With Deadly Class becoming such a beloved cult classic, here are the top 10 comics that influenced writer Rick Remender (Black Science) to create the popular Image Comics title. Through his writing, Remember eloquently spoke for a generation of disillusioned teenagers who had been bullied by their peers and ostracized by society. These group of outsiders, who never belonged to any family beforehand, actually felt right at home with each other. With its mishmash of genres, Deadly Class had enough material to become a TV show. The coming-of-age tale, set within an underground and elite assassins school, kept its counterculture appeal as a live-action Syfy drama.
Created by Remender, Wes Craig (Gravediggers Union), Lee Loughridge (Fear Agent), Deadly Class follows a disenchanted Marcus Lopez as he becomes enrolled at Kings Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts. Worse than any other normal high school, the teachers at Kings Dominion train the next generation of students to become the world's deadliest assassins. Before they can reach the top of the class, each student has a target on their back as they walk across the school hallways. Marcus has to figure out who exactly wants him dead first before time runs out for him.
10 The X-Men
The superhero mutant team known as The X-Men are a distinct group of mismatched and conflicted outsiders. At times, they are unable to get along and work together as a team because of their clashing personalities. Led by Professor Charles Xavier, his students are trained to use their mutant powers at his School for Gifted Youngsters. Headmaster at the Kings Dominion, Master Lin is just like Prof. X because they are both the principals of their own school. The students are desperate for Lin's approval, just as Cyclops seeks validation from Xavier.
9 Batman: Year One
In writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One, a young Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon struggle in their early days with the corruption within Gotham City. Story-wise, Gordon represents the one good cop, who refuses to take bribes, in a room full of bad cops.
Marcus sees himself as the one good killer in a classroom full of wannabe murderers. Much like Marcus, Bruce is determined to make a change for the good in society. Marcus blames President Ronald Reagan for cutting funding to health facilities, which led to the death of his loving parents.
A former member of the Yakuza, Saya Kuroki is the female leader of the gang of Japanese students, called the Kuroki Syndicate, at her school. In the first issue, much like the pilot as well, Marcus suddenly finds himself crossing paths with Saya while being chased by the police. While riding on top of her speeding motorcycle, Saya removes her sword and rescues Marcus by slaughtering the police officers. Written and illustrated by Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira features high speed motorcycle chases as Shotaro Kaneda takes his futuristic bike on a wild ride.
7 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill put together the most recognizable characters in literature as a superhero team in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Interestingly, characters such as Mina Murray and Edward Hyde shake off their portrayals from the novels as they fully reveal who they are underneath.
Mina Murray has been ostracized by society because of the infected-looking bite mark on her neck by Dracula. The teens in Deadly Class are so much more than just bookworms and jocks. For example, Maria Salazer's flirtatious attitude hides the trauma from her abusive childhood.
6 American Flagg!
Writer/artist Howard Chaykin mixed the sci-fi genre with political satire in American Flagg!. In the chaotic future of 2031, the corporations that run the United States have fallen into disarray and have fled for the planet of Mars. As an out-of-work actor, Reuben Flagg now has to become a Plexus Ranger, after pretending to be one on TV. The political humor poked fun at Ronald Reagan, who used to be an actor before becoming the President of the United States. Set in the '80s, Deadly Class continues the political satire of Reagan's policies and pokes jabs at nationalism through Brandy Lynn of the Dixie Mob.
5 Flaming Carrot Comics
Created by cartoonist Bob Burden, Flaming Carrot Comics is a surreal parody of the superhero genre. For his costume, The Carrot wears a giant mask shaped like the root vegetable, with a flame that is always burning at the top. Without having any superpowers, the Carrot has managed to save Palookaville from a Communist takeover, an alien invasion, and flying dead dogs.
Both Deadly Class and Flaming Carrot Comics take satirical jabs at Reagan's foreign policy to wipe out Communism and end the Cold War. Russian student Viktor represents how President Reagan described the Soviet Union as a hostile and evil empire.
4 Love And Rockets
As self-publishers, the related Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez brothers put out the first issue of their alternative comic, Love And Rockets. Gilbert contributed the "Palomar" stories and Jaime supplied the narrative for "Hoppers 13." In the coming-of-age tale, "Hopper 13" followed a group of teenage Chicano characters as they become entranced by the California punk scene in the '80s. In his early days, Remender was inspired by the hardcore '80s punk music, such as The Descendants, in Arizona. The soundtrack for Deadly Class contains tracks by Youth Brigade, The Damned, and Sisters of Mercy.
3 Optic Nerve
From cartoonist Adrian Tomine, Optic Nerve featured Asian American characters cast in their own semi-autobiographical stories about relationships and insecurities. Remender had moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the late '90s, the setting for the Optic Nerve comics he read.
Reflecting the Bay Area scene at that time, Tomine had written personal stories and his characters were based on real-life people he knew. In the creation of Deadly Class, Remender was inspired by the nostalgia of his early childhood and reminisced about the people he grew up with in the 1980s.
2 The Dark Phoenix Saga
One of the funniest scenes from the Deadly Class pilot, which was co-written by Remender, comes straight out of the source material. During a car ride, Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth) and Willie Lewis (Luke Tennie) end up having an intense conversation about their favorite comic books. When Marcus starts making fun of The X-Men comics, Willie ends up taking out his gun. During the argument, Willie starts praising the works of Chris Claremont and John Byrne, specifically "The Dark Phoenix Saga," as he waves the gun at Marcus' face. Remender is telling the audience what his influences are through the dialogue.
1 Black Heart Billy
Remender would not have created Deadly Class if he had not experimented with Black Heart Billy first. Much of Remender's punkish humor in Deadly Class can be seen in his early work. In Black Heart Billy, Billy Black is a skater punk with a robot head. Billy has to save the world from an invasion of hippie zombies as evil Nazi scientists have brought back Hitler from the dead. Remender was telling a personal story about the punk music he loved and living in San Francisco. The lessons Remender learned from Black Heart Billy paved the way for him to put together Deadly Class.