Review by Frank Plowright
Spoilers in review
A second deluxe hardcover visit to the perverse high school of Deadly Class tails off a little toward the end, but as it’s such a superior horror action drama it still provides a more satisfying experience than all but the very best of its contemporaries.
Volume one ended with the terrifying revelation of why it is that the first year class is double the size of any higher classes. Students are expected to put what they’ve learned into practice by weeding out the weaker and more compassionate among them, and the opening sequence is a horrific culling. Will the characters we’ve followed and learned to love progress at the cost of murdering their friends? Others surprsingly come into their own, the unpopular Shabnam revealing what he’s been up to all year.
Rick Remender sets a hell of a pace over the opening chapters, barely offering readers the opportunity to catch their breath and supplying one fine shock chapter ending after another. When the first sequence concludes, you’ll be left wondering what’s happened, as Remender provides no answers for some while, instead switching focus to the school’s new first year intake and exploring their personalities. Any initial disappointment about that is rapidly overcome by their being a diverse and interesting bunch, some with existing rivalries with pupils already attending the school. Their lives gradually entwine with the people we became familiar with over the first volume, at least those still around,
Deadly Class wouldn’t work as well without the phenomenal art of Wes Craig, and even after the four hundred pages of it in Noise, Noise, Noise, he manages to surprise with a well conceived fantasy sequence. Given the pace of the plot and the themes it employs, any artist unable to have the cast move convincingly would drag the series down. Craig is better at this than many established artists with high reputations, his effective looseness conveying running, or gymnastics exceptionally well. There really is so much to admire about the art. Associated is how Craig manages to pack his panels without them ever looking crowded, and the work ethic leading to so many panels per page. Also good is the way he distinguishes the cast. They’re meant to be of different nationalities (well characterised via different speech patterns in English), and Craig brings this out.
There are minor irritations to Deadly Class, primarily Remender’s lectures on some topics via his characters transcending the observations and terms even gifted eleven and twelve year olds would employ. A discussion about music toward the end is a particularly out of control example. Suck it back. Deadly Class is so unpredictable, thrilling so much, that if the price is the occasional page of lecturing, we can put up with it.
If you’re on a budget but want to read Deadly Class anyway, the paperbacks reprinted here are Die For Me, Carousel, and This is not the End.