Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Wes Craig
Colourist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Rus Wooton
You know the problem with the calm after the storm? A gentle breeze rocks the trees but it doesn’t shake anything loose. You can’t sail on a windless sea and you can’t torture a metaphor without sounding a little pretentious, so I’ll stop now. Deadly Class has always been something that I’ve depended on to deliver the quirky, dark and funny crime drama that it promises, so imagine my surprise when it managed to bore me. It honestly seems like a series that was designed to appeal to me (this issue even quoted my favourite song – ‘I Want to Conquer the World’ by Bad Religion) but it just fell flat this time. The spark hasn’t totally gone out between us but I feel like I’ve just looked over and noticed that it’s Saturday night, we’re watching TV and haven’t said anything to each other for a few hours. We used to spend this time having sex so crazy that complaints were made to the RSPCA and taking drugs so experimental that we were in danger of developing super powers. What happened Deadly Class? When did we become my parents?
Disturbing parental imagery aside, issue #14 sees Marcus ruminate on the past few weeks: Maria is missing, Lex is dead and everything is just so damn angsty. I kid you not when I say he spends all of this issue moping around and complaining. It’s not just complaining though; it’s over-the-top, cliché riddled, teenage angst filled whinging of the highest order. Hang on a tick! Isn’t ruminating on all those things the teenage years brought us, including inevitable break ups, exactly what Deadly Class does well? Yes, yes it is. No one can hold a candle to Deadly Class when it comes to looking back on those formative years and exploring the complex minds of the hormonally imbalanced wrecks we all were. So what’s the problem? Well, it’s been done before. Deadly Class has explored the concept of relationships and friendships a lot better in the past. On top of this, the mopefest was always split between wacky crime action or unfolding mad situations. When moping is all there is, it starts to grate. The focus on Maria in the last few issues hasn’t helped either. Returning to the Gloomatron 9000 is all the more jarring when you think back to the more interesting characters that could be doing something other than making me eye the paracetamol bottle intently. I think at this point, Marcus’ tendency to take things to heart, not fit in and be emotionally and socially immature is well established. Where can you really take his character when we can easily predict his actions?
So the story is hanging around all flaccid and uninviting but what about the rigid flagpole to which the series is proudly flying from, what about the art? Since this series began there has been a continued evolution in its art style. It started out all rough around the edges and fully embodying a anarcho-punk style that fitted the narrative and has since retained that but at the same time continuously make improvements. The tonal style of colour is where it stands out, no need for extravagant pallets, instead it stands on a single tone that somehow always seems to fit the scene. This issue continued with that style but brought back a vibrancy and life to the dark and monochromatic style that has characterised previous issues. There is a lot of colour in this issue and yet it manages to not lose the background ambience created by the tonally adjusted colour scheme. Yes, that is the most pretentious thing I’ve ever written. Big whoop. Want to fight about it?
Overall a very mixed issue, the ranty plot just didn’t work for me but maybe you have to still be a teenager to like it. While reading through it, I could sense that somewhere, someone was nodding along with every laughably melodramatic line. On the other hand, I liked the pretty colours. I never thought I would say this but maybe I’m just too happy to like this kind of thing. I mean I haven’t spat on anyone for weeks and the last time I said something sarcastic it only made me feel 98% as big and clever as it usually does. Oh God, what if this continues? What if I get gradually nicer and less self-important? Before you know it, I won’t be telling you which comics to read! What will you do without me?