Join us on our quest for ALL THE COMICS!
Deadly Class #1 absolutely rocked me, and I was dead set against letting it. With that experience behind me, I was in a much more receptive place to begin my read through of issue two. A good thing, since most #2 issues in comics tend to slow down a world-build a bit after hooking you in with the first issue.
Pretty Dead #2 follows suit, and we see Marcus’s acceptance to Hogwa… I mean Kings Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts. His induction doesn’t go smoothly. The majority of other scholars are the children of famed killers while Marcus is a no-name with no prior training (well, except a mysterious fire). Like any high school, Marcus is surrounded by cliques, which are primarily based on ethnicity, giving the 1987 time-period a hint of authenticity.
Unlike 5 Weapons, another image comic that follows a boy through assassin school, there is nothing juvenile about Deadly Class. This is partially due to the exquisite story-telling, but also due to the focused design of the art, colors and lettering. When first entering the school, Rick Remender has Marcus finding a stabbed doll in his locker with the note “Child Killer” hanging off of the knife.
Wes Craig’s dark lines, and gentle pencils make sure that this scene can’t be mistaken for a funny prank. Marcus’s scarred visage gives away nothing but antipathy, and perhaps a thought or two about sticking the knife into real flesh. Lee Loughridge’s colors bring the scene together, muting the backrgound and showing us the school halls as a bland beige mess de-romanticizing any notions readers previously had about this school.
The art and colors are reminiscent of David Aja’s work with Hawkeye, with a more contrast and slightly more definition. The scenes in the dark are perhaps the most striking less for what is actually happening and more for the dazzling chiaroscuro of subtle shades of grays, blues, and greens against the night. The panels themselves play an important part of this book, clearly delineated by thick white borders and occasionally used as directional arrows – an interesting innovation. .
The careful design and layout of the book enhances an already fascinating story. Though this issue is full of explication the team delivers malevolent scenes and a few hokey tidbits to help readers through the conglomeration of speech bubbles that graces the first third of the issue.
As Remender points out in the back, both Deadly Class #1 and Deadly Class #2 have 29 full pages which is quite a bit more comic than the average reader might be used to. Remender and Craig mostly use these extra pages to their advantage, fully developing the school’s atmosphere while saving a few pages at the end to introduce a literal goat f*****g horror of a man as Marcus’ antagonist. I really don’t know who to feel sorry for, Marcus or the goat.
This is a rare comic where I can see the impact of nearly every single person on the creative team (I’m just going to assume the editor is doing his job), and the book is better for this merging of styles. I’m also convinced that they’re all sadistic deviants and I never want to meet them in person. Kidding…mostly. The dark tone of the book might be over-whelming for more sensitive souls, but reading this title may just be worth the sliver of madness each issue comes with.
While I would have to give this issue a 4.5 out of 5 for pacing issues (and the shower scene really grossed me out) the series overall has a standing ovation and 5/5 stars from me.