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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