Best Shots Review: MOTOR CRUSH #1 (10/10) 'Fully Realized & Stylishly Brutal'

"Motor Crush #1" panel
Credit: Babs Tarr/Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher (Image Comics)
Credit: Babs Tarr/Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher (Image Comics)

Motor Crush #1
Created by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr
Lettering by Aditya Bidikar
Logo, Publication Design, and Graphic Captions by Tom Muller
Published by Image Comics
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

Credit: Babs Tarr/Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher (Image Comics)

The Batgirl of Burnside team return with a fully realized and stylishly brutal world in Motor Crush #1. Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr, whose contributions to the debut blend into a slick miasma of influences ranging from world outside our window science fiction to high fashion, capitalize on the grassroots excitement garnered from their convention exclusive zero issue, making this debut a hotly-anticipated one that delivers in every possible way.

Though clearly influenced by all sorts of outside sources, Fletcher, Stewart, and Tarr’s work quickly becomes laser focused as the trio introduce readers to leading lady Domino Swift and her dual lives; one as a rising star in a sanctioned motorcycle racing league and the other as a vicious combatant in high stakes back alley Road Rash like street races. Jam packed with attitude and subtle world-building, Motor Crush #1 roars onto shelves with a debut issue just oozing with swagger.

Credit: Babs Tarr/Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher (Image Comics)

Right from page one Motor Crush #1 offers more than just a story about motorcycles and the people who ride them. Instantly readers are greeted by the bold captions of Tom Muller, whose work is all over this debut issue, coyly setting up the overall reality TV and video game like make-up of this world. Evoking the look of touchscreen info panels, Muller’s captions add a steady set of sly information streams for the reader, filling in small, but important gaps in the script’s setting. But while Muller’s captions are an important tool for this debut, the action displayed in the panels proper is all Fletcher, Stewart, and Tarr’s pure id poured across the pages complete with chalky neon colors.

Muller’s captions fill in the fringes of this world, however, he is working with a full set of tools thanks to the creative trio. Anchored by the flowing pencils and intricate sartorial design of Babs Tarr and tightly blocked layouts from Cameron Stewart, the three waste little time getting readers right in the thick of this world with little to no lead up, much to the title’s strength. Motor Crush’s world is already completely set in this debut issue and judging by the trio’s breathless pace during this #1, they can’t wait to show it to you. Readers will be quickly charmed by series lead Domino Swift and her icy confidence both on and off the track as well as her almost gleeful charging into the fray during the issue’s climatic and cinematic ending race. The three even manage to include a dark, emotional twist into the proceeding after the dust has cleared, giving this debut all the tools it needs to connect with an eagerly awaiting audience. Blessed with plenty of style and a well crafted execution, Motor Crush #1 stands as a finely tuned machine just waiting for readers to try a test drive.

Credit: Babs Tarr/Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher (Image Comics)

By while all three members of the creative team bend over backward to sell the hook of the series, Motor Crush would not be what it is without the artwork of Babs Tarr and page layouts of Cameron Stewart. Tarr’s fiercely beautiful and androgynous Domino guides us through a world of fast bikes and compulsory rider interviews conducted by floating robot cameras. This debut plays heavily into Tarr’s strength for character design as well as Stewart’s keen eye for set pieces, all while allowing her to explore a vast science fiction sandbox through background and vehicle design.

As if that wasn’t enough, Tarr’s colors absolutely nail the punk rock tone of this debut. Neon pinks, electric purples, and a wide variety of blues and blacks wash over Tarr’s tight but rounded pencils selling the near future world almost as well as the ShadowRun-like slang the characters use throughout the script. The artwork for this series wrote a check for itself back when the #0 issue was being passed around through a convention hall. Thankfully, Motor Crush #1 cashes that check with interest.

Melding cyberpunk, haute couture, and bloody cricket bats, Motor Crush #1 is a high octane debut from a group of top tier creators. Image Comics has a well earned reputation for allowing a mainstream creative team room to explore whatever ideas and visuals they wish and Motor Crush #1 is another example of how good of a book that kind of mentality can produce. Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, and the whole production team of this series have made their world and now they get to play in it. And we, as the readers, are the real winners for it.

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