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Motor Crush Dazzles While Laying Its Groundwork

Motor Crush #1 left me with a lot of questions, I’m not going to lie. I found myself wondering where it was going and what it was building to. Out of the three characters introduced in the issue, one was dead by the end. I wasn’t sure what to expect moving forward, let alone if I’d like it. My fears have been alleviated, though. Motor Crush #2 shows that creators Babs Tarr, Brendan Fletcher, and Cameron Stewart have found their focus (if not necessarily their momentum).

The Story

Motor Crush does not continue the story where its first issue left off. On the final page of that issue, Domino Swift, the series’ race prodigy hero, was seen chugging motor crush while hiding from armed men. I had no idea how to feel about this drug when I read that. Over the course of its introduction, I had seen motor crush be used safely in an inhaler, kill a man by ingestion (graphically, may I add), and be the prize for an illegal street race. Not a single clue what it was actually intended for. This issue’s first evidence of Domino is her waking up in bed.

Her miraculous escape is not explained (to my slight chagrin), but her condition is. There’s the beginning of a “not like other people” theme materializing in the dialogue between Domino and her father. I say “not like other people” instead of the far more cliched “not like other girls” because nothing Domino does is considered that strange. She’s good at racing, but no one remarks on her talent exceeding the usual for her sex. That is ridiculously refreshing.

Domino’s discourse with her father isn’t particularly inspired. However, it does lay the seeds for future mystery. She wants to know where she came from, and why drinking motor crush straight out of a vial didn’t kill her like it seems to do to other people. By the time they were done talking, I found myself just as curious about Domino’s origins as she was.

The issue also takes the time to introduce a supporting cast member, Lola Del Rey. She’s a mechanic/possible ex-flame from Domino’s earlier racing days. The issue focuses mainly on her and Domino running from some bikers. Her debts to the Cannonball (essentially a motorbike mafia) seem to be the motivating factor for the future of the comic. Lola’s strained relationship with Domino and her father will be interesting to see take shape as things move forward as well, as there’s obviously painful history there.

Most of the action of this issue is Domino and Lola racing through the city trying to outrun some bad guys. Domino gets to be a kickass driver and Lola gets to be an effortless techie. Watching the two work together just reinforces the implications of past history, and made me amazingly excited for their relationship to be explored in the future.

The miracle drug motor crush is still appearing in the plot, and it feels the weakest of everything going on. In this issue it’s used by some bikers to speed up their motorcycles. That just confused me more, because now I’m unsure if that’s the intended use or a side effect that no one actually uses it for. I’m really hoping for some cut and dry explanation in a future issue because it’s a confusing aspect to an otherwise straightforward story.

While the story isn’t shocking me, it’s still enticing to see where it will decide to go. Hopefully, it continues to burn rubber and head for the horizon.

The Protagonist

Domino Swift is shaping up to be a character I can point my cousins towards if they ever get curious about comics. Asskicking women of color aren’t exactly being mass-produced in any medium, so it’s great to see some room being made. Her deep affection for those she cares about and willingness to seemingly bury the hatchet over past grievances just work to endear her that much more to me. Her personal growth is obviously going to be a key component as Motor Crush moves forward, I just hope her adventures don’t give her too many calluses.

The Incidentals

I’m mentioning the backup panels that have been at the back of issue one and are now a continuing tradition in issue two as their own things because I am not sure they have anything to do with the main story. I get a very “Curse of the Crimson Corsair” vibe from the two installments that have been released so far. The release formula merely reinforces this vibe. I’m interested, but honestly, there’s not nearly enough there to talk about. Keep an eye on it, that’s for sure, though.

The Art

No way around it, every bit of art is gorgeous in Motor Crush. Character designs are striking with almost everyone garbed in a fashion show hosted by Lord Humongous in Miami Beach. Actions are a blur of motion captured in neon action lines, and something as simple as a kick flows gracefully from panel to panel. Expressions on characters’ faces are full of emotion, reinforced by some gentle line work. I wish I could just stare at these panels all day since not a single one is wasted. Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart are doing something truly distinct with their line work and colors. I don’t have much else to say on the matter because you understand if you experience it for yourself. It’s worth it just for that.

Gorgeous, with subtle character expression. I’m in love with panels.

Verdict

A part of me wants to see Motor Crush continue no matter what because a wlw POC protagonist is remarkably rare as it is. I just happened to luck out and this series is also good. It’s managing to make an extreme sport that normally requires video to encapsulate spring from the page with every flowing line. The creators are obviously still doing the groundwork, setting up an introductory arc that shows all signs of being worthwhile. I’ll continue following their taillights towards a hopefully long-lived future.

Motor Crush #2

Babs Tarr

Brenden Fletcher

Cameron Stewart


Images courtesy of Image Comics
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  • Ian Smith

    After reading issue one, I felt like the art was the real star of the show here. Babs Tarr’s style is as striking and unique as it is fresh and fun. That said, the story didn’t grab me. Based on your review, it might be worth a second look.