Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Deadly Class, Volume 3: The Snake Pit Review (Rick Remender, Wes Craig)

The Snake Pit picks up where the last scene from Kids of the Black Hole ended: Marcus and co. have successfully raided Fuckface’s stronghold but are faced with a new threat: Mexican gangsters – the same evil muthas who killed Maria’s family! Things go from bad to worse as one of Marcus’ friends is killed and, as a result of the raid, another is taken out too in King’s Dominion no less! The guilt, along with an increasingly messed up love life, sends Marcus into a tailspin of depression and paranoia exacerbated by his growing drug use as he becomes a one-man island of emo moping! 

The third volume of Deadly Class is definitely the least interesting in the series so far. It does start really well though as Maria gets her blood-soaked revenge on Chico’s father, El Alma del Diablo. The sequence has grenades and motorbikes, bladed fans and gas heels, and fire, fire fiiiire - brilliant! Rick Remender shows us he’s not afraid to kill off main characters either which definitely adds an element of delicious uncertainty and tension to the narrative. 

Unfortunately Remender can’t keep up the pace after the explosive start and things slow down to a crawl as Marcus burns bridges with his surviving friends and gives himself over to druggy oblivion. What follows isn’t a very insightful portrayal of depression as Marcus (and the plot) becomes more or less static for a lot of the book. Maybe that’s realistic of the illness but it’s also not very interesting to read. 

The introspection could have been compelling and thoughtful except his constant inner monologue is rendered tedious with his drug-fuelled paranoia as he goes over and over the same half-baked gibberish ad nauseam without it going anywhere. 

There’s a two-page ‘shrooms sequence that’s kinda fun (starring Ronnie Reagan as a chibi astronaut with a machine gun!) but it’s not as imaginative or epic as the Vegas one from the first book. 

Remender seems to think Marcus drunkenly sleeping with a fat girl at a party is enough “plot” for this book! There’s too much boring teen relationship drama, it’s like a less kiddie-friendly version of Sweet Valley High! Marcus loves Maria, Marcus loves Saya, etc. Eh, that part of Deadly Class was always the least interesting to me. 

Another student tries to blackmail Marcus which is so stupid. It’s a school for assassins, dumbass – you put one of them against the wall with nowhere to turn, what d’you think they’re going to do? Also, even if Marcus is strung out, how – when he’s an ASSASSIN-IN-TRAINING – does he bungle a point blank shot to the head?! He should be expelled for screwing up something meth-ed up gangbangers could pull off with their eyes shut! 

Wes Craig’s art is still tremendous, Lee Loughridge’s colours are awesome, and I’m still interested in the series – a story finally rears its head in the final two pages of the book so the next volume looks to be great fun – but, for me, Deadly Class, Volume 3: The Snake Pit is a disappointingly average entry for an otherwise quality title.

Deadly Class, Volume 3: The Snake Pit

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