Deadly Class is a SyFy original series based on the Image comic series from executive producer/co-showrunner/writer Rick Remender and artist Wesley Craig. Starring Benedict Wong, Benjamin Wadsworth, Lana Condor, María Gabriela de Faría, Luke Tennie, Liam James, Tom Stevens, Jack Gillett and Taylor Hickson – here is my review of season one.
Based on the graphic novel of the same name comes an unlikely coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of unsanitized 1980s counterculture. A homeless, disillusioned teen named Marcus is recruited into Kings Dominion, a secret academy for the Deadly Arts, where he struggles to find his place among a community of the deadliest characters in the world — literally fighting every day for survival. It is in this struggle he tries to find purpose and family in an unlikely group of outcast misfits who plan to use their skills to really change the world for the better… by breaking every rule there is.
Deadly Class is proof that a comic book adaptation can work if you just let the damn comic flow to the screen without too many drastic deviations. Writer Rick Remender, who created the Image comic series, wrote the damn series adaptation and served as showrunner alongside Miles Orion Feldsott in order to ensure the transition from page to smallscreen went as smooth as possible. It worked. Deadly Class season one captures roughly the first two volumes of the comic about a group of teenagers enlisted in an underground academy of assassin’s in training. There’s a class about poison (thanks for making Henry Fuckin Rollins the teacher by the way) and another one for learning how to fight etc – it’s like Harry Potter, but with murder and not really anything else like Harry Potter at all – but you’re going to hear that anytime there’s a “secret school” storyline these days. Deadly Class is more like OZ meets The Breakfast Club.
Benjamin Wadsworth plays our lead Marcus, a homeless kid who escaped a very dangerous boys home situation and finds himself adjusting to the Kings Dominion academy run by the amazing Benedict Wong (you’ll remember him from Doctor Strange, where he was very good – but he’s incredible here). The show (and comic) are set in the 80’s, but unlike other 80’s throwback shows like Stranger Things, the culture isn’t shoved down the audience’s throats. Also – the music is perfect. There’s a rendition of Mister Crowley from Ozzy in the season finale that almost made me jump off the damn couch and cheer. When you nail a soundtrack and Deadly Class most certainly does, it puts a smile on my face and automatically boosts my final review score in drastic fashion. The music choices here – were perfect.
Deadly Class is bonkers too. If you’re into strange shit like Happy, which must have set the tone for SyFy’s masterful comic adaptations, then Deadly Class is right up your alley as well. When your series has Brian Posehn in his underwear for 80% of the season, locked in a cage, dressed like an animal and telling people how the big bad villain (aptly named Fuck Face for good measure) is actively having sex with all the animals in the house — you know you’re in for something out of left field. Deadly Class is not normal television – because it strives to be as cinematic and wildly original as humanly possible. There’s an entire episode where Marcus is on an assassination roadtrip while high on acid – making for the coolest kill-tastic tribute to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas imaginable. There are mind-bending hallucination sequences ripped straight from the page, honoring the twisted work that artist Wesley Craig and colorist Lee Loughridge delivered years ago and likely never imagined they’d see this kind of stuff adapted in any other medium.
The action is brutal and well choreographed, plus the characters are all fascinating and have some of the best origin stories you’ll see all year (love the animated sequences on the series — more shows should take notes). I legit cared about most of these characters so much so, that by the blood-drenched finale, my stomach was in knots hoping that my favorites would make it out of this crazy shit alive. But – as comic fans know – that isn’t the case. Remender has thrown in some surprises here and there to change up the source material, but all the major story beats are there and they can be VICIOUS. Episodes 9 and 10 are some of the best couple hours of television you’ll ever see. The entire finale is an hour-long action sequence that puts most cinematic ventures to absolute shame. We can probably thank the Russo brothers (Avengers: Endgame) for that kind of scale as they co-produced this series and they know a thing or two about making BIG ASS movies.
There’s romance, violence, lot’s of violence, comedy and so many cool characters that I don’t know how someone could dismiss such a powerful series – Deadly Class is masterful television and a series so good that it not only succeeds as an adaptation, but it actually improves upon the source material much in the same way Kick-Ass the movie — kicked the comic book’s ass in the process. SyFy has two of the best comic book adaptations ever made currently airing on their network (Happy debuts next week for season 2!!!) so we should all take note and make sure we have access to this beautiful shit. (It’s the SPACE Channel for us Canadian fans — get it). Deadly Class is a compelling and stylistically incredible journey through an absolutely terrifying underworld of killers – and more importantly – it is THE show to beat in 2019 so far.