“Deadly Class” on Syfy
While Marvel and DC continue to battle it out for box office supremacy, Syfy takes a deep dive into some more obscure comic book properties with its adaptation of “Deadly Class,” based on the ongoing Image comic by Rick Remender and Wesley Craig.
The series tracks the tragedy-filled life of Marcus (newcomer Bejamin Wadsworth), a troubled teen who is bounced around orphanages in the San Francisco area following his parents’ death in a freak accident. After burning down the last horrible boy’s home in which he was incarcerated, Marcus finds himself living on the streets and hiding from cops. A chance encounter—improbably involving Day of the Dead and a gal on a motorcycle with a katana—causes him to stumble across the secret world of King’s Dominion Academy.
This clandestine boarding school, hidden behind a Chinatown meatpacking plant and run by the mysterious “Master Lin” (Benedict Wong, who played Wong in Marvel’s Doctor Strange), turns out to be a training academy for up-and-coming young assassins. Most of the students are the offspring of various mobsters, cartel members, mass murderers and the occasional covert government agent. So, yeah, it’s basically Harry Potter, but with killers instead of wizards.
Marcus isn’t the son of a famous killer, but his escape from the boy’s school did result in a number of deaths, putting him on the radar of Master Lin. Does Marcus have what it takes to be a world-class assassin? Despite a few reservations, Marcus is soon outfitted with a school uniform and welcomed into the hallowed halls. At King’s Dominion, Marcus finds himself enrolled in classes like “Muay Thai,” “Firearms” and “Poisons” (that last one taught by punk rock icon Henry Rollins, in a straight-faced cameo). Marcus makes friends with a few of the school’s outcasts (British punk Billy, goth chick Petra) and catches the attentions of murderous Mexican gal Maria (Venezuelan soap star María Gabriela de Faría). Nonetheless, he finds himself a regular target of the school’s countless bullies (neo-Nazi babe Brandy Lynn, murderous cartel member Chico, hulking Russian Viktor).
Bullying, hazing and the occasional murder is more or less encouraged at King’s Dominion, and all students are expected to pledge one of the school’s various violent gangs. (Think Hogwarts, but with nothing but Slytherins). Driven by thoughts of revenge for all the horrible things that have happened to him in his short, tragic life, however, Marcus takes a shine to the school’s deadly curriculum.
“Deadly Class,” is created and produced by the Russo brothers—who gave us Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Infinity War. These two obviously know their way around a comic book and seem happy exploring the notably darker themes of “Deadly Class.”
The series is set in the ’80s and features plenty of period music like Depeche Mode, The Cure and Killing Joke. (Ronald Reagan’s wholesale shutdown of America’s mental institutions is also an important plot point.) For some this may result in an uncomfortable high school flashback. (Hopefully your alma mater featured a more metaphorical form of backstabbing.)
Though it lacks the gonzo, over-the-top, hyperviolent stylings of Syfy’s other Image comic series “Happy!,” “Deadly Class” packs enough blood-soaked action to keep audiences interested. Special teens in a secret training school is a familiar plot device—from The X-Men comics to the Harry Potter series to The CW’s “Legacies.” But combine that with the uncomfortable world of killer teens (Columbine high school, Battle Royale, The Hunger Games) and “Deadly Class” makes for an edgy, entertaining mashup.