I Fucking Love Deadly Class

I fucking love Deadly Class. There I said it! All out in the open, getting really raw with my emotions and controversial with my opinions on television media! Oh, wait, nope this is neither raw nor controversial… this is just gonna be my review of Season one of SyFy’s comic book converted to tv interpretation of Deadly Class a comic series by Wes Craig and Rick Remender!

The first way I always describe Deadly Class to people if I’m talking at them in person is I say, “ it’s like Hogwarts for murder, and a really angsty messed up Harry Potter as your protagonist” so like book 5 Harry but even angstier! Any whom, the show set in the late 1980s follows Marcus Lopez Arguello. A young boy stricken by a tragic life and left to fend for himself on the mean streets of San Francisco is picked up by a school of the dark arts of murder and crime known as Kings Dominion! I highly recommend the comics because they are amazing, the art style is punk yet clean and just really captures the kind of dirty and vile landscape of the story. The show does a lot of this right and has some shortcomings too, I highly recommend the show! If not because I think it’s a good show, but if I can convince more people to watch it, I’ll get more of it to be produced and broadcasted! Remember my dear reader I don’t do this for you, I do this for me. So let’s go over the cast’s portrayal of characters, the production quality and the transmedia critical conversation from one medium to another!

MARIA <3

I think the strongest thing about this show is casting, easily. Lana Condor has range and the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Actress is an absolute stunner as female lead Saya of the Kuroki Syndicate. She’s a bitch, she’s a sweetheart, she’s a punk, she’s a hero and she just shows all of this over the course of the season. I think her performance alongside actress and model Maria Gabriela De Faria who plays the other female lead Maria of the Soto Vatos is just very palpable chemistry and I really love every scene I find those two encountering each other. While we are on the subject, let’s talk Maria! In the comics, Maria is one of, if not my favorite character, and that remains true in the TV series due to Maria Gabriela De Faria’s fantastic performance. She encapsulates a lot of the tension and trauma that drives Maria while still being playful and fun and flirty! Just a very charming character and actress. TBH the women kind of steal the show especially when you get to the TV only character the strict and terrifying Madame Gao played by Olivia Cheng, and Siobhan Williams portrayal of recurring series antagonist Brandi of the Dixie Mob. I would be remiss if I didn’t speak about the boys, specifically Benjamin Wadsworth and his spot on portrayal of quasi-sociopath and always brooding Marcus Lopez Arguello, the male lead and series main character. I love Marcus and I think Wadsworth really nails his hero complexed chip on his shoulder edge. Also, the incomparable Benedict Wong is in this show portraying Kings Dominion’s headmaster, the mysterious and dark Master Lin. Just a great cast and so many I’d like to cover, I think if I could mention the unsung hero of the series it is the young man who portrays Chester Fuckface. If you’ve read the series you know fuckface to be a fantastic villain of the books. He is Marcus’ former roommate and bully, he has a lot of sick and twisted moments that actor Tom Stevens really brings to disturbing and unsettling life with some real panache. He also will make you root for him, he’s just so damn charming even through all the gory twisted scenes the viewer will find him in. I genuinely don’t think there is a bad cast member. I could write a gushing love letter about each portrayal and how spot on each of them is. I think your weakest performances come from Willy played by Luke Tennie, but I think this is less Luke’s fault and more a transfer of character from page to screen. I imagine season 2 if and when it is made will do a lot more right by him and give Tennie a chance to really shine. Now we have the players, where are they playing though?

1988 San Francisco, I find myself consuming a lot of 1980s set media, ( Heather’s, Stranger Things, Saved By The Bell I guess?) And I wonder what should happen if these shows aesthetics were used instead of what has been a dark and very cinematic world(not to say stranger things isn’t dark or cinematic but there is a difference). Best episodes cinematically, are the finale “Sink With California”, and episode 5 “Saudade”. I believe that this show having creator Rick Remender involved as much as he is is why it succeeds. His genius pairs up with The Russo Brothers, you know, the two dudes who made Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: End Game? Yeah, this combination leads to some fantastic imagery. I feel really concerned when I enter watching this show like I’m in a very dark world and the darker palette you see reflects the dark subject matter. The shots and the choices made I will return to in a moment because it has heavily to do with the transmedia topic I want to discuss. I think I shall instead discuss pacing and fight choreography. Because this show is violent and has some very fun staging and some both amazingly shot as well as performed fight scenes. Not to go into too much spoiler detail the best fight scenes are episode 4, and also the Finale, if I’m being honest all of the show’s greatest qualities comes to a culmination in the season finale. Every episode has at least 1 fight that leaves you going, “well shit, that was intense man”. What makes it all the more gripping though, is that they can come out of nowhere! Gal pals gossiping, a heated debate over comics, and casually flirting in this show can precede an intense moment with a gun cocked or a blade drawn! The show has this great charming effect of sliding in and out of it’s most gripping dark and intense moments and returning to this average familiar teenage ecosystem that feels like high school as usual and the common struggles of the teens learning to be cold-blooded killers are the same as any other teen. It’s awesome and fun and can catch you off guard, but it also leads to a nice sense of tension that keeps you wary of the show. I would though feel it overly biased to not mention that this can lead to the first couple episodes to feel a little clunky. It’s kind of like beer, at first beer tastes kinda gross and off-putting, but after you get drunk off it, you realize It’s a truly enjoyable experience. So it’s shot well, edited to reflect the dynamic shift between normal teenage problems and that of a young assassin, but does any of this really matter if it doesn’t capture the essence of its source material?

First off that’s a question that leads to a subjective answer, some people like the second or third iteration from the source material. The Harry Potter movies are often preferred by some (misguided) people, the Number of comic book movies that exist alone indicates that they are to some degree more popular and enjoyed than their source. For me personally, I think that an original piece of media is important because it is where the heart of the story lives, but that doesn’t mean it can’t spread to other forms. I for one love the new Power Rangers comics done by Boom Studios, I think it captures the heart of the original show and makes it better and more gripping. Deadly Class the show I think succeeds more in line with why the Marvel movies succeed. Moving pictures are just very entertaining and allow for easier consumption on a more mainstream level. TV shows are great for storytelling as they allow you to go into greater detail and bring out more complicated visuals. I would like to now take this moment to return to an early point I had made. Rick Remender is very involved with the creation of this show and it is very evident (just check his twitter). I often say how I just want a comic book shot for shot remade, and they honestly gave me a lot of that with Deadly Class. So many of the scenes seen in Season 1 are pulled directly from Volumes 1 and 2 of the comics. Now the show isn’t a 100% carbon copy of the books, and I’m glad it isn’t. If you transfer media you need to add or take away so much sometimes. The important part is doing something new and better sometimes now that you have a different platform with different limits and constraints. For instance, there is a season-long arc, and character arc that both do not happen whatsoever in the comics. These both are amazing, they add a lot to the story and set up for a much more interesting continuation of the story. Many characters are TV show only or are made more 3 dimensional because there is more time and space to flesh them out, looking at Lex, Chico, and Victor who are all 1-dimensional tough guys for most of the comics. They become fantastic characters in season 1 and that is definitely a testament to the writer’s skill as well as the young actors portraying them! Seriously the whole cast really are perfect representatives of their comic book counterparts, I talked about it before but seriously if you’ve read the books the show may not be perfect to you, but the casting really is. I think the best example of liberties taken is in the casting of a poisons professor Jurgen Denke who is a mentor figure in the show, casting Henry Rollins frontman of iconic west coast punk band Black Flag for the role, which is amazing because of how punk a move that is. The best moment of comic book replication is episode 5 “Suadade” amazing shot for shot recreation of a specific issue of Deadly Class. Truly I must say this show honors it’s source material and expands on it perfectly.

So in short, casting is amazing, just really great, so great that I need to mention one last person, and that is the young woman who portrays Petra another one of my favorites! Taylor Hickson is the actress who plays her and she’s great, deadpan, sweet, and charming. The scenes are built well although wrapping this all up I’d say the show takes a little to long establishing itself and seems a little too patched together at first. Episode 5 it hits its stride, while episodes 2-4 seem a little too cliche and themed? Yeah, that’s about right but trust me it’s all good fun to watch. As for those who enjoy Deadly Class the comic book? If you haven’t watched already, I don’t know what your deal is, but get on it right now. If you haven’t read the books you should go read them they are fantastic, but you don’t have to read the books to enjoy this charmingly violent romp set in the late 80s to the tune of west coast punk music. That’s it for me folks, I’m out, I’m cooked, I’m done, I’m waiting for them to announce what streaming service it will be on. Cuz prime wants a couple of bucks an episode and I’m not sharing it with people at that price point SyFy!

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