EMPIRE of the DEAD / DEADLY CLASS / DEAD BODY ROAD [Reviews]: …On Arrival
Oh my brother and sisters, allow your faithful Padre to testify. Pop open a can of whatever unholy brew gets you through the night, sit back, relax, and read my good — and quite deathly — words on this week’s gifts from the almighty comic book gods. Our theme this morning, quite obviously, is Death. But Death (and her sexy ass self) can be sorta kinda awesome to be around, especially when it comes to this week’s particular Fistful of Comics.
DEADLY CLASS #1
I have to start things off with both a thank you and an apology to the good Monsignor Moody. You see, I am an avid Rick Remender (Black Science, Fear Agent) fan, as is He, but I balked at reviewing this comic because I wasn’t feeling the premise and the preview didn’t grab me. After much cajoling on his part, I gave in and picked up the book. Having just read it, I can only guess at what in the blue fucking hell was wrong with me beforehand. It is rare that you find a single comic both this personal and this much fun. The passion is evident in the writing as the story unfolds. There is so much heart spread out among the intrigue in this debut issue that I feel perfectly comfortable declaring this the best thing Remender has ever written. He does a great job of making the book feel of 1987. The tempo, the bits of real world history referenced, and the sense of despair felt by youths growing up in the Yuppie controlled Me-Generation last days of the Cold War.
With contemplative, sharp, and realistic dialogue, the flow of the narrative gets us right into the mind and heart of our lead character. This is a debut that feels less like setup and more like a headfirst stage dive into a brand new, yet familiar world. There is action, a mystery, a mysterious school and skate crews, punk rock, and the Day of the Dead, ass kicking teen outcasts and a tragic death that puts the killing of the Waynes to shame. Wes Craig’s (Legends of the Dark Knight) artwork is superb. There is a mix of cartoon realism about it. There is real movement to his storytelling. There are some experimental panels that really enhance some of the deeper moments in the book and a kinetic energy to the action scenes that make them pop off the page.
Maybe my own experience of awkward alienation as a black metal head growing up and attending Catholic high school in Harlem at the time this story takes place.. is coloring my perspective. Maybe this book is just that fucking awesome that it really doesn’t matter.