Reagan Youth

©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.

10 thoughts on “Reagan Youth

  1. I love Sandman, of course, but I am apeshit for Deadly Class. I can’t wait to see how this ends. One of my all-time favorite comic series ever. Brilliant satire of our times for much of the ride, though ultraviolent, as you say.

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  2. I nearly pissed myself (pun intended) howling at Marcus’ follies working in the comic shop. I worked in a comic shop in the 90s and really jived with it, other than showing up stoned and soiling myself, LMAO. As a punk and metal journalist, I always toss Rick Remender salutes for Marcus’ sardonic views on music, scenesters, all that elitism stuff that’s so spot-on. Helmut is far more metal than any other pop culture attempts I’ve seen out there, i.e. the Netflix shows, and it slays me how deep and “black metal” he goes, albeit…the subtle message in these winding events is that it’s all an unconscious pose once everyone surviving gets real, even if they can’t “get out” of their assassin brand lifestyle. Saya is a special lady who goes through her own brand of hell as the story evolves. Not sure how far you’ve gotten, but the Saya/Maria love interest conflict goes to an entirely unexpected place and I’m dying to see how it concludes and with whom.

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    1. I was gonna peg you as a proto-Helmut archetype. 😀

      He definitely captures the scene nearly perfectly from my perspective as a Marcus/Petra/Saya derivative myself (so my perception might be flawed).

      I’m interested in that triangle too. I’m up to the point where Helmut “returns to the school” after an absence and Marcus has decided to go straight edge, so I know there is trouble brewing on the Maria front. I’ll admit Saya’s actions prior to Helmut’s return kind of surprised me; I didn’t peg her for that lifestyle. I might try to justify picking up volumes 10 and 11 tonight so I can get caught up for the final four issues.

      “Soiling” is a bit of an understatement, don’t you think? LOL. I laugh, but there is always a fear that you might have a similar chain reaction when you decide to be a smart-ass with someone along those lines.

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  3. LOL, I was never wholly agro like Helmut, and though I took 3 years of weightlifting in high school and continue to work out today, he’d probably tear me to shreds if he was real. Good call, though, LMAO!

    I support monthly titles the majority of the time, but DC, I did the trade paperback route. Just like I did “The Woods,” “The Immortal Hulk,” “Captain Marvel,” “Sam Wilson: Captain America,” “The Boys” and “Kill or Be Killed.” I have way too many trades, but nothing like my boxes of singles. I had to sell half my collection of singles a couple months ago when moving in with my fiancee. She understands my love of comics and she’ll read some of them with me like Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Star Wars, but we had to downsize considerably to pack into our new place and still breathe. Trades are where it’s at when you want a compact, quick fix.

    So I know exactly where you’re at, lol, and you’re in for a hell of a ride if you keep on with the series. I did snicker at Marcus’ straight edge period. I went through a brief anti-alcohol crusade because my dad was a a bad alcoholic for much of his life, but later on, I grew to imbibe (alcohol only) and keep in moderation. I think Marcus is a prime example of trying not to pose, but being a complete poser unconsciously. It’s one of the underlying statements to Deadly Class. Teenagers are almost ALWAYS bound to pose at some point, if not much of the 4 years in high school until they’re thrust into the real world and they have to wake up. Most of DCs characters pose in some fashion or another; it just so happens they’re trained murderers. The blonde girl Marcus had a fling with on the road, she was the biggest poser in the world, yet innocuously so, as much as someone looking to walk on the wild side can be.

    I liked Petra a lot. She could’ve been the Goth girl I wanted instead of the one I got, smh… Petra was a headcase, she had exemplary pussy control until she wanted it with her punker glommers.

    Nothing like a chain reaction when someone starts the fart game, since someone’s bound to shart along the way!

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    1. Just got completely caught up. Dayum. I have a strong guess as to what happens next — Marcus isn’t allowed to have things go good for him and I suspect it’s about to go very very sideways. F’in Shab.


    1. It’s much more visceral and violent, but I think it’s some damn good storytelling. Or, I’m just stuck in the eighties and geeking out on the past. Hope you like it. Check out Image comics to see if they have a free first issue to see if it’s up your alley.

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