Deadly Class #44 Review

by Jay Hill on May 20, 2020

Written by: Rick Remender
Art by: Wes Craig
Colors by: Jordan Boyd
Lettered by: Rus Wooton
Published by: Image Comics

The students of Kings Dominion have once again found themselves in a violent fight for their lives. The sleepy, snowy log cabin getaway has turned into a frantic, fiery ambush and it looks like the end is near for many of the pupils. Meanwhile, Marcus has fell victim to a similar ambush at the hands of Helmut. Another issue of climatic catastrophe is promised in Deadly Class #44.

This has never been a happy book. Sure, it’s fun at times, an engrossing read, and is filled with some insane moments that are always a blast to see. But I don’t think anyone would ever choose the word “happy” to describe it. Bleak, dismal, and desperate seem like more appropriate adjectives for the situations the characters find themselves in. This issue, in particular, may be one of the most “bleak”, “dismal”, and “desperate” of the series’ run. The events of the last few issues have been a diversion from the “main” story we were following about Marcus and Maria’s return to KD. And, like the book has done many times in the past, a sudden and shocking event ramps up the stakes and begins a new challenge for the characters.

Given that this new event has just been introduced, and given how this issue ends, this is less of a tonal climax and more of a transition. The end of this issue has many cliffhangers and less definitive conclusions. So, to rate this on its implications to the ongoing story is difficult because there are a lot of moments that are left in a “Schrödinger's cat” state. “Is this person dead?” “Did this happen?” We don’t know if something has actually happened and, if so, the motivations behind it. But that being said, the events that do happen in this book, for the most part, feel true to how things in the series have transpired before.

One big moment is a long-running character presumably being killed. The way it happens and why it happens feels very cohesive with the series. Marcus makes a statement about killing for revenge in this issue, and the “revenge kill” has been a theme in the series before, so when this particular person seeks revenge by killing another character it resonates as a very thematically cohesive moment. Even though the character killed was one of my favorites, the moment is so well done, especially given the comments Marcus makes, because it not only is sad for the character who was killed but also for the character doing the killing. “It isn't going to make you feel better,” as Marcus said. 

The other events: The villain getting away, someone being left for dead, and another being carried away are the type of events that are hard to equate their importance since anything can happen in the future issues. The end is where we are left with the biggest mysterious implication. If Marcus did what we’re led to believe he did, does it make sense and where does he go from here? Leaving so many loose threads at the end of an arc could be a mistake, but with 40+ issues already finished, and the same creative team behind it, it’s easy to glean from previous events how things could shake out. There are also examples of moments like this happening before (ie. Saya giving Marcus the old in-out with her katana), so I still have faith that this is all going to end up in a place cohesive to the narrative. Even though I wish for once I could say we had an arc ending that was “happy”.

Deadly Class’ art is the epitome of “mood-enhancing”. For an ending that didn’t feel like an ending, the art helped that feeling. This issue was filled with moments between characters and less of an action-packed climax and the way the art was executed put emphasis on that. In Deadly Class, there has been a great history of big all-out climactic feeling events, but this ending didn’t do that. This issue felt less like the fight with the ninjas and more like Marcus and Viktor's beachside battle. Even with the legion of cult members, and Marcus/Helmut's confrontation, this never turned into a big battle issue. The way the panels were laid out highlighted the moments. There was one big shot of the KD kids fighting the death cult that felt like what we’ve seen before, but mostly the panels we’re small to focus on the transpiring events and big to emphasize one big moment or a character. The colors used kept each scene immersed in the mood it was going for and changed like a movie score to help the beats of the story. Those two things, the panels and the colors, were the most important aspects of this issue and made the read feel like a series of climatic transitions, maybe more than the writing.

This may be called “the end of the arc” but it is more of a pivot. With lots left up in the air and unfinished, there is much more to be said. The events are some of the most substantial of the series and may be a sign that a true end is near. With the serial unpredictability of this story though, it’s never safe to say anything seems certain, especially after an issue where almost nothing seems certain.

Our Score:


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