his own book, The Gravediggers Union, his art has suffered a bit in some issues, and the beginning of this issue shows a lot of the weaknesses of his art. The line work isn't as crisp, and some of his faces aren't great. However, once the more action-packed sequences of the book hit, he shines like a diamond. Craig's action penciling has always been top notch, and this issue is no exception.
Deadly Class #37 exemplifies what makes this book so enjoyable, even if the art isn't as high as it used to be on every page. Remender can stuff much deft characterization into the book very subtly. Craig's art is a little rough in places but shines throughout the last two-thirds of the book. It's a shame that this isn't the Craig of the book's earlier days, but this one is a still a banger.