By Ulises Farinas
“Think about how big the world is,” writes Ulises Farinas on the inside front cover of Motro’s first issue. The brief note appears to be handwritten in every copy of the book. It’s a small print run, of course. The mini is, for all intents and purposes, something of an teaser for Farinas’s Act-I-Vate strip of the same name, pulling together the first several pages of the online series—an teaser, mind you with a fair amount of thought put into execution, with a fold-over cover that opens to reveal the titular hero lying unconscious in a pool of his blood. Closed, the puddle makes up the deep red of the single letter “M.”
The quick reveal soon proves an overarching theme for these first pages of Motro, the inside cover inscription more foreshadowing than friendly philosophical aside. Pulling back the proverbial camera to reveal a larger world is a something of a reoccurring motif for Farinas. The first few pages begin simply enough, centering around a young native in a bloody but heroic battle with a fierce lion. He takes a beating, to be sure, replaying the gorey scene hidden beneath the front cover flap, but his actions prove bold enough for him to be deemed the legendary Motro, by his father, the chief.
More forced heroic antics ensue—after all, such is the fate of a chosen one. The newly-christened chosen one is made to do battle with a giant legged coelacanth-like fish. Here Farinas truly pushes his fragile linework to its limit, packing every panel with a tremendous amount of visual detail, swirling and pushing the space to its breaking point as the young warrior tears the head off the giant fish, releasing countless numbers of spawn into the dead waters of the lake surrounding them.
And with that, Farinas give us his first major reveal, forsaking his newly minted reality for a trip to “The Bizarre Place,” a surrealist landscape far outside the parameters of the tribal world on the preceding page, but still, at least for the reader’s sake, defined by its language. Again the moment affords Farinas the opportunity to test the outer limits of his linework, and he does so admirably on the three-quarters of a page that he allots himself to set up this new world, with swirls of water and an army of fantastic new animals.
Soon, however—the next page, in fact—another layer is added to the mix. Farinas introduces himself—or rather, an artist character, bespectacled and bearded, claiming to be “the master,” as he cartoonishly surfs his “tiger of destiny.” It’s a quick leap in a meta realm that is tough to reconcile with the storyline, especially this early on in the proceedings. And it’s exactly where Farinas leaves us at the end of his mini, beckoning us to continue the story online.
It’s certainly a tempting offer. The artist has thrown a lot at his reader in an incredibly short page count, with some elements easier to stomach than others. But the story, along with Farinas’s expansive artwork, seems to make the point that Motro was attempting to make all along—the world is large. Too large, certainly, for an single mini to contain.