Published on March 17th, 2016 | by Lauren McPhee0
Roche Limit: Monadic #1 Review
Roche Limit: Monadic #1 marks the final orbit of the Roche Limit series created by Michael Moreci in cooperation with Vic Malhotra, Kyle Charles and Matt Battaglia. It follows on from the two previous series, Anomalous and Clandestiny, and the events which led to the downfall of the first human colony on another planet. In Anomalous, we are introduced to the colony, Roche Limit, on the planet Dispater, orbiting an anomaly capable of capturing people’s souls. Meanwhile, users of a drug called Recall become affected by the anomaly, turn into monsters, and the Roche Limit colony is destroyed. 75 years later, in Clandestiny, a military and scientific mission to Dispater goes awry and the crew discover that theirs and previous missions have been part of a plot to deliver a spaceship to Dispater in order to bring the infection from the anomaly to Earth. Monadic begins with Earth already in ruins, but there are a few select survivors who are aware that things are not exactly as they would appear.
Immediately, readers will recognise that things are not as they should be when Alex wakes up on Earth with Watkins standing over him. Alex remembers that Watkins died on Roche Limit, and that he died in space when the bomb implanted in his chest exploded as he flew out of range of Dispater, but he doesn’t understand why they are alive, seemingly on Earth. Watkins tells him that the infections, the demons of the Black Sun are after him, studying him and trying to learn from his behaviour. Alex has to find and destroy the Black Tower. Presumably that will end what appears to be a simulation of Earth and restore things to how they should be.
While Anomalous and Clandestiny can be read as self-contained stories, Monadic utilises so much from the previous series that first time readers picking it up will be confused. The book doesn’t waste time filling the reader in on what’s come before, or on introducing characters we’ve already met. This is because Monadic is Roche Limit, the conclusion. You’ll notice that both previous stories lack conclusion. The events that the characters are trying to prevent happen anyway. Roche Limit had already fallen at the beginning of Anomalous with the death of Langford and the creation of Recall. The Black Sun had already possessed Dispater by the time Sasha and her crew arrived in Clandestiny. Her attempts to destroy the monster and prevent the infection from spreading to Earth have already failed and Earth is in ruins at the start of Monadic. It is all one and the same ongoing story.
The theme of Roche Limit is that to live in dreams of ‘what was’, ‘what could be’, or ‘what could have been’ is seductive, but ultimately, dangerous and futile. If you inhabit your dreams, your memories, or your visions for the future, you end up going around in circles. The open ended nature of the series reflects that as our characters continue to make the same mistakes over and over. Monadic has them literally trapped in a cycle of their own losses and regrets; but over the course of these final five issues, I think we can expect to see those cycles start to be interrupted and broken.
While the first issue doesn’t give too much away, we are given a brief look at where Alex, Sonya and Sasha stand in the world affected by the Black Sun. While adopting generic aspects of noir detective, science fiction and horror, there is an air of psychological thriller to the series in the mystery the characters are struggling to uncover. Kyle Charles’ art is excellent and dramatic, building a feeling of tension right from the beginning. Along with a colour pallet mostly consisting of reds and oranges contrasted with a dark shades, it adds to the oppressive and otherworldly feeling of this ‘Earth’ possessed by the Black Sun. Meanwhile, light and its glow is used as a reminder of the anomaly at the heart of the story, the stealing of souls, and the enticing and enchanting power of dreams and visions. Light can be benevolent, but it can also be beguiling and enthralling.
I am really looking forward to reading the whole of this series as it comes out. And this first issue already has me captivated; the story and the art pulls you in with its enveloping mystery. Fans of the whole series will want to go back and re-read the first two volumes to really enjoy the full effect of the encircling story that’s being told. And if you haven’t read any Roche Limit yet, this is your opportunity. If Monadic, in its enrapturing beauty and intrigue, at all appeals to you, I encourage you to pick this up, along with the two previous volumes, whereby you will not be disappointed by the superb craft and artistry of this series. Roche Limit is a comic that fans and critics alike will be returning to again and again for years to come.