Back in October, we covered the sneak preview of Deadly Class at NYCC 2018. I said that it was one of the best pilots I’ve seen. I stand by that statement. It’s so intriguing, that I’ll be covering every episode these next few months – including recaps and news about the show so that you can catch all your updates here.
All that said. Here are five reasons to follow along and watch Deadly Class.
The Comic Hits Hard
Deadly Class is the story about Marcus Lopez, an orphan and misanthrope wanted for murder, who is recruited into a high school for assassins. He wants revenge on the man he blames for his parents’ deaths – President Ronald Reagan.
To achieve this, Marcus must survive his day-to-day curriculum in the deadly arts – including lessons on combat, poisoning, and the art of murder. He does so while navigating through teenage adolescence, including how to deal with high school cliques divided by the world’s most dangerous families and agencies (think Colombian drug lords, Yakuza and the CIA).
Created by Rick Remender and Wes Craig for mature audiences. The comic hits hard with strong violence, drug use, and sexuality – all featuring rebellious teenage youth, set in the 1980’s.
Although the show can’t adapt everything because the comic is incredibly mature…
The Pilot is a Faithful Adaptation
TV takes its time delivering a story compared to comic books. But where it stands out, is that you have a nice blend of acting and camera motion – allowing much more time for things to develop, and stronger emotional attachments to the characters. The stakes being heavier when you fully get to know a person.
So while the pilot is less to the point than the comics, you’re also provided more background details and context – providing a very faithful adaptation.
A lot of which is thanks to creator Rick Remender himself, who is co-showrunning the series and serving as head writer. Having him translate the page to screen benefits the series. And though there are a few changes, they are mostly for the better.
For instance, after watching the first few episodes I’d noted that Marcus is much more likable in the TV series than he is in the comic, albeit a little more complaintive, and resistant to his situation in the academy. But this makes sense. He’s in a world where murder is the norm.
In contrast, the Marcus in the comic is more morally ambiguous. He is a tad trigger happy and quickly finds himself in murderous circumstances more often than should be expected. A consequence of pent up angst, a lack of freedom, and frustration misdirected. In the comic, he may possibly be a psychopath. More so by his cohorts than to the reader, yet still, over time… I’m not too sure where he morally stands.
The show’s version of Marcus is different in this regard. He struggles with doing the deed. This is a good thing. It makes him human and relatable. Remender’s decision, to start with his protagonist as grounded and normal as can be possible – especially, because he’s our point of view into this world.
Likewise, the most noticeable change is the pacing of the pilot is faster than the first trade. With everything conveniently packaged to execute multiple developing storylines at once. Establishing King’s Dominion and the nature of the academy in much better detail.
For instance, in the comics, we see Marcus’ struggle with homelessness spiral for months, leading to an inevitable point-of-no-return – suicide his only way out. In the pilot we brush over it, get to the point much faster, and even force Marcus out of hiding – all to introduce Saya and the supporting cast immediately. Giving a lot more time to showcase who they are and provide us a little backstory.
Still, all-in-all, Remender working on the series executes his vision quite clearly – which is a thin slice of what life was like growing up in the 1980’s… plus assassins.
It Embodies 1980’s Rebellious Youth
There’s this resurgence of 80’s nostalgia in pop culture. Stranger Things, This is Us, Glow, The Goldbergs and the list goes on…
Surprisingly, nobody has adopted a show about social rebels of the generation. The alienated punks, goths, and rebels – Generation X misfits unfit to have a voice.
So the creators made a comic book about it. The series, inspired by their own experiences as marginalized Gen-X kids. Many of the characters are based on actual people. The emotional tone and realism: resounding authenticity. Particularly, in its portrayal of punkish rebellious scenesters – a disenfranchised youth ready to stir the status quo.
Atop this, the cast is diverse, coming from different backgrounds representative of their own countercultural style.
You have Marcus, the loner, who is a fish out of water. He is part Nicaraguan, though is enough of a mutt where he doesn’t immediately fit in by race alone. Marcus tries to keep things to himself, with voice-over narratives and a better-than-thou demeanor. His cohorts both love and hate Marcus. More than anything, Marcus is disrespected – poked at, prodded and feared, all over of the alleged misdeeds of his past: committing a mass murder of a boy’s home. He is portrayed by Benjamin Wadsworth.
Then there’s Billy, the punk, and immediate ally to Marcus – quickly taking him under his wing as a fellow rat: outcasts of the school, unaffiliated with ties to any sort of mob, gang, or government agency. He is Caucasian, spunky, full of wit and dirty antics – but more than anything else, Billy is a good friend. He is played by Liam James, known for his roles in Jack Linden in the Netflix dramatic series The Killing and Young Shawn from the USA comedy Psych.
You have the popular kid, Willie. He is African American and leader of the F.W.O. – a sort of take on the N.W.A representing the gangs of South Central Los Angeles. He is dangerous and often appears stoic, with a big mouth and a bigger reputation of having a high kill count. Yet deep down, he is surprisingly heartwarming, and a lot more knowledgeable than he leads on. He is played by actor Luke Tennie in his first big role.
Then there’s the unstoppable Saya: the perfectionist. She is Japanese and is a deadly mix of good looks, brilliant brains, and killer reputation – with the skills to prove it. She’s the leader of the Kuroki Syndicate, a powerful and influential branch of the Yakuza. The perfect girl to Marcus in both the comics and tv show. Described as part valedictorian, part prom queen, and one-hundred-percent bitch. She is played by the lovely Lana Condor, star of the Netflix movie To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and X-Men: Apocalypse where she played Jubilee.
Finally, there’s Maria: the femme fatale. She’s Hispanic and a prominent member of Soto Vatos, a gang composed of drug cartel kids. She’s unnaturally charming, flirtatious, and cunning, with a unique look and even more unique style of fighting. She knows how to work a room in her favor. She’s also the reluctant girlfriend of Chico, the leader of Soto Vatos. She is portrayed by Maria Gabriela de Faria.
Now beyond the cast, the most noticeable 1980’s element is the soundtrack – songs handpicked by Rick Remender and the Russos in tone of the show. It’s authentically high school, fitting perfectly into the punk rock and skateboarder scene that Remender grew up in. Depeche Mode, Agent Orange, Killing Joke, and Descendents – bands for scenester kids of that era.
The Russo Brothers
The series is produced by the Russo Brothers. The hot ticket directors from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who’ve had a string of hits adapting comic book superheroes including Captain America: Winter Soldier and Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and the newest Avengers movie: Endgame. They’ve also worked on the Emmy award-winning series Arrested Development and Community, directing the pilots for both.
The brothers exude confidence in the series. Specifically, they mentioned that their goals were focused in on script consulting work and character work for Deadly Class. They leave most of the work in Rick Remender’s hands. Given that he’s the writer of the series.
Syfy Has an Amazing Track Record
We’ve entered an era of comic titles adapted beyond the well-known Marvel or DC Superheroes.
Outcast, Preacher, Riverdale, iZombie, Sex Criminals, Lucifer, The End of the F***ing World, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The Walking Dead, The Umbrella Academy, The Boys, The Tick, Wynona Earp, Van Helsing, and Happy!
And these are just a few of the titles that have become adapted for television. The last three, Wynona Earp, Helsing, and Happy: all adapted by SYFY.
In fact, between The Expanse, Channel Zero, The Magicians, Wynonna Earp, and Happy! SYFY has become downright binge-worthy for a lot of shows in their own regard. And if there’s anyone that has a proven track record adapting fiction to television, it’s SYFY.
In a surprising move, SYFY has already released Deadly Class’ pilot online to hype the show. You can watch it now, or wait for the premiere this Wednesday.
Deadly Class premieres January 16th at 10/9c on SYFY. You can also watch the pilot right now on SYFY.com
Deadly Class is a must watch for independent comic fans.