Comics On TV

Deadly Class Early Look: The Daggers in Your Back Are Real at This School

Syfy series set in the ’80s stays true to its source material with comic book co-creator and writer Rick Remender aboard as series co-showrunner and the Russo Bros. as EPs.

by | August 2, 2018 | Comments

Early in the second issue of Image Comic’s Deadly Class – a comic book series about a young man surviving a high school for assassins, drug lords, strong men, and other criminals – protagonist Marcus Lopez makes an observation that feels like a mission statement for the entire series: “Just doesn’t matter where they from, kids are all the same – vicious. Only difference is, in this place … the dagger they put in your back is real.”

Plucked off the streets of San Francisco and admitted to Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts, Marcus is forced to face his own social anxieties, trauma from seeing his parents killed, and a lethal form of otherwise mundane high school experiences. So, as it happens, the dagger is very real.


COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL: SAN DIEGO -- "Deadly Class Panel" -- Pictured: (l-r) Ben Wadsworth, Lana Condor, Benedict Wong, Maria Gabriela De Faria, Luke Tennie -- (Photo by: Neilson Barnard/SYFY)

(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Syfy)

In fact, the dagger metaphor was a refrain Rotten Tomatoes heard a number of times at Comic-Con International: San Diego as the cast and crew of Syfy’s television version of Deadly Class descended on the convention to preview the upcoming series. And chief among those driving the premise home was the series co-showrunner Rick Remender, who also happens to be the co-creator (alongside artist Wes Craig) and writer of the comic book.

But by taking on showrunner duties, Remender exerts more control over the adaptation of his comic book series than most creators ever enjoy. And alongside fellow showrunner Miles Orion Feldsott and executive producers Joe and Anthony Russo of Avengers: Infinity War fame, he was involved in hiring top-level creative personnel behind the scenes and stars like Benjamin Wadsworth, Lana Condor, and Benedict Wong. A process Remender admitted was “surreal.”

“During the pilot, I had moments of the surreal [as well],” he added. “Sitting there and seeing hundreds of extras walking around Kings Dominion and a crew working so hard to bring to life flights of fancy [Wes and I created.]”

Craig, whose visual sensibility is honored in the portion of the pilot shown at Comic-Con, described walking onto set and seeing the Kings Dominion crest rendered in on the set within a real metal door: “That is the craziest thing, seeing the army to create this little comic into a real thing.”


Benjamin Wadsworth in Deadly Class trailer screencap (Syfy)

(Photo by Syfy)

Set in the 1980s, the early issues of the comic book series sees Marcus (played by Wadsworth on the series), the son of political dissidents who fled to the U.S., adjusting to life at Kings Dominion while hoping its unusual curriculum will get him closer to his goal: revenge on then-president Ronald Reagan. He also gets to know a handful of the students including the sword-wielding Saya (Condor), young Cartel assassin Maria (Maria Gabriela de Faria), and Willie Lewis, a character actor Luke Tennie said, “makes it known he’s not the one to mess with.” In that initial story, the group flees Kings Dominion for a wild weekend of drug abuse and assassinations.

In an afterword to the first collected edition of Deadly Class, Remender wrote he was inspired by memories of his tendency to be the new kid at school as his family moved around a lot in the 1980s and the days he spent growing up in and near Phoenix, Arizona during a particularly violent part of its history. Recalling friends who died of gunshots and overdoses, he declared, “I wanted to explore that time in my life and the impressions high school, coupled with that violence, left on me.” While both the comic book and television series contain stylized action, the personal connection for Remender was very real when we spoke with him.

“As someone who saw friends shot and was nearly beaten to death twice, the effects the violence had on me and how I proceed in life [are still there]. If I walk into a crowded place, I’m still checking my periphery and I’m still nervous about my surroundings,” he explained. “I don’t know if that will ever go away.”


Liam James in Deadly Class trailer screencap (Syfy)

(Photo by Syfy)

And though the television series will contain plenty of action, he said, “it’s more about the effects of the violence and the aftermath and what it does to young people more than the violence itself.” Equating Deadly Class to “what if Richard Linklater had done Kill Bill,” he added his interest is in getting to “the true heart of the characters and [their] humanity.” The tone also allows the series to indulge in “heightened reality ninja backflip stuff.” But Remender also stressed he feels a responsibility to explore the aftermath of the violence “rather that just bathing in it.” It is definitely a recurring theme in the early issues of the comic book, which serve as the “spine” for the first season of the television show.

Nevertheless, events from the early story line will be remixed for television – the opening 10 minutes shown at Comic-Con resemble the first issue with notable changes of San Francisco landmarks in a few key moments and a few tweaks to Marcus’s initial situation – but Remender said he wanted to retain “this Generation X snapshot I remembered growing up.” With that in mind, he wanted it to remain set in the 1980s with as much of the period music Syfy could afford.

“There’s been all these people involved [in developing the show], and they didn’t want to change the voice,” he later said during the sneak preview of the show for fans. Maintaining that voice was important as Remender felt Generation X has been marginalized in popular culture over the last decade or so.

“These scenes are gone,” he added. “Media needs to see what we were snorting back then.”

Prior to the presentation, Craig keyed in on why he and Remender felt it was important for both the comic book and the show to reflect their experiences in the 1980s: “What happen to you in [in high school] really shapes who you are, whether you want that to be the truth or not. You think about it with heightened emotions.”

“Because that was the first time we’re doing so many things,” added Remender. “That’s the part I really love, when they experience things similar to what we experienced.”


Siobhan Williams in Deadly Class trailer screencap (Syfy)

(Photo by Syfy)

The characters of Deadly Class experience traditional rites of adolescence like break-ups, unrequited affection, and trying to satisfy hard-to-please parents while also attending classes about historic assassins, destabilizing governments, and making poisons. A class Remender joked he actually took — “It went terribly,” he quipped. But the wild course work continues to reflect the overall theme of the series.

“The idea is that the mundane is what we all experienced in high school,” said Remender. “But the tumultuous experiences are then magnified into the metaphor.”

“We’re not playing super powered people; we’re playing real people, so the threats are real,” added Tennie. “Some people might have abilities that might skew the stakes, but we’re flesh-and-bone people.”

Tennie also said he cannot wait to explore those flesh-and-blood people when production on the series resumes.

Though the most of the cast only has the pilot to go on, they anticipate receiving the scripts for the next four episodes soon. But Wadsworth admitted reading further ahead in the comic book to get a better handle on Marcus: “He’s a rabid puppy. He might look cute, but he might bite you.”

Wadsworth believes Marcus has a sense of ethics to him despite being surrounded by unethical people and a rage that he said will be “exciting to show on film.”

For Remender, bringing the comic book to life is as much a humbling experience as it is fulfilling: “[Wes and I] work very hard and we put a lot of ourselves in the book. The amount of energy Wes puts into the pages is staggering. We love it and to see other people love it and get involved in helping to make it is hugely gratifying.”

Deadly Class airs on Syfy in 2019.


Tag Cloud

discovery USA social media Film fresh LGBTQ book comedies venice comiccon sequels rotten BAFTA Crackle sag awards asian-american Emmy Nominations See It Skip It TCA Awards Spring TV science fiction foreign Epix strong female leads Exclusive Video Columbia Pictures spider-man series Brie Larson new zealand Toys Hulu psycho Showtime Amazon Studios Pop worst movies Star Wars PBS Disney Black Mirror FXX Stephen King Creative Arts Emmys 99% disaster witnail SundanceTV BET Awards dramedy serial killer Country Paramount Network Food Network Sony Pictures Alien Fox Searchlight GIFs RT21 4/20 worst chucky rom-coms mutant theme song harry potter Broadway Masterpiece Apple TV Plus LGBT E3 high school japanese Paramount Plus Adult Swim DC Universe tv talk deadpool psychological thriller criterion kids zero dark thirty jurassic park diversity Funimation TruTV Oscars TV renewals Hear Us Out heist movie Shondaland emmy awards Video Games doctor who Interview Travel Channel cancelled television sequel Acorn TV 2017 streaming movies cancelled TV series MTV documentary The Purge toronto cults Apple TV+ war revenge Valentine's Day Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Awards Tour Marvel screenings Polls and Games screen actors guild kong television Avengers National Geographic docudrama Elton John BET 20th Century Fox TCA Winter 2020 prank Awards cats richard e. Grant Cosplay Infographic Mary Poppins Returns historical drama 2021 VH1 Disney+ Disney Plus Baby Yoda ABC Signature popular Tubi politics Holiday Anna Paquin slashers spanish language french scene in color Legendary Best and Worst jamie lee curtis 93rd Oscars unscripted DGA YouTube Red The CW marvel cinematic universe New York Comic Con dogs halloween dragons know your critic batman composers The Walt Disney Company Arrowverse documentaries comics dceu obituary ESPN singing competition Superheroe ABC Mindy Kaling SDCC Cannes book adaptation comic books YA DirecTV Writers Guild of America streaming Character Guide Amazon Prime halloween tv WarnerMedia Hallmark Christmas movies HBO Go archives TV Vudu BBC golden globes Drama telelvision Tarantino cancelled Reality robots TCA First Look australia cartoon space name the review cars ghosts cooking Captain marvel CNN Netflix Nominations Amazon stoner period drama scorecard all-time ITV stop motion adventure Logo godzilla Discovery Channel Star Trek Trailer parents First Reviews Countdown animated NBC Horror supernatural target Netflix Christmas movies spy thriller The Witch Sundance TV TLC Image Comics spanish romantic comedy FOX Hallmark Comics on TV Calendar what to watch green book Film Festival Lifetime Christmas movies Pirates based on movie anime reviews YouTube quibi Thanksgiving boxoffice blockbusters Reality Competition aliens The Arrangement Fall TV miniseries Mary poppins technology Quiz biography Sneak Peek SXSW franchise travel OWN Pop TV Comedy Cartoon Network teaser Schedule Disney Plus Spectrum Originals cops A24 cinemax CBS All Access new york child's play natural history AMC Watching Series Trivia GLAAD Tomatazos zombie superman Winter TV Apple PlayStation Action medical drama 21st Century Fox ViacomCBS Mary Tyler Moore vampires spinoff laika christmas movies binge BBC America nature 24 frames true crime thriller Women's History Month Pacific Islander Academy Awards Podcast movies dc latino Family casting women Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt hollywood The Academy comic Crunchyroll Warner Bros. Britbox Trophy Talk game of thrones 2016 GoT CMT Bravo black facebook finale Teen concert Kids & Family kaiju nbcuniversal zombies football Comic Book Turner VICE scary movies crime thriller rotten movies we love 2019 pirates of the caribbean YouTube Premium Pet Sematary Summer Red Carpet Biopics TNT 2018 hist Binge Guide independent Extras Comedy Central Sundance Now Mystery Spike Martial Arts TCA 2017 American Society of Cinematographers festivals Shudder breaking bad festival sports Musicals APB justice league golden globe awards blaxploitation aapi universal monsters CBS Song of Ice and Fire Television Critics Association Marathons Premiere Dates TV One Fox News Chernobyl Classic Film HBO Max MSNBC Photos video on demand A&E rt archives satire DC Comics History saw Heroines Sundance ABC Family remakes transformers Black History Month Esquire south america razzies live action Ellie Kemper Mudbound docuseries Television Academy children's TV FX on Hulu Animation sitcom Grammys Marvel Television Nickelodeon twilight best Rom-Com Walt Disney Pictures Music fast and furious Christmas mission: impossible stand-up comedy Lifetime Year in Review RT History Freeform Pride Month movie PaleyFest renewed TV shows james bond video Emmys Winners indie Super Bowl Ghostbusters President Lucasfilm 71st Emmy Awards Endgame lord of the rings ratings Fantasy talk show E! spain trailers a nightmare on elm street Rock films Lionsgate news Certified Fresh Amazon Prime Video classics 2015 crossover TCM MCU werewolf Disney Channel Pixar king kong X-Men new star wars movies die hard Marvel Studios 72 Emmy Awards cancelled TV shows italian game show TBS anthology WGN IFC Films Opinion superhero canceled TV shows ID Nat Geo Syfy award winner The Walking Dead NYCC crime drama dark TIFF OneApp Disney streaming service boxing Set visit TV movies Universal TV Land Superheroes crime Peacock police drama mockumentary joker hidden camera canceled critics USA Network HBO international Musical CW Seed political drama 2020 free movies monster movies versus Election elevated horror toy story Rocky 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards FX Box Office hispanic Dark Horse Comics IFC Ovation Tumblr DC streaming service 45 Western BBC One reboot 007 indiana jones VOD San Diego Comic-Con nfl El Rey blockbuster Paramount Rocketman romance adaptation Sci-Fi Holidays directors Starz Turner Classic Movies