Silverwolf Suggests: Deadly Class (feat. Fenrir)

Today is the launch of the newest column on Moar Powah! Welcome to Silverwolf Suggests!

I’m my daily life, I’m constantly telling this friend or that to read a comic I think he or she would like, or hearing from a friend about how they wish they had the money to read comics. Thus, the idea for this column was born! Each month, I’ll suggest three comics to a fellow staff writer, and then he or she will pick one (which I will purchase for him or her if they want), and then read it before the two of us discuss it.

This month, Fenrir joins me to discuss Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth. I’ve reviewed the comic before, and felt that it would definitely appeal to her. But did she end up enjoying it?

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Silverwolf: Thanks for joining me today Fenrir. Let’s get right to it! Briefly describe Deadly Class: Vol 1 Reagan Youth in your own words.

Fenrir: Deadly Class is one the most interesting coming-of-age stories I’ve read this year, with a cast of disillusioned, jaded teens who are thrust into the dog-eat-dog world of a high school built for young assassins in-training. It is also one of the best colored comics I’ve read in a long while, with its riot of color and dynamic palettes and paneling that shapes the narrative—it’s a real feast for the eyes.

Silverwolf: Why did you pick this series from among those I recommended?

Fenrir: I admit, I’m part of that Harry Potter generation and I was raised on a healthy dose of animated X-Men… so I can’t help but love tropes about secret society schools of young and gifted students.

I was prepared, perhaps, for something along the lines of Potter, but instead, Rick Remender has crafted a beautifully subtle story that is hard to put down.

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Silverwolf: What was your favorite scene or issue? And why was it your favorite?

Fenrir: Hmm… This is tough, I actually have two scenes in mind, and they honestly build off of each other, so I’m going to go ahead and talk about two favorite scenes that sold this series for me. Both happen in issue #2 when our reluctant would-be killer, Marcus Lopez, enters the school for the first time.

Within the first few pages he delivers a stunning assessment of his new classmates, and delivers one of the most brilliant (and sad) truths about high school. He’s in a room full of killers, but they’re all still kids anxious about being “cool”, being “accepted” in the end; what they do is a preprogrammed front no different than any other high school.

The vicious pack mentality of high school cliques is only exacerbated by their license to kill, something that Marcus knows well and already guards himself against. It’s a well-written bit of narrative, which is only fleshed out beautifully by the art and angles that accompany it.

This first monologue about the nature of schooling comes full circle when Marcus retreats from the oppressive lunchroom to hang out with the other “losers” near the trashcans. It’s a fixture in a trope—loser kids or stoners hanging by the trash and away from the rest of the pack—and indeed, it would be like any other outsider movie, except, the misfit gang over here is talking about who they would like to kill.

It’s incredibly fun in its twist on the mundane; and it also in a way is another interesting proving point about Marcus. He’s our hero, he’s singled out as the new kid with wild rumors that everyone is baiting to see in action… but instead of following a typical hero arc, instead of wanting to “prove” himself he shrugs his shoulders.

He’s an outsider with an outsider arc that is never about the desperate urge to fit in that some stories about misfit kids fall into—and both of these scenes beautifully illustrate that.

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Silverwolf: Who was your favorite character? Why?

Fenrir: I’m going to have to go with our main character, Marcus. What is incredibly interesting about Marcus is the way he embodies the social anxieties about being in high school—which was fine for some people, but hell on earth for others. Marcus is of the latter variety of students, and it shows, in his monologues, in his over-thinking of events, in his own paranoia…

He is not the most likeable character out there and he doesn’t have a heroic arc that I think most people expect out of a bildungsroman. But he boils down what people are afraid to acknowledge—that is, the anxiety for acceptance—and in a philosophical way muses on the way violence works as a part of being accepted in the school. Acceptance is a theme that actually runs through this volume quite predominantly in every story, so watch out for that.

Silverwolf: Great! But of course everything can’t be perfect; what was your least favorite part? Why?

Fenrir: For all its artistry, for the beautiful paneling and the masterful color palettes, I could not stand this one section in Issue #6 when Marcus goes on an acid trip. It’s a section that I had to reread a couple of times to fully appreciate, once for story clarity, and another few times to admire the art, but it wasn’t exactly what I expected and I admit, not too fun to read when the art and the story were so… jarring.

Which I suppose was the point, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart on an eReader haha.

Silverwolf: Do you intend to continue reading the series? If not, why not?

Fenrir: Oh I do intend to continue to read this—while Marcus had time to develop, I felt his supporting cast of fellow misfit assassins just were not as present… I want to understand them a bit more, and I want to continue reading up on Marcus’ less than stellar high school experience.

Fanciful ideas of a school made just for young assassins aside, Deadly Class reads strongly as a personal memoir, and with its stunning glimpses into the anxieties of youth, definitely a unique coming-of-age story that deserves a read.

Now I have some questions for you.

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Silverwolf: Shoot.

Fenrir: Why did you pick up Deadly Class? And how far have you read of this series?

Silverwolf: I started reading Deadly Class because, about a year ago, Comixology had a giveaway of first issues for a few different comic series. After the first issue, I was hooked! The story and art are absolutely amazing, as you said, and I’ve loved it from the first installment.

I’ve currently read up to issue #9. The tenth issue is available, but I’ve just been so busy I haven’t had the time to read it yet! Still, once I get more free time the first thing I’ll do is read it!
Fenrir: How does history play into the story? Does profound knowledge of 80s pop culture/Reagan era politics matter for new readers?
Silverwolf: Knowledge of history is definitely something that can help you enjoy the story, but isn’t at all a requirement. Remender has stated in interviews that Marcus is partly based on a Nicaraguan friend he had as a teenager, and some tumultuous events in that region motivate why Marcus’s family came to America, and why he hates Reagan.

Pop culture knowledge is also definitely a plus, as there are a lot of Easter Eggs thrown into the story, from clothing, to posters, to even comic books on a shelf in one scene. Still, not knowing these things won’t hurt an unfamiliar reader, but may inspire him or her to learn more. If nothing else, this comic is certainly a love letter to Remender’s 80s adolescence.
Fenrir: What do you think about the characters? Everyone’s high school experience is definitely different, but was there any one–or any line–that struck you?
Silverwolf: I really like the characters, and feel they very accurately portray the real social scene of a high school (with the added twist that they’re all assassins, of course).

My favorite character is actually Shabnam, who gets some really good scenes in issues #7 and 8. I relate a lot to him, because an experience he has, and a line he says in reference to it, absolutely parallel my own high school memories. In fact, I wrote a letter to Rick Remender saying as much (maybe it will appear in a future letters column of the comic?). I don’t want to repeat the line for fear of spoiling things, but within the first 6 issues I latched onto Marcus, mainly for the same reasons you did.
Anyway, that’s all the time we have for this month! Thanks Fenrir for broadening your horizons; I’m glad you liked the suggestion! Join me again next month when another writer and I tackle another comic!
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Silverwolf

Moar Powah's very own Clark Kent.

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