Written by Alisha Weinberger
If Fist of the North Star had a baby with Mad Max that then grew up watching Adventure Time, you would get something like Motro from Oni Press. At the request of his dead father, a nameless boy wanders the post-apocalyptic waste with his talking toy motorcycle to protect the innocents from raiders and their sentient war machines. A simple premise and a simple archetype, but the world building of Erick Freitas and Ulises Fariñas’ is anything but.
Like most apocalyptic landscapes, we’re given very little explanation as to how the world came to be. Fariñas’ world, a snowy nuclear winter, is actually kind of quaint and quiet (an unusual contrast from his work on Judge Dredd). However it’s quite an appropriate match for our protagonist. Unlike the many Snake Plisskens and Conans, the hero of Motro is just a boy. No rippling muscles or hyper masculinity. So it would make sense that our hero’s landscape is soft toned, charming, and maybe even cozy. The unusual choice in landscape goes greatly with Fariñas’ character design, whose villains are misshapen and hideous. Going as far as giving one particular raider a literal block head, while his compatriot is aware of it.
With that noted, the world of Motro doesn’t take itself too seriously. Afterall, how could you in a world full of talking tanks and motorcycles who eat like animals and communicate via emojis? Dialogue is kept brief and quirky, allowing readers to soak in Fariñas’ art and the occasional shock of violence and gore.
Motro #1 is a short but sweet issue, and a tight start to a series. The story doesn’t progress much past the introduction of the hero. Fariñas gives us a small gem, a landscape better suited for hardened men but traversed by a boy who just wants to live up to his father’s promise. It’s a post apocalyptic coming of age story, and although violent, it doesn’t revel in the bloodshed. If unfamiliar with Fariñas stylings, fans of Andrew MacLean or Brandon Graham should certainly check out Motro. However, Fariñas’ work is comparatively reeled in for this issue, either due to its brevity or the barren landscape, which is usually accustomed to sprawling mega cities. All the more reason to anticipate the next issue.