Boom! Studios continues its amazing track record of capturing my heart with beautiful art and girl friendship. In SLAM! VOL. 1, writer Pamela Ribon and artist Veronica Fish dive into the world of roller derby, a sport dominated by women. Our main characters, Jennifer and Maisie, both join roller derby in hopes of being a part of something. Jennifer, the workaholic, and Maisie, struggling with a breakup, become friends instantly on the first day of practice. But when they’re drafted to different teams after their rookie days, their friendship takes a turn for the worse.

Colorful Characters

Characters are king, and SLAM! makes no exceptions here. Everyone is realistic and fleshed out, so they feel like friends of your own. You can tell this comic was created by women because it portrays authentic friendships and problems. Ribon also worked on screenwriting for MOANA, so it’s no surprise when you see just how fleshed out the characters in SLAM! are.

Each personality is vastly different from the next. One of the best ways to see this individuality is through the roller derby names that each skater chooses. Velvet Coffin, a member of Jennifer’s team, certainly lives up to her title. She’s stoic, strong, and abrasive at first. Maisie’s derby name, Ithinka Can, is telling of her insecurities as an athlete and in general. So no matter where you look, there’s bound to be a character you can relate to.

READ: Want more from Boom! Studios? Check out THE BACKSTAGERS VOL. 1!

Image courtesy of Boom! Studios

And with these relatable characters come relatable problems. One of the running themes throughout volume one is confidence, which both Maisie and Jennifer lack in different ways. Maisie is hardly social at the beginning of the series, but soon finds her wings when she bonds with her new team. Her newfound courage even connects her with a new boyfriend. However, as Maisie rises up, Jennifer finds herself left behind, an obstacle that’s all too familiar for anyone who’s grown apart from close friends.

Image courtesy of Boom! Studios

Expressive Art

Veronica Fish’s style is dynamic and colorful, perfect for the high-octane roller derby world. Overall, the tone is pretty light-hearted and fun so the neon colors establish the excitement of being in the rink and watching in the stands. Even for readers who don’t like sports (like myself), you’ll probably want to know more about roller derby by the time you’re through.

And unlike the stereotypical idea that female sports are meant for sex appeal, you won’t see any fan service here. The raw, honest bruises and broken bones will attest to that. SLAM! is similar to movies like BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM or WHIP IT, where the female characters may have some boy problems but their lives don’t revolve around their relationship to men. Instead, all the excitement comes from friendship and rivalry surrounding the sport. Mainly we see Jennifer and Maisie’s lives unfold and intertwine, but even minor characters get backstories. From late shifts, motherhood, injuries, and breakups, roller derby is an escape for women of all kinds.

Image courtesy of Boom! Studios

The diverse bodies also show how roller derby isn’t just for one kind of person. Maisie is thin and short, while Jennifer is tall and muscular, but neither body type is “stronger” than the other. Both characters are extremely good at roller derby because they put the effort into practice. Every body shape is valid in roller derby, and that’s a comforting thought.

CLICK: Need more dynamic art? Catch up with Boom! Studios’ MISFIT CITY #3!

Female Sports in SLAM! VOL. 1

The sports world is often a “man’s world” even though women are just as successful in athletics as men. We see it all the time with reporters conveniently forgetting that Serena Williams is one of the best tennis players to ever exist. But in SLAM! there’s no erasing the fact that women can be just as competitive and tough as men.

Roller derby in particular is a great sport to explore because it’s pretty damn brutal. There are concussions, broken legs, bruises, bandages – the whole nine yards. But aside from the injuries, it’s also a female-dominated sport. Throughout VOL. 1, it’s pretty clear that these women aren’t softies. They’re not toxically tough, but they do emphasize that saying “sorry” during practice is unnecessary. There’s no holding back, even outside of official games.

Image courtesy of Boom! Studios

The combination of sports and personal life is what makes SLAM! so great. Roller derby is obviously a central topic, but it doesn’t overshadow individuals. We see how people struggle with balancing their lives with roller derby, but it’s too important to give up. School, relationships, jobs, and everything in between get a moment to shine as well. So if you’re looking for a comic with great artwork, positive female friendship, an awesome sport, and a dash of angst, SLAM! is definitely a good place to start!

Pick up SLAM VOL. 1 in stores or online August 2nd!


SLAM! VOL. 1 by Pamela Ribon and Veronica Fish
SLAM! VOL. 1 will make you want to lace up your childhood skates and hit the rink! With exciting art and an honest story about friendship and rivalry, SLAM! VOL. 1 is an all-around hit!
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come on and slam!

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