The speed of life threatens to drive Dom off the road as she races to save her father, friends, city, career, and maybe time, in something like that order.
Written by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr
Illustrated by Babs Tarr
Colored by Heather Danforth, Victoria Evans, Ellen Alsop
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
Domino is determined to free her father from the grip of the Producers—no matter the cost.
Judging a book by it’s cover, especially a comic book, is never a good idea. In the case of “Motor Crush” #10, the specific events on the cover depicted don’t happen. However, the cover’s core emotional message, that feeling of speed, looming destruction, and anger are all accurately mirrored in her interiors of the issue. The cover shows Sully and Dom heading downhill very fast, which is fitting for the penultimate issue of this second arc as the tension and sheer amount of stuff, keeps piling on as the comic barrels to a conclusion and readers can only hope the emotional wreckage isn’t as bad as everything appears.
There is a lot going on in this issue and surprisingly it didn’t read as overstuffed or needless. This issue took an extra month to come out but the page count is the same as normal. That feeling of “a lot” is the product of a couple of factors. “Motor Crush” #10 does feature several plot threads slowly colliding together from the rampaging Royal Bastards, to Dom’s search for her father, as well as several more character-based threads. The creative team evokes the relentless pile on effect of simmering tensions about to boil over without going all the way. Within all that stuff happening Tarr, Fletcher, and Stewart take their time to setup and pay off a variety of moments which gives this issue a sense of form. Considering this issue as manic wouldn’t be a bad adjective, but a better one would be melodramatic and how it uses that as a tonal north star for the various ones it works through in this issue.
Much of this issue’s quality comes from how it sets up and pays off little moments. It gives these moments time so they are not just gags. The introduction of Christine, Queen of the Royal Bastards, is one example. It isn’t an especially long sequence, two pages composed of a pretty standard twelve panels. The Royal Bastards are raising hell and attempting to recreate their imperial glory. The only problem being when someone pokes holes in this performance with the arc of history. The writers let this would be Bastard eloquently point out the short-term recession in their gang’s power to the boss, Queen Christine. He was a goner from the start, but in letting him speak it further fills in the timeline and puts Christine over as hardened boss. In taking up that space it also gives this little two pager a real sense of finality allowing it to end on a black panel emblazoned with “whddch.” Which mirrors the start of the scene, a helmet being smashed by a crowbar.
With three colorists listed it’s impossible to know who exactly did what. But whoever made the call to slowly up the luminance of the fire, made the right one. It could never match the sheer solidity of the anime-esque action beats in that sequence, but how it slowly grows and engulfs everything gives the sequence both an excellent sense of continuity, the fire gets worse as Queen Christine gets angrier, and help make those cuts to solid red backed panels not feel out of place. They became a surrealist extrapolation of the environment.
A similar moment that could’ve been a quick gag but is given time to breathe and become something more is Dom’s fight with a rampaging Bastard in the casino. It’s the kind of fodder fight you’d find in an action RPG. For all intents and purposes the fight is a needless distraction from what she really wants: to interrogate a downed. Yet by extending it out we get a couple of nice beats out it. For starters the extended sequence lets Tarr remind everyone why Dom is likely the best at Mario Kart as she hammers the Bastard with the cricket bat. That does make this issue just more violent.. Which is why the inclusion of the Old Gambling Lady as a spectator gives this sequence a much-needed boost of physical comedy. As chaos reigns around her, she is unawares and unperturbed, and in that chaos, she hits the jackpot! Tarr and Rob Haynes break the page down in such a way that the eye is unobtrusively guided by onomatopoeia to the routine of putting the coin in the slot, before pulling out to a triumphant wide shot of money bursting everywhere and enforcers being hit in kind. This comedic beat helps counter some of the heavier violence on the next page and setup a gag a few pages later.Continued below
Like the color job in the first sequence, this one also features a smart pairing of environmental colors with the surrealist ones as heavy actions go down.
These sequences are melodramatic in terms of how aesthetics help to heighten the moment, Tarr, Haynes, and the coloring team do a fantastic job with these sequences, but nothing is more melodramatic than depicting a good cry. This series has changed a lot from where it started, but what makes that sustainable is the writing team and Tarr’s ability to communicate the genuine emotions in these character relationships. The relationship between Dom and Lola has been mostly ‘off’ on the on-again-off-again scale, but Tarr and Co. show how much they still mean to one another. Which is why Lola’s final goodbye (again?) to Dom hits so hard. She’s speaking truth when explaining how Dom’s, perhaps not conscious, fixation on danger and what it brings is too much for her to handle. The same goes for Dom as she talks about the fantastical life they imagined and can have for one another … just as soon as she finishes doing this one last “crankshit” stunt. Tarr does a great job visually representing these two as connected but apart. Their depictions are a study in mirrors. Dom is in a big panel, Lola is in a small one. Dom is shown to be small and surrounded by open space, Lola is claustrophobic in extreme close up. And of course, they’re both shedding tears.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – There is a lot in “Motor Crush” #10 that could’ve been a monotonous exercise in “and then” storytelling, but it ultimately bucks that by giving each moment the right amount of time before it barrels to the next thing.