By Brad SunThere’s something strangely familiar about the fanciful world of Motro. From its Mad Max inspired band of marauders, to its beautiful and lonely vistas that invoke both Mœbius and Miyazaki, Motro is a a dreamlike mash up of writer and artist Ulises Fariñas’ unique pop culture-infused subconscious. It’s a fitting backdrop for a comic that, despite all the fantasy trappings and dystopian future world building, is at its heart a tale of lost boys playing dress up.

Along with co-writer Erick Freitas, Fariñas tells the story of a mysterious and tormented wanderer journeying through a dangerous and stark frontier. But the harshness of this snow-covered landscape is balanced with welcome infusions of humor and whimsy. There’s a little bit of Adventure Time in the childlike logic of Motro’s setting. Characters speak in simplistic, exclamation point-heavy sentences. Sentient military tanks and motorcycles are treated like beloved childhood pets. And for all their deadly menace and gory fisticuffs, there’s a lot of tears shed by the (all male) cast of monstrous weirdos.

Indeed, there’s an arresting vulnerability in the strange and grotesque man-children that populate this first issue. Even as villages are pillaged and heads bashed in, they speak longingly of the lost father figures they wish they still had. By the book’s end, all the cruelty and death the raiding antagonists dole out reads like the behavior of desperate and scared children acting out in the only way they know how.

Fariñas’ art splendidly captures the tale’s mix of dystopian tropes and childlike sensibility. His action is fast and punchy, his staging cinematic and often stunning, and his character designs strike just the right balance between ghoulish and cute. Colorist Ryan Hill uses a simple, iconic palette to compliment Fariñas’ line art and further capture the perversely naive nature of the book’s characters and setting. In the end, it is this intriguing subtext, and the confidence of  Fariñas execution, that elevates Motro to a unique place that is greater than the sum of its influences.

Oni Press/$3.99

Written by Ulises Fariñas with Erick Freitas.

Illustrated and lettered by Ulises Fariñas.

Colored by Ryan Hill.

8 out of 10