Apr 8, 2019

Deadly Class: The New Gold Standard in Comic Book TV

Deadly Class recently finished its first season on the Syfy network, and its one of the best television adaptations of a comic book ever created.  For my money, it’s the best ever.  It’s based on the Image Comics series created by writer Rick Remender and artist Wesley Craig (with letters by Rus Wooton, and colors by Lee Loughridge).

Deadly Class: The New Gold Standard in Comic Book TV
Ben Smith

The story doesn’t break any new ground, it’s a pretty obvious allegory for the feelings of danger and isolation all kids experience in high school.  Obvious doesn’t mean it’s not good however, and it quickly expands beyond that base concept by focusing on the adventures of the main characters.

The foundation of the story is an assassin training school called the Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts.  Inside, students learn from various different experts in the art of combat, poisons, stealth, and other such useful assassin skills.  Students are primarily enrolled based on legacy and/or their affiliations with powerful organizations from the outside world. Those organizations include the racist Dixie Mob, the Soto Vatos, the Final World Order, and the Kuroki Syndicate (among others).

Occasionally, students are enrolled for a variety of other reasons, like having a visible talent for murder.  But without any specific affiliation, school is much harder for them to endure.  They are referred to as rats by the other students, and spend most of their time hanging out with each other on the roof of the school.  (Another fairly obvious allegory for the kids that considered themselves outcasts in school.)

Our main character is Marcus, who is recruited into the school because of his reputation for setting his boy’s home on fire and killing everyone inside.  Marcus is plagued by a past of trauma and tragedy, spending his days on the streets after the death of both of his parents, and the aforementioned fire.

He is recruited to the school by Saya, the most talented assassin at the school, and the leader of the Kuroki Syndicate.

Willie and Marcus bond over a love of comic books early on, and develop a friendship.  Willie is the leader of the Final World Order, and the son of a highly respected Los Angeles gangster.  There’s a lot more to Willie than his tough exterior would suggest, however.

Maria is the girlfriend of Chico, who runs the Soto Vatos.  Chico is extremely deadly and mean, and the son of the most powerful boss in South America.  Unfortunately for him, Maria has taken a liking to Marcus, and flirts with him constantly.

Billy is another kid that would become one of Marcus’ best friends.  A mohawked punk rocker by appearance, but kind and funny by nature.

Brandy is the leader of the Dixie Mob, and is more of an antagonist than a part of the group. 
Other characters appearing in the first season of the TV show, but not the first trade paperback collection of the comic, are the goth girl Petra, and the Russian brute Viktor.  Petra hangs out with the rats, while Viktor is a frequent antagonist alongside Brandy.

Marcus, Billy, and Petra are the rats, but Saya, Maria, and Willie begin to hang out with them a lot more since Marcus arrived.

Maria and Saya are the two of the most talented assassins in the school, and are good friends.  However, their competitive friendship quickly evolves into a love triangle with Marcus, making the relationship between the two even more complicated.

Maria is trapped in a relationship with the controlling Chico, who is physically and mentally abusive.  She sees a way out in the form of Marcus, but despite that does appear to have a true attraction and interest in him.

From there, the class is given an assignment to find and kill a victim worthy of death.  An adventure to Las Vegas, involves some LSD and the murder of someone’s parent.  Wesley Craig is very adept at drawing psychedelic scenes as Marcus’ trips off an overdose of acid.

The comic series and the television show of Deadly Class are well worth your time.  I discovered the show first, and then went back to buy the comic.  The show is over, for now, but I look forward to reading more about these great characters in the comic series.  I highly recommend you try both. 

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