Motor Crush #1 Invites Readers on a Thrilling, Unforgettable Ride

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Motor Crush #1 Invites Readers on a Thrilling, Unforgettable Ride

Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr — the dynamic team behind DC Comics’ critically acclaimed “Batgirl of Burnside” relaunch  — have returned with a brand new, creator-owned series: “Motor Crush.” Starring motorcycle racer Domino Swift, their collaborative work spins a story of fame and fortune unlike anything you’ve ever seen before in independent comics.

Worldwide motorcycle racing leagues are the way you make a name for yourself in the world of “Motor Crush,” and — when you’re the daughter of a famous racer — it’s almost like you don’t have a choice in the matter. Domino Swift spends her days at her father’s mechanic shop, avoiding requests for interviews as she gears up for a big race. By night, she enters illegal, brutal bike racing wars against rival gangs to gain possession of a rare, valuable mechanical narcotic known as Crush. It’s a hot commodity in the racing world and a dangerous addiction for a bike to have. This adrenaline-filled life catches up to Dom quickly when a familiar young man is rooted out out of the crowd for snooping and brutally forced to ingest a tube of Crush, leaving nothing behind but a bleak smear of guts.

There’s just enough time to register what’s happened before readers are swept away into the belly of this underworld, where Domino runs into a bit of trouble, which provides a perfect opportunity for Babs Tarr to take the audience on an unforgettable, high-speed chase. These pages display her insanely kinetic talent, with a style reminiscent of racing anime like “Akira,” “Initial D” and “Speed Racer” and the softer gradients and palettes of a josei series like “Sailor Moon.” It’s a contrast that works well, especially for the tone of the series.

“Motor Crush” feels like an effortless blend of the talents behind the book. Every panel will leave readers breathless, while every sequence and beat leaves them in anticipation. Stewart, Fletcher and Tarr work together to create a gleeful fluorescent adventure, but carefully pepper the reader with hints of the gritty underground surrounding Crush and the dangers of motorcycle life.

Fletcher and Stewart deliver a headstrong protagonist in Domino Swift, writing her as smart, sleek, determined and thrill-seeking. Her supporting cast is just as interesting, from her father — a former pro-racer with a prosthetic leg — to her turquoise-coiffed “rival,” Sonoya Vermilion. Every detail is addicting and deliberate, building one hell of a world for readers to enjoy in upcoming issues.

Bold strokes and even bolder lettering from Aditya Bidikar keep the eye trained on the action, whether it’s a sweeping blow from Dom’s blunt weapon during a street race or the revving of her bike as she leaves behind a few unsavory figures. Stewart’s layouts only emphasize Tarr’s designs and allow her to stretch her wings as the excitement unfolds. Tarr unleashes everything she’s got and it’s fun to watch her push her boundaries with flashes of electric hues and trailing tail lights. Altogether, “Motor Crush” feels like a love letter to anime, or at the very least an amalgam of the very best of the genre.

Stewart, Fletcher and Tarr invite readers on a dangerous and thrilling roller coaster of a story in “Motor Crush” #1. They deliver a first issue that’s intent on taking you for a non-stop ride, and the story barely pauses to let you catch your breath. Hold on tight; there aren’t any seatbelts in “Motor Crush,” but you’ll want to come along for this ride.

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Star Wars Annual #2 Grooms A New Character Fit For Future Stories

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Star Wars Annual #2 Grooms A New Character Fit For Future Stories

Kelly Thompson and Emilio Laiso introduce a brand-new character and make her the focus of “Star Wars Annual” #2, and still manage to pair her up with a long-established character while squeezing in appearances from a few others.

Pash Davane – or Bash, as she is called, for good reason – is an engineer-turned-janitor who lost her livelihood thanks to the war between the Galactic Empire and the Rebellion, and has taken a staunchly-neutral stand in the galaxy-wide conflict while blaming both sides for the destruction left in the conflict’s wake. Thompson delivers a well-constructed character intro that’s framed around a fun and punchy story that’s lively rendered by Laiso, and even sneaks a well-disguised but important moral by story’s end.

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Mike Mayhew’s dynamic cover spotlights the more-familiar Princess Leia, and Leia’s mention in the trademark introductory scrolling text belies the importance of Bash’s role in the issue. Make no mistake, though; the story is hers, and Leia just appears in it. In fact, her appearance would have stood as a genuine surprise as laid out by Laiso, had it not been telegraphed ahead of Bash’s own introduction. None of this impacts Thompson’s story, though, which is confidently constructed, organically building Bash’s character throughout the issue.

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Bash’s world of Skorii-Lei is introduced as one of the many battle-scarred worlds across the galaxy, with her existence lying in the shadow of a wrecked Star Destroyer. It’s a landscape not unlike that seen on Jakku in “The Force Awakens” and one that readily would have lent itself to a widescreen, double-page spread, but Laiso condenses it onto the introductory page with no less effectiveness. From there, Laiso’s focus is on Thompson’s characters, most notably Bash, who gives her a noticeably physically intimidating presence. With her look established, Thompson then lays the groundwork for her background and her nature, making her disdain for the Alliance and Empire alike blatantly clear within the span of a few pages.

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Her disdain for the Rebellion, and even Leia herself, is deftly balanced by her concern for the injured Leia’s well-being, even at the expense of her own personal safety. This is where Thompson brings depth to her new protagonist, by showing that her isolationist position doesn’t equate to heartlessness. The essence of Bash’s personality is laid out in preparation for the next phase of Thompson’s story, which initially focuses on the conflict between Bash and Leia, but gives way towards establishing their own alliance.

Their alliance leads to trust, which in turn leads to a momentary shift from Bash’s character to Leia’s, as Thompson takes the opportunity to emotionally examine Leia’s own motivations and past choices. It’s a moment that begins to turn Bash and Leia’s partnership into a friendship, despite the chasm that remains between their philosophies. It’s enough of a bond that lets Bash’s truly heroic nature break through, as she goes beyond risking her safety to risking her very life to help not only Leia, but her request to help the Rebellion.

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In the era following “A New Hope,” Bash herself finds hope in observing the actions of Leia and her Rebel family. Thompson conveys a sense of inspiration at story’s end, as Bash’s commitment to a side in the galactic conflict almost serves as a call-to-action to anyone reading the issue; an implicit call that carries relevance during such a politically divisive time. The issue-ending hopeful note caps off Bash’s transformation from a neutral non-entity into a well-thought out character who stands ready to participate in future storylines.

“Star Wars Annual” #2 succeeds in the mission that most annuals try to fulfill; it’s a different kind of story but features enough guest appearances to make it special. Unlike most annuals, though, this one carries some relevance by introducing a character with some true potential.

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