Review: Hi Fi Fight Club #2

Darryll Robson Darryll Robson
Expert Contributor
September 26th, 2017

Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.

Review: Hi Fi Fight Club #2
Comics
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The second issue of Boom Box’s 90’s themed teenage title, Hi Fi Fight Club, is out and our contributor, Darryll Robson, takes a look inside to see what you can expect.

The secret is out and the hunt is on as Carly Usdin’s debut comic continues. Focusing on the central character and allowing the story to revolve around her adds a personal feel to the story, allowing the reader to identify with the character and situation rather than become isolated from it. Ironically, the isolation of the central character is at the heart of this issue.

Synopsis

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New Jersey, 1998.

Chris has just found out about the secret fight club at the heart of the Vinyl Mayhem record shop.  Her reaction is shock and confusion quickly followed by embarrassment.

She is instantly intimidated, especially as Dolores seems very anti-Chris and is also not shy of being verbal about it. However, Maggie convinces Chris to join up.

The team are separated into different groups, each with a task to aid in the search for the missing singer of the band, Stegosour. Chris, however, is left out of the job sharing. She attempts to join in but is shot down by Dolores. Accepting defeat, she excuses herself and returns home, questioning her place in the shop.

A later invitation lifts her mood and leads to a startling discovery.

Credit: Boom Studios

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Analysis

Despite its title, this comic is very much about the character of Chris and how she fits into the world around her. The mystery element is important as a leading plot but it is not the central premise of this issue, it’s something that is happening almost in the background. Issue 2 of Hi Fi Fight Club is about Chris first and foremost.

Carly Uswin introduced the mystery and the excitement of a secret fight club in the first issue, building up the high stakes but quickly, in this issue, she grounds the adventure. She allows the central character to ask the questions that the readers would be asking and then illustrates exactly what it would be like to investigate a person’s disappearance: research and more research. All of this is seen from Chris’ point of view so that there are a number of panels of people’s backs, highlighting that she has been left out of the group.

There is a lot of time focused on Chris with nothing to do, either on the sofa in the secret club’s basement or on her bed at home. It’s not glamourous or constant fighting; this has more in common with watching a police procedural than reading a superhero/vigilante comic. And justly so. Chris is new to this world; she has been allowed inside the inner circle but at the moment she is still an outsider waiting to prove her worth. She also has doubts about whether she is worthy or even wants to be worthy. The concept of fighting crime is a scary one; violence of any nature is scary in real life and this comes across through Uswin’s script.

The prospect of a fight is unnerving for Chris. This isolates her from the rest of the team, which is the theme of this issue. Chris is an outsider, uncomfortable with her feelings and her position. Uswin uses Chris’ inner monologue to make this point to a certain degree but the art work by Nina Vakueva and Irene Flores makes it more apparent.

Credit: Boom Studios

On the opening pages of the comic, Chris is on one side and seen mostly on her own in a panel whereas the rest of Vinyl Mayhem are shown together, filling the panel boarders. The best image to highlight the way the art isolates Chris is at the top of page 2. The image is a head shot, displaying her embarrassment at the way she reacted to finding out the shop secret but it is a page wide panel with a simple pale blue background. There is a lot of cool space on either side of Chris, as if she is standing alone. Contrast this to the next panel which has four characters and a warmer blue background and it is obvious Chris isn’t a part of the group just yet.

This is further emphasised when everyone, apart from Chris, is given something to do. Everywhere Chris turns she is greeted with peoples backs. She is shut out. Superfluous. Even when Maggie tries to engage Chris, Nina Vakueva draws them on separate sides of a sofa, creating a barrier between them. Later in the issue this barrier begins to break down and disappear as Chris confronts and accepts her feeling towards Maggie.

Everything in this issue is superbly designed to show the transition of Chris’ character from outsider to becoming one of the team. By the end she is one step closer and the reader can see this through the artwork. It is an impressive use of the medium to explore a characters inner thoughts which not only relate to the story directly but also to the characters other, more personal emotions. The isolation Chris feels is not just towards the Fight Club but is also reflective of her emotional feelings towards Maggie.

Hi Fi Fight Club issue 2 is an engaging, emotional comic. It has subtle layouts and art that lead the reader through the mind of the central character while advancing the main story. There is a simplicity to it on the surface but that works in its favour. There are a number of layers that are there to be discovered whether that’s through the script, the art or even the color work.

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It is definitely worth spending some time with the Hi Fi Fight Club.

Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he remembers his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson

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