By Dustin Cabeal
There’s a lot of weird shit in Motro that I enjoyed. Things like raising vehicles like pets until they grow up and you can ride them or how old people revert to the size of babies, but still manage to walk around. Weird has never bothered me and usually is a huge draw for me.
The problem with Motro is that that story isn’t weird enough, and it’s one that I would dub the reluctant king trapped by his own destiny. I have just summed up the entirety of Motro for you minus the character moments that define any story. As weird as the elements in the story are, the plot itself isn’t weird enough giving a strange disconnect between the two.
Then there’s the artwork, which is brilliant, but also full of weirdness. The art grabs you and makes you want to find out more about this world and why the people look the way they do. It’s detailed and yet kind of soft and goofy looking. There’s another disconnect here too. The art seems almost comical at times, and I admit when I originally read the first chapter/issue of this series, I laughed and enjoyed most of it because of the humor. What I discovered when I read the rest of the book was that in no real way was this story trying to be funny. It’s actually a depressing tale, but not one that the art successfully captures from beginning to end. There are times that it amplifies the mood or sets the tone, but it always looks a bit comical.
Let’s talk about the strengths of the book for a moment and continue with the artwork. It’s clean and crisp with coloring that looks animated. This is some of my favorite style of coloring because it makes the comic and the world look so vibrant and real. No, the images aren’t photorealistic, but there is so much detail put into those simplified faces. That is a true mastery of artwork because everything looks incredibly easy to illustrate until you try it yourself. Artist’s will get what I mean instantly, but just look at Motro’s face, and you’ll see that in all that simplicity is a very detailed character.
As for the story, what does work quite well is the overall journey for Motro, even if it does feel out of place with the world. It’s still well told, up until the ending. I didn’t care for the ending, but the rest was well-plotted and managed to give all of Motro’s background without overbearing narration or pointless exposition. It was subtle and something that you needed to pay close attention to while reading. The dialogue at times was fantastic, and other times, it was generic but effective.
I wouldn’t put it past the creators to try and experiment and push these boundaries, but with any experiment, there’s successes and failures. Motro falls somewhere in-between. It weirdness makes it something worth checking out, but in the same swoop, the reluctant king storyline isn’t something new or even that different. It teeter-totters between new/exciting and familiar/average, but unfortunately the last page defines where it lands.
Motro vol. 1
Writer/Artist: Ulises Fariñas
Co-Writer: Erick Freitas
Colorist: Ryan Hill
Publisher: Oni Press