Comic Book Review: Slam #1
Roller derby is a sport dominated by women. This is fast and physical game has empowered countless numbers of women across the United States and United Kingdom and has most recently popped up in “Harley Quinn” and the film Whip It. The bonds between teammates is special and in “Slam”, we see that first hand.
“Slam” #1 doesn’t get too deep into the rules of roller derby. In fact, it doesn’t really want you to care all that much about the actual competition at this point. It wants you to connect to these characters through their doubts and strengths and not through the physicality of the sport. Ribon’s script is completely centered around Jen and Maisie, two women who come from very different backgrounds who have found a place in roller derby. They’re rookies and so much of this issue is our introduction to them and how they get to their first match.
Jen and Maisie act as our eyes into this world and even though “Slam” #1 moves fast, it doesn’t become unmanageable because they anchor us. At the core of this issue, there is a strong message about empowerment. “Slam” #1 shows us two women who keep getting knocked down and aren’t completely sure of themselves but they keep getting up and they keep fighting. In connecting with other women and this sport, they find strength they didn’t know they had. This is what has made BOOM! Studios so successful in 2016. They’ve launched these new series that have depth but still entertain. Like “Lumberjanes”, like “Giant Days”, there’s something magical about “Slam” and Ribon’s writing of Jen and Maisie are a big part of that.
Veronica Fish worked on some amazing issues of “Archie” recently and I’m glad to see her branch out into a creator owned series like this. Fish’s designs of each woman are purposely detailed to reflect personality even if we don’t get a ton of time with the other characters. There’s a rebel spirit in hair styling and the visible bruises and scars on these athletes. These women look like actual roller derby players and aren’t just wearing costumes. Fish gets space to tell her story as well with a few early pages that rely only on her visuals. There’s a great montage of every one gearing up and it has a great effect in building up the anticipation that comes before any big event. Fish’s art isn’t gritty but I think that works for “Slam”. I think that works for what BOOM! Studios is a publisher and while the derby match isn’t incredibly violent, it captures exactly the kind of action it needs to.
Brittany Peer’s colors are just so great. There’s a nice level of nuance in what she does. While the cover is a neon dream, we get something different in the interiors. While far from a dark book, Peer uses shadows effectively through the use of layered blues. I love what she does with the arena as it takes on this grungy, amusement park feel. The use of pinks and purples feels inviting and it can feel like “Slam” wants us to come into this world with Jen and Maisie.
“Slam” is off to a great start with a creative team that works very well together. This roller derby drama has the tenacity to go the distance and I can’t wait to see what happens next.