©2022 Michael Raven
While I was showing my teenage daughter how to ride the express city bus between the suburban transit hub to downtown Minneapolis for a summer class she is taking for post-secondary credit, she had me stop by the Central Library so she could look for some manga for the series she is currently reading. While I waited, I stumbled upon the books that compiled story arcs four through nine of Deadly Class, a graphic novel series that ranks up there on my list with Monstress for series that are currently active that I enjoy.
So I picked those up and used that a justification to buy the first three volumes on Comixology. That leaves me with two volumes to snag from the digital library and a handful of issued published since the collected volumes were published to pick up before I subscribe to it.
One of my few big joys is getting monthly issues of Monstress, and I’m hoping I get the same thrill out of monthly issues of Deadly Class. [Edit: It turns out that the final issue is due to be released in September. With four issues remaining, is seems silly to subscribe.]
The series, in case you are completely unfamiliar with it (most people seem to be) takes place in the late 80s and is a bit of a soap opera about several kids in a private school training to be assassins. Some of them are there by choice and some are there because of a family legacy. And some, like one of the primary characters, Marcus, is there because he has no where else to go and an offer happened to fall into his lap.
Like any high school, there are drugs and sex and cliques. The students at King’s Dominion happen to learn the art of assassination.
I’m not going to bore you with a synopsis, but the main draw for me is that Marcus really falls into the group of freaks and losers: goths, metalheads, punks, skaters, and geeks. While I can’t relate to Marcus’ direct trials and tribulations… like I was, he has trouble even fitting into any of these groups and, also like me, he was phony-adverse and cynical. He listens to the Cure (and thinks Seventeen Seconds and Faith are two of the best Cure albums; mine was Pornography). And he has very good reasons for blaming his current situation on Ronald Reagan’s policies.
There’s a bit of a love triangle between Marcus and two of his classmates, Saya and Maria, both of which complicate his life (and are close friends to boot).
Aside from the ultraviolence and the extreme drug use, their stories seem very familiar to me, which is why I suppose I am hooked.
And when I read these kinds of books, one’s that grab me as much as Monstress, Deadly Class and Sandman have grabbed me, I really wish I was able to do illustrations. I have a few stories and concepts that I think would work out great as graphic novels. Perhaps they might work better as such. Or maybe not. But I wish my skill at drawing wasn’t quite so awful no matter how much I practice and try to make something look good. Because, you know, that’d be something, wouldn’t it? A graphic novel, even as a limited series or one-off.
Maybe some day I’ll figure out what other artistic talent is.