Punk Pages #3

By Richard Heaven

Welcome to Punk Pages #3! Apologies for the short instalment, life has been taken up by a couple of heavy house moves. We may only be covering two new releases this week but believe me, you won’t want to miss either of them. Without much further ado…

Curb Stomp #1 (of 4) (Boom! Studios)

Ryan Ferrier / Devaki Neogi / Neil Lalonde

I’ve been waiting for Curb Stomp to hit the shelves for a while now. Whilst Boom! has, for the most part, kept their cards close to their chest, we knew that it was going to be the story of an all-female gang defending their home of Old Beach against their rivals. At best, this could be a fantastic piece of action based social commentary and at worst, nothing more than an excuse to write about violence in skimpy clothing. Fortunately Boom! studios have pulled through and delivered an exciting take on the classic down n’ gritty gang warfare story with a punky, grindhouse influenced twist.

The art is tight but scrappy enough to retain a little of that edgy, underground media feel. If I’m not mistaken then Curb Stomp is actually Devaki Neogi’s first published title, and what an issue to kick his career off with! Neil Lalonde deserves a round of applause as well, his choice of colours catching that Hobo With Shotgun vibe perfectly, eschewing realism for harsh mood lighting whenever possible. Trust me, it works.

In many ways the five young ladies that make up The Fever should be highly unlikable – baseball bat happy, junk loving, curb stompin’ troublemakers are rarely cast as heroes – but there’s something incredibly relatable in each and every member. Ferrier goes to great lengths to show everyone’s softer side – Mary cares for her (assumingly) terminally mother, Daisy baby sits a young girl called Sweet Pea whilst Betty clearly cares deeply for the welfare of her sisters. This isn’t gang warfare for profit or fame – this is survival.

In many ways it’s a shame that this has already been penned as a short four issue series – you really get the feeling that each member of The Fever have their own story to tell that could carry an issue all by itself. Still, if the demand is there then who knows – stranger things have happened!

One for the pull box? Definitely. It’s the perfect companion to Bitch Planet.

We Can Never Go Home #1 (of 5) (Black Mask)

Matthew Rosenburg / Patrick Kindlon / Josh Hood

We Can Never

Coming of age stories are nothing new. In many ways it’s the fertile stomping ground of indie film makers and amateur book writers, although over the years comic book writers have been looking back to their high school years for inspiration. With so many socially reclusive young men and pretty, popular young women being embraced by the media, it’s hard to find a new angle for your tales. Whilst the young-people-with-superpowers slant is hardly original (Smallville, Xmen and Heroes all spring to mind), Matthew Rosenburg and Patrick Kindlon (collectively known as Ashcan Press) approach it with a dry, punky attitude that keeps it fresh enough to be entertaining, if not ground breaking.

Duncan and Madison initially come off as their obvious stereotypes, until Madison accidently reveals her ability to access her anxiety induced super strength and Duncan opens up about being able to kill people with his mind. Both are fairly standard super powers but I’m curious to see whether Duncan can actually do what he claims – his dialogue is snappy but not without an undercurrent of sarcasm, leading me to believe that he’s smarter than he’s letting on. Madison is also incredibly well written – she openly states that she was adopted but her defensive reaction to anything that could be seen as a sign of affection from Duncan hints at more sinister history – after all, we still don’t know why she was adopted, or why she ended up in Madison of all places. Then again, I could be reading into this too much – after all, how many women can truthfully say that they haven’t encountered ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ when dealing with men?

It’s not just the well thought out characters that makes We Can Never… such an enjoyable read though – it’s clear that the writers come from a subcultural background we can relate to. It’s not brash – if you’re looking for ‘77 worship than you’re going to have a bad time – but little nods like the Rites Of Spring tee, Husker Du nod and the mixtape help build a world around the characters as much as the school and the supporting cast.

Contrary to what I said in the previous review, I’m quite glad that this has been penned as a 5 issue mini series. The first issue has really set the groundwork for a tight, highly focussed series and with the Ashcan team behind the wheel there’s no reason to believe that this can go anyway other than up.