Publisher: BOOM! Box
Writer: Pamela Ribon
Illustrator: Veronica Fish
Colours: Brittany Peer
Slam is perhaps one of the most original comic books that I have read all year and after one issue I am already hooked. It is fresh, fun, emotional and exciting. While the plot is about Roller Derby, you don’t need to know a lot to truly appreciate this piece of work.
We follow two young women in there 20s: Jennifer Chu and Maise Huff. Two woman in completely different situations brought into the world of Roller Derby, together they compete in an amateur match to try to get recruited. As two protagonists go they both have very different reaches and appeals. Jennifer is a masters student who spent all her time studying and keeping fit; Maise had just come out of a three-year relationship and was dealing with her life crumbling around her. Together they find that there was something they were both missing in their life – the derby. It doesn’t have the same effect on both of them though. We see Maise start to get better and her life improve; Jennifer on the other hand finds her life starting to get too hectic and chaotic. The two woman are endearing and very likeable, they help draw you into this story for different reasons and the friendship that blooms from it is so sweet you can’t help but enjoy it, yet also worry about how it might go on to affect the story later.
Something that really appealed to me about this story is its portrayal of female characters. Pretty much all the characters we meet in this story are women, and the comic doesn’t shy away from having these characters deviate from stereotypes. They are coarse and rough around the edges, they are slobs, they are tough and sporty. I am a sucker for good, strong female characters. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy cool male characters as well but strong women are just fewer, especially in a comic that is focused on sports, so it is refreshing to see. The comic is written with such a good strong sense of humour that I found myself with a smile from start to finish.
Slam has some great art to it as well – the characters have some great designs and even the background characters have a lot of detail to them. They also make good use of the art to show the mirroring effect that Roller Derby has on the two female characters, from similar shots of their homes and how they have changed since they started going, to the page that introduces the characters and their traits. The pages have a full body drawing of the characters with pre-derby and after-derby characteristics on them. For the two women it is mirrored with which side they are on – it is a subtle thing that shows how Maise’s life improves, but how Jennifer’s becomes more chaotic.
Slam is great, I’m not even gonna try to hide how much I love this series so far. It has everything you could need in a comic: humour, action, emotion, relatable characters. It has started off strong and while its Roller Derby setting might hinder how far it can go as a series it is such a different setting that is more than welcome.