Published on May 6th, 2015 | by Lauren McPhee


Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1 – Review

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Did you read the first series of Roche Limit? No? Well, come in close… It doesn’t matter. If you haven’t, you can start now. Roche Limit: Clandestiny is out and it’s the same beautiful cosmic mystery under a new name. Set 75 years after the previous series, the Roche Limit colony on the planet Dispater has been abandoned but Earth is still sending expeditions of scientists and military personnel on missions that they are unlikely to come back from. Featuring a new, fuller cast, Clandestiny is more of a post-apocalyptic foray than a detective story, like Anomoly was, but it orbits around the same themes; although, in its cyclic return, this issue could be better described as a re-entry than simply a return.

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Gone are the poetics of Langford, as civilisation is gone, and in place of a prologue, we get Sasha. She won’t give us lamentations; instead, we get hard truths. Their mission was a lie. Roche Limit is not what they expected and a lot more dangerous. But Sasha is under no delusions, as she says: ‘I’m seeing this clearly for the first time in years’. In the face of horrors we don’t yet know, she is cool and calm, and while there is sadness in the desolation around her, there’s determination also. Entering into this story feels like a crash landing. One that you are not walking away from.

Michael Moreci’s writing really lends itself to this story, as it did to the previous one, through the construction of character and setting. Sasha has a little of Alex Ford about her, only she comes off as a great deal more capable. Yet, in her introduction, we watch her cry to the dated video messages of her family and feel compassion for a woman who shows strength in the face of her losses, perseverance and commitment to her mission and her teammates and even a little humour in the midst of horror. Similarly, her sidekick, Elbus, is a complimentary cut of cynical wit and tough business.

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Meanwhile, Moreci gives us a tense band of characters providing framing for the narrative in the form of squints and ‘mercs’, appropriately stifled from their love journey and who bounce energetically off one another. When the ship is shot down over the planet, the crew separate, at once to venture into the old city in search for however fired a missile at them, and also towards the mines, around which an inexplicable forest has grown up. Like the introduction to a horror movie, the first issue gives us all the detail needed to get situated and get attached; it lures you in with small oddities and snappy one liners. Where Anomaly was the fair of science fiction and film noir, Clandestiny has all the genre makings of sci-fi horror and plays its hand tightly in a first issue that both sets up the game and grabs your attention.

This story is complimented beautifully by the art of Kyle Charles. The lines are intricate and branching, marked in all levels of thickness like a wild growth on the page. It’s entirely fitting as Roche Limit is changed from a dingy colony into an eerie deserted outland, reclaimed by nature. The images are lornful on the page, marred by cracks, trailing lines and dark shadows. From the sprawling insides of the ship, to the abandoned Dizzy’s and the sprung up forest, the landscape of the pages is inexplicably alive and creeping.

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Meanwhile, the Roche Limit colour pallet has shifted. From the sour toxicity of the colony, the vaporous greens of overindulgence and debauchery have been overwhelmed by blues and purples. As the colour moves from cold to warm, there’s an odd sense of both longing and healing as if there is a poison that has not yet been cleansed from the planet. The tones are mysterious, mournful and spookily beautiful. Matthew Battaglia strikes the perfect match with Charles and Moreci in constructing and rousing the new life of Roche Limit and its evolution is both menacing and beautiful to behold.

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If you enjoyed the first series, or if you are a fan of science fiction horror stories, or if you just like reading good and gorgeous comics, you should be reading Roche Limit: Clandestiny. Honestly, it doesn’t take much to get into this story and you can trust that it’s going to be well contained and held together, with characters you can get behind, a mystery to engage you, and artwork to enthral you. Altogether, Roche Limit: Clandestiny is small-scale cosmic wonder and terror orbiting around a tight mass of storytelling, short and sweet, but densely packed and powerfully effective.

Lauren McPhee
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