Review: CURB STOMP #1


Written by Ryan Ferrier
Art by Devaki Neogi, Neil Lalonde
Published by BOOM! Studios
Release Date: February 25, 2015

A fictional city is surrounded by three neighborhoods, each run by a local gang. From the beginning of the story, Ferrier establishes that all girl gang, The Fever, is different. Unlike their male counterparts in other neighborhoods, they’re not in it for the drugs or money that comes from crime. They’re in it to keep Old Beach safe. They’re a vigilante answer.

The first quarter of the issue is spent giving you small drops of personality and interaction among the girls. This provides readers with an emotional cord that will later help them invest in the outcome of their violent run-ins with rival gangs. Neogi creates such unique and dynamic figures in each member of the group. The feeling and comparison to Jaime Hernandez style is unavoidable. The same reaction can be felt when all of The Fever members a lined up. Clothing choices matching each personality. Despite Tula Lotay’s somewhat whitewashed and homogeneous, yet very pretty cover, Neogi’s girls are anything but all ducks in a row. Their distinct looks help sell you on the personalities very quickly rattled off in just a few short exchanges.

A very precise choice was made in having this group of protagonists be culturally diverse and all female; while rival gangs are mostly white and all male. There are some many personal layers of reference and meaning that can be brought into this story by readers because of this decision. Whatever was behind Ferrier’s decisions, even just nothing more than having non-comics traditional protagonists, critics and reviewers will be overtly dissecting intent and the resulting commentary. The comparisons made to real life gang actions, online debates between the sexes, race relations, the list is never ending on it’s implications. However, when boiled down, it’s a story about a group of women looking to protect their neighborhood. When the established norms between the gangs are broken, all hell breaks lose.

Things really do become violent. Wondering if this is going to be more of an everyday lifestyle story where people talk about being in a gang or family but rarely encounter conflict? No, you’re mistaken. Instead, Ferrier has followed along the lines of The Outsiders and created a very very confrontational climax to this first issue. It leaves the reader fully aware that with just a four issue miniseries, none of these characters may be safe.  Of course, then there is the actual act of “curb stomping.” What, you didn’t think it was just an metaphorical title used to sell books, did you? Nope. It happens. Even if you know it does, you’re still not prepared for the overwhelming sense of unease which follows. The violent subject matter might throw some readers off. Neogi does a great job of never showing any actions directly, and that might be what makes it even worse. Your imagination is left to fill in the blanks. Relief comes in the form of the color choices for the book.  Lalonde uses non-traditional colors for skin tones and over all lighting affects. The results of all the violence throughout the book are somewhat dampened and easier to process.

Beyond the action, the electrifying characterizations and  the sense of protecting community there is a subplot of gentrification and corrupt politics. The threads are laid out in the middle of the story and provide the true reasoning behind the ensuing gang war. These are all elements that the protagonists are completely unaware of and it is unclear at this point how deeply this story will go. However,  it is clear that Ferrier and Neogi have bigger designs in mind than turf war and coming to grips with the consequences of ones choices. Ferrier is known for over the top stories with series such as Tiger Lawyer and D4VE, which sees physical print for the first time this week as well. If anything, this feels like a subtle introduction to massive twists and turns ahead.

The Verdict: 9.0/10


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