Written by Adrian Care
You know the Russo brothers. The brothers whose work in film went from taking over the Captain America franchise with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, to taking over the MCU outright with the superbly-executed Avengers: Infinity War. Those Russo brothers.
Now, you know Remender too. At Image Comics, he’s also given us Fear Agent and Black Science. At Marvel, a hugely popular run on Uncanny X-Force led to the launch of flagship Uncanny Avengers. He’s also had more than notable runs on Captain America, Secret Avengers, Venom, and The Punisher.
Wes Craig has lent his distinct artistic style to The Gravediggers Union, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and some Batman and Superman hidden gems.
But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, right?
So why am I gushing over the work of these gents?
It’s because, if you’re paying attention, you’re about to have a front row seat to the next big thing. Deadly Class will be huge, popularity-wise. I’m talking maybe even The Walking Dead huge.
In an age where major comic book movies edge close to earning a billion dollars regularly, The Walking Dead remains as a monumental example of a comic book that crossed over into an even more successful TV series. Into the gaming world. Into merchandising. Clothes. Figures. Everything right down to the amazing pinball releases.
Deadly Class will be for Remender and Craig what TWD was/is for Robert Kirkman. It has everything going for it.
The self-contained universe, for starters, that is ripe for growth (a la Fear the Walking Dead).
Material that can carry over directly from the page. Nothing since Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller brought us Sin City is so readily translatable from panel to storyboard to screen.
Kings Dominion has the potential to succeed in the way Hogwarts became synonymous for training young wizards. While the pop culture world waits in anticipation for the talked about John Wick spin-off series about The Continental, SyFy is about to beat them to it by bringing Deadly Class’s secret society high school for assassins to life.
If you thought people are going crazy for what Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has done with Riverdale and Sabrina, putting a subversive Twin Peaks spin on Archie Comics characters, then get ready for this. Deadly Class can dive deep into those same waters with abandon. Since season one, Riverdale has borrowed liberally from popular trends and tried and true movie tropes, fusing them into the once wholesome, pre-existing Archie-verse. Deadly Class’ stories have maintained that same spirit but executed with more originality for almost 40 issues (or 7 collected volumes). It’s riot at Riverdale, 90210 with guns and ammo. Gossip Girl with grime, grit, and guts.
Its pages contain diversity without ever feeling like it’s ticking off boxes or doing diversity for diversity’s sake. Every subculture is fairly represented and, rather than lean into stereotypes, it explores them. It uses them to get into the psychology of the characters and the dangerous worlds they navigate.
You read a lot about people’s affinity for Chris Claremont’s X-men and the influence it had on its readership. Deadly Class has a strikingly similar, intangible feeling.
People will eventually tire of the zombie aspect of The Walking Dead, but teen melodrama and well-written tales about the criminal underbelly seem to consistently have flag bearers in the eyes of pop culture.
Maybe the blockbuster trend in movies does bring in new audiences to the comic book medium. But if enough people can find their way to a copy of a Deadly Cass trade or issue, they’ll find a property with the franchise potential of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, the Twilight saga. Who says the next big thing in young-adult fiction can’t put the word “graphic” before “novel”?
The comic book bubble isn’t in danger of over-saturation, or fatigue, or bursting at all. The audience is just waiting for that special material that can transcend the casual fan’s apprehensions about superheroes that still lingers. That can make the comic snob hold hands with the bandwagoners over material that truly has something for everyone.
When was the last time something came along and captured so much of the zeitgeist all at once? With such style? That worked so well?
Deadly Class is a property with crossover appeal and then some.
If you don’t believe, me read what Rick Remender and Wes Craig have created.
Believe what the Russo Brothers clearly know what they’re doing.
Deadly Class is the next big thing.
I’ll be back in a few months to say I told you so.
Deadly Class debuts on SyFy on Wednesday, January 16th at 10/9c. You can watch the pilot episode here!
Deadly Class issue #1 comes to life in this animated version of the comic featuring the voice talents from the show. Lana Condor as Saya, Benjamin Wadsworth as Marcus, Benedict Wong as Master Lin, Luke Tennie as Willie, and María De Faría as Maria. Catch new episodes of Deadly Class Wednesdays at 10/9c on SYFY. Deadly Class premieres January 16 at 10/9c on SYFY.