It seems like the buzzy phrase “squad goals” won’t be going away any time soon. But before squads, we had girl gangs: groups of girls and women coming together to protect their families, communities, and above all, each other, all the while looking stylish and cool. Our girl gang in Curb Stomp is The Fever, the protectors of the borough of Old Beach. As de facto leader Machete Betty tells the reader early on, “The cops don’t come to Old Beach. Our justice is D.I.Y.” The City has the cops, the boroughs have their gangs and together they have their own rules for keeping out of each other’s way and respective boroughs.
The events of Curb Stomp center around The Fever fighting to keep hold of their borough. The Wrath and Bayside Five, The Fever’s counterparts from the other boroughs, form an alliance with The City’s mayor. The goal: get rid of The Fever and gentrify Old Beach. Afterwards, The Wrath and Bayside Five will supply guns and drugs to The City’s residents, and the The City makes money off Old Beach’s new tourists. Getting rid of The Fever won’t be an easy task. While out on patrol, Machete Betty curb stomps a member of The Wrath after he pulls a gun on her. This act of violence offers The Wrath a way to set off their plan to have everyone turn against The Fever and finally wipe them out. It’ll take loyalty, strength, and pure moxie for The Fever to win this fight.
Curb Stomp reminds me of movies like The Warriors; Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!; and Switchblade Sisters. The book carries a number of the girl gang tropes, including at least one motorcycle, but stays away from the more exploitative bits of the aforementioned films. While there are indeed cute outfits I will eventually attempt to recreate, Curb Stomp thankfully doesn’t rely on over-sexualized characterizations or rape, both of which are unfortunately overused in a lot of stories about bad-ass, knife-wielding broads. Instead, Ryan Ferrier focuses on The Fever’s relationship to each other and their communities. Each member of The Fever has her own motivations and dysfunctions, which adds dimension to the political twists and turns they unwittingly find themselves in. The book doesn’t shy away from the ugly side of a girl gang tale. There is a fair amount of violence, none of which is hidden away off-panel. The aftermath of the curb stomp is a panel I won’t easily forget. Additionally, we see the effects of substance withdrawal and police brutality in full force.
I loved the look of this book. Devaki Neogi’s artwork is complemented really well by Jeremy Lawson’s colors. In many ways it felt like a Henri de Toulouse Lautrec painting; artwork which highlights the gritty and pretty sides of a city’s underbelly. Mix in an aesthetic inspired by early punk culture, and you have yourself a very cool look. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Curb Stomp. If your collection already has a number of B movies, punk culture and history, or well-circulated Quentin Tarantino DVDs, it is safe to say Curb Stomp would be a welcome addition to your library.
by Ryan Ferrier
Art by Devaki Neogi, Jeremy Lawson