Published on September 22nd, 2014 | by Lauren McPhee


Roche Limit #1 – Comic Review

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The prologue to Roche Limit sets the tone to this comic, as narrated by Langford Skaargred, self-proclaimed adventurer, eccentric and billionaire and man responsible for the Roche Limit Colony. In building his way point in space, located on the edge of a unique anomaly, Langford aimed to set a precedent for space exploration and human progress all in keeping with his role as idealist dreamer. It was meant to represent humanity’s future, a destination playing on the word destiny, only Langford has to remark on its failings for in a cruel twist of fate, Roche Limit has proven to be its own dark opposite. The future has stalled and as Langford remarks, took steps sideways instead of continuing forwards.

What we are entering into, then, is a dream that has soured and the images carry the taste of it. Vic Malhotra’s art has the dinginess of noir and yet lends itself to the rough expanse of space by imbuing it with a harsh beauty. Jordan Boyd’s colours give the comic the intoxicating flavour of excess and debauchery while also retaining a touch of dreaminess. The colony of Roche Limit has been overtaken by cynicism, greed and villainy and is home to unchallenged drug use, prostitution, torture and missing persons. Meanwhile, Langford hasn’t been seen for over two years and yet he is with us as narrator, warning us to beware of best intentions and the branching of choices, as a young woman is kidnapped and brandished over the anomaly to some unknown end.

This woman’s name turns out to be Bekkah Torin, and her sister Sonya has since come looking for her. She’s stern and persistent but other than her concern over finding her sister, we don’t know much else about her other than she’s a police officer who sold up in order to pursue her own investigation. Meanwhile, the locals of Roche Limit aren’t being very helpful and no one will admit to having seen Bekkah, nor even seems interested in looking at her picture. It’s also interesting to note that the art similarly takes this kind of noir, side glancing approach; a lot of the time, figures or faces are obscured, or the angle is that of an outside observer, as though the reader is a lone participant of the colony.

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Then when Sonya ends up in a bar, one customer takes particular interest in the picture of Bekkah he happens to oversee. While Warren of the ugly purple shirt and fedora is propositioning Sonya to come and talk to his boss, Mr. Moscow, in his own charmingly intimidating way, our overly typical snarky, blond scamp of an anti-hero drinks up in order to pitch in on her behalf by offering Warren a drink. There’s a bit of antagonistic banter and so-called “Alex Motherfucking Ford” pulls out a zip lock of shiny, purple drugs which he offers to Warren’s goons. The drug is called Recall and Warren isn’t having any, except he is because Alex laced his drink and added an extra dose of hallucinogens. What follows is a trip enough to make you cringe.

In the absence of Langford, Alex seems to be taking on his role in part. He draws parallels by his invocation of “god damn choices” as he drinks up, and by virtue of his name. Also, through his resourcefulness of language and ingenuity. And in return for his help, Sonya attacks Alex until he admits his intention to help her find her sister. Sonya is the one with the short fuse here. As they partner up, she is the more aggressive and direct, while Alex whiles his way through situations. As Sonya and Alex prepare for the hunt, packed with drugs, cash and a handgun, we get a touch more insight into Alex. Although he denies any knowledge of her, and makes up a story of a missing brother to avoid Sonya’s suspicions, Alex hides a photo of him and Bekkah in his bedside table.

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Meanwhile, another case is ongoing. Harsh looking, one-eyed Madame Gracie is missing a few of her girls and it seems like she’ll go to extremes to get them back. This is where we get to see a bit more of the moral complexities ongoing in Roche Limit and more to the mystery of the missing people. Another side plot involves the so-far illusive Mr. Moscow and his lackeys who want to shake down Alex for his recipe for Recall. And somewhere where the lights are bright and we get a good look at everyone’s faces, a couple scientists have Gracie’s girls locked up for experiments while Bekkah walks like a zombie as part of the mystery involving her interaction with the anomaly.

Roche Limit is a comic that deals in dualities, in memory and imagination and the nature of choices. Michael Moreci has created a murky detective story that traded in touch of its noir quality for a dash of dreaminess, and the two merged to create a hard-boiled future on the brink of wonder. From Langford’s narration, it’s easy to imagine what he sought to build, and the intention is something I think we can all relate to. But then, so is how it all fell apart, as too often things seem to do in real life. What we’re left with are questions on top of the ongoing plot. What happened to Langford? What is the anomaly? Can this dream be salvaged? Truly a story for crime and sci-fi fans alike.

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Title: Roche Limit

Publisher: Image Comics

Writer: Michael Moreci

Artist:  Vic Malhotra

Lauren McPhee
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