By Patrick Wolf
One of the years most acclaimed series, Motor Crush has accelerated itself to a top spot with some of the hottest titles of 2017. Now, while I find nothing grotesquely wrong with this verdict, I find myself more-and-more at a bypass with the other critics. The series is entertaining, but it's hardly doing laps around the competition.
Motor Crush is a high-octane motorbike action series that takes place in the not-to-distant-future. The heroine, Domino Swift, is a hard-core motorcycle racer who professionally competes for a mysterious substance known as the ‘crush’ (it’s basically crystallized NOS). But for Domino, there’s more to the crush than just performance enhancement: she needs it to live—literally. To make matters worse, her supply has just been stolen and if she doesn’t get more soon, losing the next race will be the least of her problems.
As I mentioned earlier, Motor Crush has received a lot of critical acclaim. After reading the first volume , I can honestly say I don’t know why. Don’t get me wrong Motor Crush isn’t a disaster. From a structural a standpoint, it’s perfectly fine. My problem is that just as Domino couldn’t quite compete with the top racers in her circuit, so does Motor Crush lack the punch to propel itself into the same league as this year’s top comics.
To begin with, I never feel like the main characters are in genuine danger. I know this is a problem from many ongoing franchises, such as Wolverine and Captain America (you know they’re not going to die), but in a mini-series like Motor Crush this shouldn’t be happening. I should constantly fear for Domino’s life. But no matter what dangers the writing team throws at us, I never believe—even for an instant—that they’re capable of Ned-Starking any of the central characters.
This brings me to my second point: even if Domino were in real danger, I wouldn’t care. This is because she doesn’t have a flaw I can sympathize with: Peter Parker’s a nerd, Spawn’s wife married his best friend, and Captain America’s morality doesn’t align with the law. All of these are examples of character flaws we can identify with. In Domino’s case, however, she’s well-off, successful, and loved. In fact, if she has a flaw, it’s that she’s kind of a kleptomaniac. I’m sorry, but anyone who’s well-off in this economy and still has no problem with stealing (and putting her family at risk in the process) is someone I’m not cheering for.
Unfortunately, these character flaws aren’t even the biggest problem. What really hurts Motor Crush’s chances of out-maneuvering this years competition are the plot paradoxes that stem from its mysterious substance: 'The Crush’. On the one hand, the crush is a banned substance that is condemned by the racing league. On the other hand, the prize of winning a race is literally crush crystals. Not cash. Not diamonds. Crush. It’s like having an Olympic race with the prize being a bar of steroids. Why give the athletes something they can’t use and will get them disqualified?
Other problems have to do with the racers’ motivation for the crush. The racers need crush to win, but when they do win, all they get is more crush. They then use this crush to race and risk their lives again to hopefully win the same amount once more. Is it just me or does this seem like a vicious circle? It’s like digging a hole and filling back up again. What’s the point?
As I mentioned earlier, Motor Crush isn’t a bad series: it’s well-structured, well-paced, and well-crafted. The artwork is also very beautiful. Stewart and Tarr are wonderful illustrators, and Danforth’s colors are spot-on. Where the story lags is in its suspense and heart. The characters are never in real danger and we just don’t care enough for them to have the emotional attachment to keep reading on. Again, Motor crush isn’t bad, it’s just ordinary. Read it if you’re bored and got some time to kill.
Motor Crush vol. 1
Writers: Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr
Artists: Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr
Colorist: Heather Danforth
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics