Published on October 15th, 2015 | by Lauren McPhee0
Roche Limit: Clandestiny #5 – Review
The fifth issue of Roche Limit: Clandestiny is out this week and it marks the end of the second, cyclical series, created by Michael Moreci, Vic Malhotra and Steve Seeley, and centred around an anomaly that feeds on the greatest longings and desires of the human soul. At the end of the last series, the Roche Limit colony ended its four year life-span in death and destruction as users of the drug Recall reacted to the anomaly’s effects, turning manic and monstrous. Perhaps the deadly creatures that haunt the old city of Roche Limit in Clandestiny are those same colonists, in service to a monster spawned of the anomaly. And as the monster attempts to travel back to earth to feed on the souls of humanity, perhaps Earth’s future will come to resemble that of the Roche Limit colony.
In keeping with themes of repetition, cycles and returns, as this series comes full circle, we return to the opening scene of issue one in which our protagonist, Sasha, vows to remain on planet and kill the monster. Meanwhile, the remains of the thirteenth expedition, Elbus and Colt, along with A.I. Hello Danny, need to stop a ship that emerged from the anomaly from bringing the Black Sun to earth. In the conclusion of this series, it is possible to make out the ways in which Clandestiny talks back to its predecessor series, the ways in which it looks forward to the final series to come, and perhaps most importantly, how it stands apart as its own contained story.
One of the great strengths of this series is Sasha, and how she figures as a unique character driving this story. In many ways, she is more evolved than Alex and less of a mirror, in that she is more of her own person. Her motivations remain strong and relatable throughout the series: she both wishes she could have saved her husband and daughter, or died with them; she joined the expedition to Dispater both hoping to discover something to make the world a better place, and to escape it. In this issue, she recites a poem by Walt Whitmen, “Gliding O’er All”, about the voyage of the soul and the many deaths that it must endure. The line she forgets to include is, “As a ship on the waters advancing”; that’s the one Langford would been most drawn to, perhaps. His story was about scientific progression, the soul’s drive to advance, to achieve, and to reach the ultimate destination. Sasha accepts the death of her soul’s desire when she chooses to stay on Dispater and destroy the monster, rather than succumb to visions and dreams of the life she has lost.
The horror elements of this comic serve to stress the monstrous nature of those obsessions which will ultimately corrupt us. The art maintains the harshness of reality, but not over and above the eeriness of Sasha’s husband’s attempts at manipulation; in Sasha’s final confrontation with him, he loses his face and becomes a half-image of what she desires. The forest grown up around them encloses the trapping nature of what he offers. Then the monster appears and its thick lines, like charcoal, paint it as both a machine and monstrosity, like something from a nightmare. But if dreams can take on the feeling of reality, so can reality become horror. That doesn’t make it any less real.
Meanwhile, the colours of this issue, for the most part retaining a pallet of blues, purples and pinks, start to become erratic, with splashes of variance in yellows and oranges entering into the panels. These spots bring a sense of urgency and impact to this final issue, highlighting moments with a more vivid quality. Paint escapes the boarders of the page, especially towards the end as the art takes on a more painted, impressionistic style, capturing Sasha’s final moments. Overall, it is extremely beautiful, with Kyle Charles and Matt Battaglia really outdoing themselves on this issue. It is a subtle change from the earlier issues but it makes all the difference in highlighting the chaos at the end of the series, with a ship once again taking off from the planet Dispater, and a protagonist appearing to float into the void.
Accepting what’s real and what is an illusion we maintain can be extremely difficult, especially when all of our hopes and desires are invested in a fantasy. Roche Limit: Clandestiny is about the futures we don’t envision for ourselves because we choose not to, because we are trying too hard to bring about the desires of our hearts and minds. But the thing about destiny is that it’s unavoidable, as is reality. To live only for impossible dreams is to be lost. There is horror in reality, but life too, and many deaths. And from here we await the third and final series of Roche Limit, ressurected in February 2016, in which I believe we might see some of these themes and issues brought a little closer to home.