Review: Slam #1
Modern roller derby is a growing phenomenon. In consideration for the 2020 Summer Olympics and the focus of the 2013 film Whip It, it’s not hard to find multiple leagues skating in major cities these days. In fact, one of my roommates has competed as “Halting Problem” in men’s leagues in both Atlanta and Austin.
Which is why it’s surprising that there hasn’t been a comic series with a focus on derby until now. Sure, Harley Quinn has Harley skating derby in Coney Island sometimes and A-Force introduced Dazzler playing derby down in Florida, but there’s been no stories revolving around derby in the sense of Whip It. Lucky for all of us though, Pamela Ribon, Veronica Fish and Brittany Peer have brought us Slam! through BOOM! Studios’ BOOM! Box imprint.
Slam! #1 follows Jennifer Chu and Maisie Huff as they finish up their training for the East Side Roller Girls and get drafted to teams. The issue zips back and forth chronologically, showing how the two were drafted to the league and their individual lives before and after they were drafted to derby. Specifically, how derby has helped their lives. For Jennifer, it’s given her more connections outside of her originally lonely life getting her masters. For Maisie, it’s a sense of life and purpose after being dumped by her fiance, believing her to be “debateable.” Which, of course, doesn’t help when Maisie is put on a probational draft to a different team than Jennifer.
After one issue, I already love Jennifer and Maisie. Their loving and supportive friendship is one that is often hard to find in comics and to see it flourish over the first issue is such a joy, especially when Jen reaches her hand out to Maisie while she’s having pre-first bout anxiety. Friendship between women, especially in terms of competitive sports, is such an important thing to portray and one that should be portrayed more often.
Another breath of fresh air in the first issue is Fish’s art. The variation on athletic bodies is something that can easily be observed in derby and seeing it portrayed in comics form is pretty amazing. She also gets down to the nitty gritty, with bruised muscled backs, wedgies from derby shorts, and shaking nerves. Peer’s colors especially give life to this bright new world of violence and camaraderie in a way that I can’t imagine another colorist doing.
While roller derby is its own world, Slam! #1 gives a glimpse into how that world can have positive effects on the people in it. Following the journey of Maisie and Jen as they first start out and heading into their new lives on teams is absolutely joyful and should absolutely set precedent for how women’s sports comics handle competition and friendships. Of course, now that Jen and Maisie are no longer on the same team, how will they handle flying on their own?
Story by: Pamela Ribon Art by: Veronica Fish and Brittany Peer
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Read
BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.