Rick Remender, Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge’s “Deadly Class” 7 is less flashy than some of their previous issues, which is not to say this book is quiet, but it’s certainly at a point where the book can breathe — but only a bit. There’s a wonderful ebb and flow to this issue as it seethes with danger both present and not yet realized.
Reeling from the traumatic (and drug induced) events of their road trip, the story jumps forward in time as Marcus and his friends are all trying very hard to pretend that everything is normal. Marcus and Maria’s relationship has been turned up to ten (in all ways good and bad) and everyone is just trying to get back to what passes for normal in a school for assassins. This probably counts as a quiet issue of “Deadly Class” — while there’s nothing inherently quiet about it, it’s also not an awesome surreal bloodbath. Remender does a great job of introducing (and further developing) some truly terrifying antagonists, which Craig magnifies a thousand fold in his devastating visuals.
Though this issue is strong overall, it does feel weigh down by exposition. “Deadly Class” has had, since its inception, a strong narrative voice through Marcus’ thoughts, but this issue tips too far in that direction — perhaps because of the unclear amount of time that’s passed since the events of the last issue, or perhaps just because the exposition feels like a crutch that’s not really needed given the density of plot.
Craig’s vision for this book continues to be absolutely hypnotic. He straddles the line magnificently between creating young kids, that look flawed and ungainly, sometimes even ugly, and contrasting them with more elegant superhero-like moments that are absolutely breathtaking in their beauty. At the same time, the antagonists being developed are fantastically striking in their execution — truly scary (as they would need to be since our protagonists are a bit scary themselves). The visual contrasts in this book are spellbinding — an almost-kiss, an almost-arrow to the head; the sadness of a kid left out, the sadness of that same kid undercover; the terror of realizing your girlfriend is a monster, the terror of realizing you love her anyway. It’s all wonderfully complex and nuanced, even though it feels gut-wrenchingly obvious. That’s the best thing about “Deadly Class” #7. There’s room for both obvious and nuance in every panel. Craig does fantastic work with his scenes, keeping them open and fluid, letting them break panel in interesting ways and cramming them with characters that hum with energy. Then, just moments later, the image goes quiet and still, his panels empty and silent, shadowed and important.
Lee Loughridge’s colors are a character. The palettes are simply saturated in color, striking an almost monochromatic aura in each scene, the scenes then slide effortlessly to a new emotion, a new vibe, a new world. The night scenes are stunning layers of cool — but dangerous — blues and greens, the scary antagonists bathe in a sickly yellow green, and a party pops with peaches and dull reds all too bright and exposed, full of energy.
“Deadly Class” #7 is an issue that continues to develop a concise identity, thanks to a clear vision by creators Rick Remender, Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge — and it is tremendous.