Even though it’s been several years since his trauma-filled days as a pretentious douchebag at King’s Dominion Atelier for the Deadly Arts, Marcus Lopez Arguello is still full of shit, literally and metaphorically in Deadly Class #45. The new arc of Rick Remender, Wes Craig, and Lee Loughridge’s teen assassin comic picks up in 1991, and you can be sure that Marcus has some unsolicited opinions about grunge music that ends up taking too much of the comic’s running time. However, he meets/grooms a girl named Dawn, who deconstructs his opinions and mansplaining and of course, they end up hooking up. I’m really ready for Marcus/the comic to be put out of its misery.
However, before talking about how insufferable Marcus is, and how I smile at his shitty existence reading Matt Groening comics in a bathroom and telling uninterested girls about the difference between geek and nerd, I have something positive to say about Deadly Class #45. And that’s even though the book has gone by the wayside by deciding to focus on its very unlikable protagonist instead of a diverse ensemble cast like in its previous arc, Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge bring their A-game on the visuals.
Craig’s cut-up panels and Loughridge’s red and black against insets of Marcus’ morning routine show up his fucked up mental state, and why he ends up getting an enema. One thing I’ve loved about Wes Craig’s art on Deadly Class is how he uses different inking styles to convey different moods like lush brush strokes for Marcus and Dawn kind of to the chaotic slinging of the issue’s climax where he becomes John Wick sponsored by Pitchfork.com. Loughridge’s palette gets dirtier during this scene going from flat background colors for Marcus’ new suburban digs to something with a little more edge as befitting a protagonist covered in a blood with an enema up his ass.
Despite Craig and Loughridge firing on all cylinders, Deadly Class #45 is a slog to get through because even after 45 issues of trials and tribulations, he’s really an insufferable character. I miss when he wanted to assassinate Ronald Reagan. Unlike most real life annoying nerds/hipsters, he’s definitely had a rough life, but his treatment of women and propensity for never shutting the hell up makes him a character that I don’t want to spend a lot of time around. In past issues of Deadly Class, Rick Remender got around this by surrounding him with an interesting ensemble cast of characters. However, no one except Dawn even rates a second glance in Deadly Class #45, and they’re all kids who want to party with his drugs, an annoying boss, or people who want him dead. When Marcus was “dead” for an arc, Remender and Wes Craig did an excellent job creating a new cast of King’s Dominion students to replace him as the series’ lead, and the book could really use some of that magic now.
Because there’s so much dialogue and overwrought narrative captions, Deadly Class #45 never gets to settle into Marcus’ emotional state during the time skip. Ennui isn’t really visually interesting, but Remender only works in long one-sided conversations, broad humor, and bold action. (The third one is fine.) He’s too busy catching up readers on Marcus’ opinions of different bands and driving the point home that he’s an outsider even though he likes Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man. Throughout Deadly Class, Remender and Craig have used bands and fashion as a kind of verbal and visual shorthand to introduce characters before really getting to know them via their choices, schemes, and how they interact with others. But Marcus is the protagonist so maybe we should have gone beyond that. His interactions with Dawn and general apathy has shown that he hasn’t grown much as a character and honestly regressed since the early days of Deadly Class.
Although Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge continue to bring the stylish visuals that drew me to Deadly Class way back in 2014, Deadly Class #45 is basically mansplaining the comic and squanders its new setting and status quo. It’s definitely not a good jumping on point and made me realize I’m only following the title because of sunk cost fallacy.
Story: Rick Remender Art: Wes Craig
Colors: Lee Loughridge Letters: Rus Wooton
Story: 5.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 5.8 Recommendation: Pass
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review