The high-octane, action-packed Image Comics series Motor Crush has been one of the most exciting new books of 2017. Following a talented young racer named Domino Swift, the series explores her exploits as she learns more about her own past and her connections to the mysterious fuel-drug known as "Crush." It takes place in a world reminiscent of Speed Racer, but smarter and with more grease and bubblegum ... and if you haven't checked it out already, you absolutely should.
The second arc of Motor Crush kicked off earlier this month in issue #6, with a flashback story about Domino's dad, Sully, and his struggles to do the right thing while keeping his young daughter safe. It sets up the next exciting storyline, which sees Domino return to Nova Honda, after being mysteriously missing for two years.
SYFY WIRE caught up with the creative team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr — also known for their groundbreaking work on Batgirl of Burnside — at Portland's Rose City Comic Con to ask them a bit about the latest issue, the book's artistic evolution, and the future of the series.
So check out the interview below, along with Tarr's covers for issues #6-8, as well as Stewart's cover for #7, and let us know what you've thought of Motor Crush so far in the comments below!
The most recent issue of Motor Crush was a little bit darker one for the series, it was a flashback for Domino's dad. We see that he's maybe a little more ethically grey character than we might have thought at the beginning of the series. What has building his character arc been like?
Brenden Fletcher: Sully's one of my favorite characters in the book. But I wouldn't say he's in an ethical grey zone, I think he's willing to do whatever it takes to protect his daughter.
Cameron Stewart: And ultimately, he sticks to his principles. He's put in a situation where they threaten his kid and his friend's kid and he feels like he's got to try and do this, but at the end of the day he remains true to himself. He's like, "I can't do this." So I think he's not really grey at all, I think he remains pretty morally purposeful.
BF: He might flirt with some notions with doing things that are against his morals to try to save his daughter, but he decides he's going to try to fix everything. And he loses as a result.
CS: Typical man. [Laughs]
This was also the first issue that wasn't from Domino's perspective, is that something you're planning on doing more of in the future, maybe a Lola-centric issue?
CS: I really like it in a series when — either in television or in comics, or whatever, any long-running thing — where you do get an aside. Where you learn a little bit more about a character. I think those are really interesting and provide a kind of a breather from the rest of the series, but in a way that deepens what's already there. And the thing is—this might seem like an aside, but you'll eventually see that we've laid the groundwork for a lot of major plot points in the second arc that are introduced in this story. So it feels like this feels like kind of an inessential flashback thing, but it's actually the first part of arc two, it just happens in flashback.
This is also the first issue you've fully drawn, Cameron. You've done layouts and covers before, but was it fun getting to dig into the characters for a full issue for the first time?
CS: Yeah! I mean, it's not the first issue I've drawn, I've drawn every issue, it's just the first one I've drawn to completion, rather than just doing the storyboards for. But yeah, it was fun. One of the things that Babs has been doing in the previous issues, that she always said, was that she didn't want to be precious with the drawings. She wanted it to be loose and energetic. And so that's something that I was trying to do in this as well, was to keep it artistically consistent with the rest of the series. I obviously draw differently than Babs does, but I tried to just be a little freer and looser with the drawings, and add that same kind of quality to them.
I did really appreciate that about the issue, is that unless I was really paying attention or didn't know ahead of time, I may not have noticed.
CS: Right, it's the same storytellers, so it does still feel consistent throughout it.
And it said in the back of the issue that Jake Wyatt is going to be doing layouts for the next one. What does he bring to the table that might make it feel different than if Cameron were laying out the issue?
Babs Tarr: I think Jake is more into manga and anime, which is what I grew up on, so I feel like he brings a little bit of that to the table, whereas Cameron's like your traditional comics. It's different, but like not necessarily better or worse, it's just fun to have someone new and bring fresh blood to it and stuff. It's one of my favorite issues, both content and art-wise.
CS: Issue seven, it looks great, it looks really good, Jake's done a bang-up job on it.
BF: And legitimately, like I was just saying on the panel, when I read through the linework for the first time and got to the end scene, I legitimately got choked up. We wrote this story together! I knew this was coming! Jake really handled the emotional content really, really well.
BT: I teared up. I teared up drawing a page or two of that book.
CS: I have a heart of stone, so I was like, whatever.
So is bringing in other artistic collaborators part of the plan going forward?
CS: Yes, I'm actually sort of stepping back from doing the interior storyboards, just because I have other stuff that I'm going to be pursuing. So we're going to bring on … it's still kind of TBD, it could be someone consistent, it may be sort of a rotating roster of people.
BT: We'd like to keep Jake, but he also has a full-time job directing the new Invader Zim movie right now. […] So he's not doing eight, but he's probably going to jump back on for nine and ten, hopefully.
CS: We have Rob Haynes coming up for issue eight, who's also an amazing artist in his own right. And he was doing a lot of the storyboarding for Gotham Academy as well, so he's not even a stranger to our group.
BF: And didn't he work on us a little on Batgirl too, back in the day?
CS: Yes! That's right, he did do some Batgirl stuff.
BF: So it's the same sort of formula as how we worked with Batgirl. Then, Cameron did the layouts for Babs over the first arc, and then stepped back to focus on Fight Club, kept writing with me, but we had people like Rob come in and do layout work. So it's worked really well for us in the past, and we're really excited for this collaboration in future issues.
So you probably can't say too much about the next arc, but …
BF: The thing with Image is, we can tell you the whole thing! There's no Image publicist preventing us from revealing these secrets!
CS: Domino dies. Straight up. [all laugh] That's it. That's the end.
Well I guess as cryptically as you can, then, what's something new from the second arc that we haven't seen thus far from Motor Crush?
BT: Well I think the focus is going to be less on racing and more on Crush itself, and its origins and the mysteries behind that. And also Domino's origins.
CS: Yes, that! [Laughs]
BT: I write a little bit too sometimes, guys. [Laughs]
CS: And also, the entire status quo of the series has changed, because Domino has leapt forward in time two years. For her it was the blink of an eye, but for everyone else she was gone for two years. So people have moved on, the pieces on the board have completely moved around, so it changes everything. Her life is consistent but everything else has changed around her and she's gotta figure out how to wrestle with that.
Motor Crush #7 is on sale October 4 from Image Comics. Art by Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart.