Review: Curb Stomp #1

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Publisher: BOOM! Studio

Writer: Ryan Ferrier

Artist: Devaki Neogi

Curb Stomp #1 introduces us to Betty Machete, Daisy Chain, Derby Girl, Violet Volt, and Bloody Mary, the five members of the gang ‘The Fever‘. The Fever control one of the three boroughs of an undisclosed city each controlled by a different gang. There is a fragile treaty between the boroughs that maintains peace, broken when one of the few governing rules between gangs gets ignored. Given the very nature of fragile gangland treaties even the smallest transgressions can get quickly out of hand as the offended party cries for retribution; a thorny issue at the best of time if a wealth of crime films and novels are to be believed. It should come as little surprise that when Fever girl Betty Machete finds a member of rival gang ‘The Wrath‘ breaking one of the sacred laws on her turf there are some unhappy with her violent on the spot punishment. Moreover there are some that look at the situation to enact a more lasting solution to the persistent gang problem plaguing the city.

Curb Stomp #1 wastes little time introducing the five gang members with only brief glimpses of their personal lives and their motivations for being self elected queens of their borough. As Curb Stomp is only a four part miniseries it makes sense not to waste too much space delving deep into backstories of the women of Fever. In fact in some cases the in the expansion of motivations less is certainly more; in some cases however less is certainly less. Due to the different depths of characterisation certain members of Fever feel a little two dimensional at present but hopefully we learn more of each member of the team as this series progresses.This ends up feeling like a minor issue to the telling of the story however as Curb Stomp has well written and natural dialogue that helps to through the reader quickly familiarise themselves with the gang as a whole while retaining each of the individuals voices; it is through the interaction between the women and others that we learn the most about their characters. Again, as Curb Stomp is currently only planned to run for four issues this certainly helps this début issue move on to the main meat of the story quickly with very little dilly-dallying.

With a tagline of “Ladies, Come Out To Play” it should come as very little surprise that Curb Stomp #1 has a distinct feeling of being an all female comicbook remake of The Warriors (albeit with a main cast reduced to five). Set in a slightly derelict borough of some unnamed city, in an undisclosed time period Curb Stomp #1 manages to create a dystopian near-future with very heavy 80;s punk vibe and grindhouse overtones without the key themes ever feeling at odds with one another. The creators of Curb Stomp have outwardly stated that this series is an answer to the growing number of fans asking for more female led comics. In this it certainly succeeds, the cast is an ensemble of strong female characters with individual voices that don’t get used as sex symbols. While the fact that this is still a thing that needed to be applauded in comics is telling of the changes still needed to be made but comics like this are certainly a step in the right direction. That is not to give the impression that this is some feminist call to arms but rather it is a well written story of neo-80’s gang warfare that just happens to have a five females as main characters.

The art of Curb Stomp #1, drawn by newcomer Devaki Neogi, is very reminiscent of that of Mike Allred. Albeit if Allred decided to tap into a much darker, punkier side than he has previously shown. Although this is not to in anyway suggest that Neogi’s art can be described as derivative as she clearly has put a great deal of effort into creating individual looks and styles for each member of Fever. She also does a great job at the overall tone of the book similarly managing to juggle the “near future” tone with the grimy 80’s grindhouse vibe. A small issue is that characters upper lips are often drawn slightly too thick giving them rather impressive but nevertheless unfortunate pencil moustaches. A small price to pay for otherwise impressive art that captures the tone of the book well.

As BOOM! Studios are committing themselves to increasing their output of female led comic books Curb Stomp #1 is hopefully a good indication of the quality of work we can expect in the near future. There may well be some comic readers that are put off by such a barefaced pro-female agenda but that is certain to say more about them than the quality of this comic. For one thing they’d be depriving themselves the chance to read a very fun comic.