At the center of Image Comics’ stylish new series is Domino Swift: confident, gutsy, and just plain cool. Swift is one of the best motorbike racers around. Backed by her racer-turned-bike-shop-owner father, Big Sully, and tech-smart ex-girlfriend, Lola, Swift competes in the prestigious World Grand Prix (WGP). By night, however, she secretly races in the illegal bike wars known as The Cannonball. Winners of these brutal races, of which eliminating other riders with chains and bats is normal fare, win vials of the sought-after, engine-boosting stimulant, Crush. Swift has won more races than anyone.
The use of Crush is controversial and dangerous, and highly illegal during WGP competitions. Human ingestion results in…well, let’s just say messy explosions of the cranial variety. But despite these unpleasantries, Swift is hell-bent on collecting as much of the drug as she can—we don’t learn why until later in the story. When her stash of Crush goes missing, she breaks into the facility holding the stolen contraband and attempts to steal it back, barely escaping a pack of goons on color-coordinated bikes who chase her through the city’s dark streets.
From here, the action never stops. We learn that Swift is adopted, and that her father refuses to tell her how he came to adopt her. We also learn that Crush may have something to do with her origins, and that a menacing shape in the sky is looking for her. There is very little resolution by the end of volume 1, and the last few panels end in a surprising twist that had me looking for volume 2 immediately after reading. (Thankfully, it was released in May 2018.)
There are a lot of things I love about Motor Crush; most of them involve Domino Swift. Big name comic publishers are getting much better at diverse representation and inclusion these days, but it remains a rare and refreshing treat to see a strong, black, queer female taking the lead to the effect that Swift does in this series. She can be rash sometimes; she’s not perfect. But she’s also not stupid. Most of the scrapes she gets into are because she believes in her abilities, and this is a quality more teens (and adults) should have a chance to see in media.
Created by the team behind Batgirl, vol. 1: Batgirl of Burnside (Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr), Motor Crush is an action-packed, thrilling ride (pun intended) that seamlessly integrates loving, albeit complicated, human relationships into the fast-paced world of motorbike racing. I recommend this title to teens and adults who enjoy Batgirl, Paper Girls, or Monstress, or to readers who are looking for more titles with strong female leads and exciting artwork.
Image Comics gives this title a “Teen Plus” rating, though the images are mild in comparison to network television. In one scene, a character caught stealing Crush is forced to ingest it and his head explodes. This is as graphic as it gets, though there is general fighting among racers and the use of the word “shit.”
Motor Crush, vol. 1
by Brenden Fletcher
Art by Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr
Image Comics, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: Teen Plus