Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Deadly Class V.1: Reagan Youth by Rick Remender & Wesley Craig

Marcus Lopez is going to assassinate the President of the United States.

That's the plan, at least. In the meantime, he's on the run from a home for wayward teenagers, has no money, no family and no friends. It's safe to say that Marcus has a lot of issues. Why is he on the run, you ask?  Let's just say it involves a lot of pent-up anger, a nail bomb and the aforementioned plan to off the commander in chief.

It's San Francisco, 1987, and Marcus has indirectly lost his parents to Ronald Reagan's cuts to national mental health funding. Consumed with a desire for revenge, Marcus lives under bridges, freeways and anywhere he can in order to hide from the authorities while he tries to figure out a way to make his assassination plan come to life.

Marcus' seemingly complete lack of empathy, razor-thin sanity and suicidal nature make him the ideal candidate for the "Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts" - an academy that trains the youth of 1987 to be the best assassins in the world. It's like if Saved By the Bell had an episode where they cut the brake lines to Mr. Belding's car. He's recruited to join the school while simultaneously about to commit suicide and while being chased by government officials - tough day.

Classes at "The School" range from learning how to properly behead someone to understanding the psychological framework of a killer. Things don't get truly interesting, though, until Marcus and a handful of his new friends sneak off of school grounds to go on a road trip.

As expected, things get way out of hand, substances are ingested, people get hurt and Marcus' past comes hurtling back to devour him. Visually, this graphic novel can be compared to Frank Miller's Sin City, it's clean and bold at the same time.

They have packed a lot of story into this volume, and its conclusion leaves us realizing that there is still a ton that needs to be told, and that's a great thing.

In "No Feelings," the Sex Pistols sing I look around your house, you got nothing to steal / I kick you in the brains when you get down to kneel.  I can't help but feel the aimlessness, melancholy and violence embodied in these lyrics screaming off of the pages in Deadly Class. Great stuff.

- Lucas

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