A friendship is on its dying breath while as a shot in the championship game is on the line. Read on for our spoiler free review of “Slam” #4
Written by Pamela Ribon
Illustrated Veronica Fish and Brittany Peer
CanCan and Knockout are living separate lives after their friendship fizzles…until Knockout volunteers to ref a bout with CanCan’s team and appears to be calling extra penalties on her old friend.
In the last few years, BOOM! Studios has found success with their BOOM! Box imprint. This imprint has allowed them to go outside of their well known licenses. Through BOOM! Box, series such as “Lumberjanes” and “Giant Days” have not only found a home but have also found a ton of success. “Slam” is a series looking to capture that same kind of success and like “Giant Days”, it speaks to a little older crowd without veering into a too mature territory. “Slam” #4 is the most action packed issue of the series so far as it moves fast but doesn’t forget its emotional core in that friendship between CanCan and Knockout.
“Slam” #4 brings us to the semi – finals in the roller derby league that CanCan and Knockout are a part of. They are finally facing each other in a truly serious match but instead of this being anywhere near joyous, there is tension between CanCan and Knockout. Their friendship has pretty much ended in the weeks since their last argument, they haven’t spoken. This match is the first time they’ve seen each other but they can’t focus on that. While this is happening, Knockout is positioned to take an even bigger role in this match as Velvet Coffin’s knee is ready to give out on her.
Ribon’s script is balancing a lot of different things here in “Slam” #4 but she’s able to pack a lot into this one issue and while it can be tough to bounce back and forth so much, it all comes together in a cohesive way. This issue features a lot of payoff for a lot of storylines and still manages to keep its charm. While not perfect, I enjoy Ribon’s ability to write charming dialogue. This doesn’t read like “here’s what I think young women sound like” and that’s something worth mentioning given how much of that we get in mainstream comics.
While this is the most action packed issue so far, the unfolding drama between CanCan and Knockout as they try to not only avoid each other but also win this match is at the forefront. In just four issues, we’ve seen them evolve into true roller derby queens as their lives grew more complicated. Their friendship is the hook here and the way that they literally skate circles around each other is accomplished in a sweet and not tense fashion which doesn’t entirely work. “Slam” tries to remain a bit lighter and while CanCan and Knockout’s problems are reasonable, the lack of tension does leave something to be desired. Their conflict isn’t entirely unbelievable by any means but the tension isn’t played up enough. It all still reads very “nice” and with a little more tension, this aspect of “Slam” #4 and how the match comes to a head could have a little more punch.
Of all the issues so far, this one features more roller derby action than any of the others and it unfolds in an epic manner, similar to the big ending of any sports centric movie. While Ribon’s ability to balance the script plays into this, most of the heavy lifting in making the roller derby match work is on artist Veronica Fish. Fish does a lot right in this issue but her work on the actual roller derby match is fantastic. For someone like me, who is only seeing this stuff explained for the first time, she got me involved in the action. Once the match begins, there is a lot of bouncing back and forth but what Fish does so well is pull your eyes to the action. The angles she uses highlight each devastating bump and she uses closeups to really show us how hard these hits are. Her closeups on the action and on the reaction of the characters put us right into the match and provide the excitement of being there. She uses speed lines to her advantage to provide the right kind of energy and movement to the skating rink and the posing is just right as all these characters actually move like they are on roller skates.Continued below
Fish also does an amazing job with settings. This roller rink comes to life as an actual, tangible place and so do the people within it. The crowd is excited, and the little details like t-shirt booths and posters all add to the atmosphere. There is also something really fun Fish does early on with showing the perspectives of CanCan and Knockout. She splits the page down the middle in a mirroring way that lets her use the space of the page more effectively. It also shows how similar the two of them still are despite their falling out. Brittany Peer brings the punk rock energy to “Slam” #4 that brings everything together. Her colors are incredibly bright with lots of pinks and greens being used. Each article of clothing, including knee pads and helmets, pop and her use of neons in the backgrounds give higher energy to the story being told.
Final Verdict: 7.3 – “Slam” is not perfect but it is an enjoyable read, especially for anyone who’s enjoyed BOOM!’s recent output.