Deadly Class #5 review
I’m going to be completely upfront with the audience before I go on to the review: this is my second favorite ongoing right now. It usurped Batman’s spot on that list but has yet to dethrone East of West from the top spot. The point being is that there is going to be a lot of gushing and bias coming through (although it should be stated that all criticism is inherently biased because it is ultimately the reviewer’s opinion of the work), but here’s another thing: Deadly Class deserves every bit of praise coming its way, simply for being a good goddamn comic, but also for standing out in a sea of starving artist-books coming from Image (No slight against Image, but not everything being published there is gold right now).
Part of what makes Deadly Class #5 so good is that it draws from the real life experiences of Rick Remender (just like the rest of the series) and hyper-exaggerates them by throwing teenage assassins and a school for them in the mix. Remender takes a high concept and covers it in pop culture and relationships, ultimately humanizing it to the point of where it can feel relatable and believable. Granted, no one can really relate to teenage assassins, but many of us can relate to wanting to get back at a parent, whether it be for petty or serious reasons. Marcus’ journey and the story of Billy wanting to get back at his father for not receiving love and attention as a child prove this to be true. We can all relate to the basest of human desires and needs, even if the context is totally out of place.
The artwork by Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge continues to capture the essence and core of these experiences while adding an acid-induced, psychedelic backdrop. This allows the art team to play around with a great range of ideas, and few things in this world feel this freeform. When a single panel of art can make someone (in this case, me) scream in glee, you know it’s good. Craig provides the templates and Loughridge works the psychedelic coloring magic, creating a haze of bad-trip vibes and out-of-this-world experience. Stuff like this should be considered the gold standard of comics art, losing the typical structure and just letting the artists play around with the stuff.
Deadly Class #5 feels like a nexus of pop culture from the 1980s, and this is once again due in part to Remender’s and Craig’s experiences growing up in that time period. In the back of this issue, Remender does talk about actually going to a Grateful Dead concert to pick up acid, then spending the night in Vegas, and finally getting jumped by gang members. It’s these powerful experiences, combined with near-hallucinogenic art worthy of the writings of Timothy Leary and the art of Ralph Steadman that makes this as good as it is. If you aren’t following Deadly Class right now, you are at a complete loss and should be ashamed of yourself. This is the title to read.
My Score: an unashamed 5/5