Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rating/Review: 'Curb Stomp' #1

"Curb Stomp" #1 (of 4) -- 6 out of 10 -- BOOM! STUDIOS; Written by Ryan Ferrier ("D4VE"); Drawn by Devaki Neogi ("Zombie Broadway"); Colors by Neil Lalonde ("fuckbuddies"); Letters by Colin Bell ("Gonzo Cosmic"); Cover by Tula Lotay ("Supreme: Blue Rose"); In Stores 2/25/2015.

Cool vs Stool: Cool

This review contains spoilers.

Ryan Ferrier lit the online comic scene on fire with "D4VE." Coincidentally this week as his stand-out title is on the rack for the first time in print, the first issue of "Curb Stomp," his next mini-series, also hits your local comic shop.

"Curb Stomp" follows The Fever, a gang of five hardcore mid-twenties women, as they defend their turf, the borough of Old Beach, from the neighboring boroughs' gangs. Readers are introduced to the gang with a "Switchblade Sisters"-type introduction of each gang member, complete with title card of each member's name. You can almost hear the DUN! DUN! DUN! with each introduction.

The Fever likes to drink and party hard, but sends a member out each night to patrol the streets of Old Beach. They are the law of the dying borough, displayed in the second page as one member defends her bodega's cash register with a baseball bat, "The cops don't come to Old Beach. Our justice is D.I.Y."

Meanwhile, two rival gangs make a deal with the mayor to take control of all the boroughs' gun and drug trafficking and hence bring the facade of peace under the mayor's control.

While on patrol, The Fever leader Machete Betty confronts a rival gang member on her turf who draws a gun on her -- despite that being against the "code" which the gangs live by. Luckily the gun jams and with the help of a well placed blade and a couple of punches, Betty brings the gang member to his knees, then places her boot to the back of his head as he's forced to bite the curb. And so we have our mini-series' title "Curb Stomp."

The rest of the issue is the rival gang settling the score and how The Fever intend to counter the gang's move, which of course can only go wrong and lead into issue #2.  

The cover and solicitation for this comic book was what placed it on the top of my to-read stack. Tula Lotay's cover is beautiful and sells the story perfectly with The Fever staring at the reader -- one with cigarette in mouth, another with baseball bat in hand and tongue stuck out as if to say, "Blah! We dare you to read this!" -- taunting the reader to dive in. The colors used on the cover -- think Instagram Walden Filter -- give a rough yet feminine feel, which is the exact tone set in the script of the issue.

The interior art carries a similar feel in color from the cover. The muted pastel colors continually remind you that the protagonists are women, and they will kick your trash! Though the coloring may feel light, levity is not the tone that is set. When a rival gang member is shot in the face -- shown in 3rd person POV, from behind the victim -- the pinks and reds used earlier to show the soft features of The Fever's beauty are then turned to show the horror of gang violence.

While the color choices are fitting and consistent, the illustration varies in consistency from panel to panel and page to page. Some characters are only recognizable throughout the issue due to her/his clothing, as facial features change unrecognizably between panels.

Part of the inconsistent feel can be attributed most of the panels' blank backgournds. On almost any given page, two-thirds of the backgrounds are left without any illustration, just a single color or color gradient to fill-in behind the characters.

Despite the somewhat jarring art, the dialogue in the issue gives a strong feel for the personality of each character. Ferrier's ability to write natural dialogue and equally natural interior dialogue keeps the story moving. Readers get a strong sense of the quirks native to each member of The Fever, however the motives for the gang are not fully developed. It is explained that the gang is there to protect Old Beach, but what drives the protection and from whom? Perhaps this will be developed in an issue to come, but there is a definite lack of motive explained for the hardcore, bad-girl, do-gooding Fever.  If it is to be developed later on, it better be soon; this issue is one of just four.

I give this first issue a 6 out of 10. Almost everyone involved in this mini-series is relatively new to the print-comic scene. As I may seem overly critical of Devaki Neogi's illustrations, she comes from a background in fashion and will surly fine-tune her skills as her comic book career continues. What the issue lacks in precision, it makes up for in tough-girl punk rockery. It's almost as if S.E. Hinton is finally getting to see her "The Outsiders" portrayed by women.

Read this issue if you enjoy the comics "Bitch Planet," or "Rat Queens" and the novel "The Outsiders."

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