Former boxer Maurice Goldman leads a miserable and lonely life, working as an enforcer for the Mob. If it wasn’t for the superpowers keeping him alive, he’d have called it a day long ago. Just as work is making Mo’s life even worse, a chance meeting with a stripper named Dora might just give him something worth living for.
The introduction to the seedy world of Motor City Mo is shocking, with main character Mo attempting suicide. It’s a bold move, to broach the subject of superpowers by immediately showing their downside, but Mo is a man at the end of his tether and it’s quickly made clear that the .38 he fires into his temple isn’t his first attempt at ending it all.
This first issue of Motor City Mo’s five part arc provides a tour of Mo’s world and the deeply unpleasant characters who inhabit it. Mo might be the lead, but each of these people is the main character in their own story, too caught up in their own lives to be surprised or concerned by Mo’s situation. When a job gone wrong fills Mo with bullets, his neighbour is more concerned with the stain on the carpet. Meanwhile, the gangsters or strip club managers treat those around them as objects.
A comic written by three guys which focusses a large part of its attention on the inside of a strip club might cause some concerns, but there’s nothing sexy about Mo’s world. Scenes backstage in a dressing room are as angry and confrontational as being trapped inside a car with motormouth mobster Rizzo. When Dora is displayed for Mo’s entertainment, its really the foul behaviour of the club manager which is on show.
It’s a tough and uncaring world, but a jet black humour runs through the comic. At one stage, a wonderfully subtle Canadian uber driver steals the scene with his politeness. Mo’s later scenes with Dora, which might feel lifted from a cliched rom-com on their own, bring light to the whole comic, which had been almost unrelentingly dark to that point. Mo, who could have just been an angry thug, is given more character in these gentle scenes.
Art by Ryan Tavarez, with colours by Michael Sammler, creates an evocative and detailed grubby world of dirty apartments, alleys and dive bars. A wide cast of characters are quickly given individual and interesting personalities.
Some dialogue heavy scenes are well handled by letterer Shannon Esper. An extended scene inside a car, as three characters wait to begin their violent work, is packed with a little too much dialogue, but the sudden flurry of balloons just adds to the feeling of claustrophobia. There’s also a great use of sound effects at more quiet moments.
Originally funded by a $4000 kickstarter and now available from the Three Y’s Men Media website and from some independent comic shops, part 1 of Motor City Mo is an intriguing introduction to the brutal world of Maurice Goldman, just as his life is about to become even more dificult. It’s a well put together comic which hits all the marks with regards script, art and production. A kickstarter for part 2 is planned for September this year, and we’ve no doubt it will be hugely successful.