A simplistic but wildly fun and gorgeous start to this high-octane dystopic racing comic.

Review: PETROL HEAD #1 – Robots, Start Your Engines

From writer Rob Williams (Judge Dredd; Suicide Squad) and artist Pye Parr comes a high-octane take on a dystopic used-future story in Petrol Head #1. This simplistic yet effective first issue will catch readers with its absolutely stunning art and keep them wrapped up by the surprising amount of charm its main characters bring to the table. With a lot of heart and phenomenal visuals, Petrol Head rips off of the line with its opening chapter.

“In a climate crisis-ravaged future metropolis, an old, grumpy, obsolete, smoke-belching, cigar-chomping, HOTROD-RACING ROBOT is one 12-year-old girl’s only hope. Together, can they outrace the chasing Robo-Cops with an invention that might just save humanity?”

Writing & Plot

Post-climate disaster stories are a dime a dozen in the comics medium, so it’s fortunate that Rob Williams gives readers one with heart and genuine charm in Petrol Head #1. After the world has become largely unlivable, humanity is forced to live in large domes cities that are governed by extremely powerful robots. Petrol Head, our titular protagonist, is a retired racer from what was once the most popular form of entertainment in the dome – auto racing. After witnessing his friend and mentor destroyed in a race, he proceeds to live out a quiet life on his own. But when a young girl and her father seek refuge in Petrol Head’s garage from the robotic government, his life gets a bit exciting once more. The double-size length of this comic allows Williams to give readers extra time and himself extra space to get the tone and characters down. Petrol Head himself immediately feels like a perfect part of the world he is in – a worn-out being on a used-up planet. His quiet, gruff nature pairs perfectly with his partner, a small robotic bird with a smart-mouth. The pair have a back-and-forth similar to The Goon and Franky, and they’re a ton of fun to read. The young girl and her father – a scientist trying to improve the lives of the people living in the dome – add more to the world itself of course, but really make for an interesting wrinkle for the protagonist. Petrol Head, like most robots, has no reason to care for humans. Bots have only ever been entertainment, so why should he care about what they’re trying to do? This thread going forward will no doubt be fascinating to watch, and it’s great to see how multi-layered of a story Petrol Head is turning out to be.

MFR ON YOUTUBE (latest video)
Help us reach 5K Subs!

On a more personal note, Williams posits a conundrum that hits a little close to home for me. As someone who is conscious of the direction our environment is headed, simultaneously being an automotive and motorsports enthusiast is a strange headspace to occupy. In its own way, Petrol Head #1 is a love-letter to the best parts of our reliance on the internal combustion engine, with an old racer trying to make sense of a world that has no want or need of him anymore.

Art Direction

So much of the charm in Petrol Head #1 is created by Pye Parr’s visuals. He does incredible work bringing lifelike emotion to robots that have a limited way of expressing themselves. There is a slightly Transformers-esque approach to how Parr draws his bots, with their facial animations have more range than what is normally seen in robotic faces in comics (see Ramondelli’s The Kill Lock). The rest of this world is incredibly well-detailed, and the action sequences explode off of the page. Parr’s work here has hints of Geoff Darrow, with his ability to emulate the detail of realism but still have the fantastical visual approach a fun comic needs. Much of this stems from his use of thin pencils with very little shading, instead letting his color art do much of the dimensional work. Parr’s sequential direction uses a cinematic storyboard approach to plot events, giving the story an even pacing that picks up right when the action starts. His colors perfectly capture the used, hyper-industrialized metropolis of the done city within the arid wasteland. Parr’s vivid palette is often tinged by the smoggy atmosphere and colored by the red sun poking through the polluted air outside the city. Parr’s lettering is also stellar, with his eye-catching SFX work highlighting the action without overtaking anything in the panel. Overall, Pye Parr has drawn one of the finest-looking Image comics of this year.


Petrol Head #1 is a surprisingly charming and visually stunning debut issue. Rob Williams’s double-size script does stellar work in introducing readers to his gruff but lovable titular protagonist and sets up what is sure to be a surprising and fun story. Pye Parr’s artwork is absolutely phenomenal, with great character animations and detailed panels making for a reading experience that explodes off of the panel. Be sure to grab this new #1 when it hits shelves on November 8th!


Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.
A simplistic but wildly fun and gorgeous start to this high-octane dystopic racing comic.Review: PETROL HEAD #1 - Robots, Start Your Engines