Taking peyote in the desert after narrowly surviving an encounter with corrupt Mexican cops and the Yakuza is a great idea, right? That’s where Marcus finds himself as he enters a journey through the mind. Although he made it out of Kings Dominion, the school for assassins still haunts him. Will he ever be free of Master Lin and the horrifying things in his past?
Deadly Class #36 is a visual tour de force. Artist Wes Craig has never disappointed on this book, but this issue takes it to another level. He stretches the boundaries of the medium as Marcus digs into his very soul. The panel layouts are varied and intricate, bleeding into one another in this beautiful way. This is something you can really only do in comics and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Marcus’s peyote trip is a bit like A Christmas Carol, albeit the most twisted version of the popular holiday tale I’ve ever seen. He’s visited by friends and loved ones he’s lost along the way as he tries to figure out what he should do next. If he’s let these people down, why should he go further down this path? Writer Rick Remender adds such a personal touch to each one of these encounters, giving them extra weight as Marcus grapples with his failures.
Additionally, each character is represented in a different form. Letterer Rus Wooton introduces them with these subtle caption boxes. One of my favorites is Saya, described as “A torrent of chaos.” We don’t actually see her. Instead, she’s shown as a roiling lightning storm, disrupting the moment of peace in Marcus’ dream. Zenzele is shown as an angel and Helmut is depicted as the combination of every awesome metal album ever created.
Jordan Boyd’s colors complement all of this perfectly. They instantly convey the tone of a sequence and how emotionally harrowing it will be for Marcus. There are some where the background has been washed out in a sea of black, like he’s standing in an abyss and confronted by rows and rows of gigantic green snakes. Conversely, there’s a scene with Maria that, while taking place in a desolate city, is shaded in this quiet reddish orange shade, representing warmth and love. It’s the color of a pleasant memory.
While we’re three dozen issues into Deadly Class, this issue is easily accessible to anyone. It’s a terrific character study, digging deep into who Marcus is and where he’s coming from. You witness his tragic past through the lens of a fever dream. It ends with a life affirming statement as we head into this next story arc.
I could go on and on about all the amazing little details that make Deadly Class #36 great. Seriously, every page is chock full of incredible artwork and riveting character development. It’s only January and this is already one of my favorite single issues of the year. It’s so very impressive and represents a stellar accomplishment in storytelling. If you check out the Deadly Class TV show on SyFy and are even a little interested in the comic book, you are in for such a treat.