I guess there are people out there who had a great time at high school.
Who had lots of friends.
Who sailed through in a fog of only slightly angsty teenage moments.
I have met people who claim high school was the best time of their lives.
Only one or two mind.
The rest shudder at the mere mention of those thankfully long past years.
I wasn’t sure about Deadly Class as first.
Until I read the author’s note in the letters page at the back of the comic and I really saw what he was trying to do here.
This stirs up memories of how vicious kids can be.
Of bewilderment, confusion, hatred sparked through the hurt of non-acceptance.
But, and it’s the ‘but’ that makes this worth reading and recommending.
It also places the whole emotional rollercoaster in a fantasy world where a street kid with a black past can be saved from a tragic end by enrolment in an academy for assassins.
It’s the perfect balance of reality remembered and fictionalised therapy for high school survivors.
Rick Remender and his collaborators in this comic, Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge have chosen to set this in the 1980s of their own teenage years.
They made a conscious decision to set this in a recognisable world.
As Remender says,
“There’s no magic. No spaceships. No one can fly or shoot eye beams. It’s a coming of age story about broken kids expected to deal with a violent world. It’s the 80s. No cell phones or email. And many of these stories are based on true events.”
I read issue 1 and immediately bought issue 2 just to see where this was going to go.
The emotions of the writer, artist and colourist add a lot of spice to this fictional tale. It could have been a fantasy escape aimed at teens. Instead it’s a really rather gritty investigation for adults looking back at just how awful high school could be for a broken kid.
There’s no wish fulfilment here.
At least not so far.
But there is a whole host of great characters that I’m just dying to get to know.
A few secrets yet to be revealed.
And the beginning of a story arc that I get the feeling I’m going to stay the distance with.
And as ever with any comics I find myself drawn to, the artwork here is beautiful. The Day of the Dead parade is a fantastic concept for a chase scene. In fact all the action scenes come across as thrilling but contained within a somewhat believable world.
The colours are also great, really reflecting the bleak aspect of the surroundings but throwing in tiny flashes of that 80s fashion staple neon pink.
What’s not to love?