By Stefania Rudd. In the opening frames, bold white letters: “New Jersey, 1998”. Chris, 17 years old, frantic, running. She’s late for something. As the panels move along she bumps into (literally bumps into) her coworker at a record store called Vinyl Mayhem. Alright, Hi-Fi Fight Club, you got me.
As I was once a music obsessed similarly-aged teen in the late Nineties, I already know this book is gonna speak to me. And as I continued through the issue, my initial gut reaction kept finding validation.
Through characters like Chris, Carly Usdin has crafted a well-rounded and vivid world. Being the first issue we are only just getting the lay of the land, but Usdin provides us the particulars in such a way that the story charges ahead instead of getting bogged down with exposition. Chris is our point-of-view character. Her eyes are fresh and so are ours. I really love the way Chris introduces these characters to us, their personality traits stated frankly, but nervously. Through Chris, it very much feels like we are diving into the middle of something new and exciting.
Chris is new to all of this. She feels there is something a little off about her new job, which is easy to do when the rest of the staff is so secretive about their overtime work. Chris’s suspicions escalate when an in-store appearance from a cool band gets cancelled because the lead singer is missing. It’s then that the store manager, Irene, reveals that the store is just a front for their real business: a secret teen girl vigilante fight club.
Nina Vakueva’s pencils, combined with Rebecca Nalty’s colors and Irene Flores’ inks, are a perfect visual for Usdin’s story. Each character has their own unique style. Their personalities shine through the artwork. Their faces emote everything from joy to concern to embarrassment to pride throughout this issue with relative ease, giving them a naturalism that’s evocative of books like Giant Days. The color palette is bright, bold. It feels real. It feels fun.
Hi-Fi Fight Club #1 is an excellent first issue. It will hook you, it’ll resonate with you. It’s a book designed to get you stoked, to crack your knuckles and pump up the volume. Dive in.
BOOM! Studios/BOOM! Box/$3.99
Written by Carly Usdin.
Pencils by Nina Vakueva.
Inks by Irene Flores.
Colors by Rebecca Nalty.
Letters by Jim Campbell.
9 out of 10