Marcus and Maria have returned to Kings Dominion. Much has changed since they left and were presumed dead. Now they’re back with a whole new set of obstacles. There are also quite a few new faces all looking to make a name for themselves. What better way to do that than by taking down the new top students?
Deadly Class #38 represents a tonal shift in the series. It works as a new jumping on point to an extent, but it also works as a new chapter in Marcus’ ever-changing and always-challenging journey. He is used to being the forgotten outcast and now he’s suddenly the popular kid. It’s a weird feeling that even translates to us as the readers. We can feel that unnatural quality and how Marcus struggles to make sense of it.
Even though this might feel a little strange, Marcus isn’t letting it get in his way. If anything, this is empowering him. Writer Rick Remender fills the character with the same great attitude that has come to define him and it works so very well with the new regime within the school. Marcus’ old roommate, Shab has been ruling with an iron fist and it’s about time someone takes him down a peg. There’s some choice dialogue exchanged where Marcus definitely comes out on top.
Another element that’s changed is how Marcus and Maria are together in this. When they were last in the school, they were apart and now they’re operating as a unit with a common goal. This completely alters the dynamic. They don’t have to constantly have their guard up. When they’re together, they can relax a little, which is such a valuable experience.
Artist Wes Craig can draw anything and make it look good. Deadly Class #38 is largely a setup issue, full of exposition as we prepare for the next phase of the series, yet the tension has never been higher. Craig keeps the artwork exciting and varied, with some dynamite layouts and images that appear to be moving on the page. He makes a simple conversation between two people feel like an emotional life-or-death standoff.
These discussions could have been somewhat stale or stiff, but not in Craig’s capable hands. He fills the pages with smaller panels focused on specific details and unique camera angles. This gives you a unique perspective on the entire conversation, often reframing a phrase to give it more weight.
Marcus is haunted by the deaths of his friends as he returns to Kings Dominion. These ghosts show up in an eerie fashion, like sketches of the people they once were. They appear in white lines to remind Marcus of everything he’s lost. There’s one segment where the background is full of these images, creating a suffocating atmosphere.
When Marcus returns to the graveyard to reminiscence, smoke billows around him creating a fog where these ghosts speak to him. Colorist Jordan Boyd casts a light haze on these panels, like we’re in the middle of a spooky story. These images are far less scary than reality when Shab and his henchmen come in to confront Marcus and Maria.
Marcus has a running internal narration throughout Deadly Class #38 as he walks the halls of Kings Dominion. He’s questioning how he ended up here and what he should do next. Letterer Rus Wooton adds a nice flow to this, moving through these deep thoughts at a brisk pace. They’re broken up such that they carry a lot of weight.
It’s pretty incredible to look back on the journey that Marcus and the other characters have gone through in Deadly Class. Everything has built up to this and the school is now a powder keg. I read Deadly Class #38 held between white knuckles, afraid to turn the page for what might explode at any moment. This is pitch perfect storytelling and we’re just scratching the surface.