(Michael Moreci/ Kyle Charles/ Matt Battaglia/ Ryan Ferrier/ Sarah Delaine/ Tim Daniel; Image Comics)
Roche Limit returns from a short break in just under two weeks with Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1. Picking up 75 years post the events of the first arc, this new number one boasts the work of both a new artist (Kyle Charles) and new colorist (Matt Battaglia). Michael Moreci remains at the forefront of this book and begs for us to explore the lingering effects of Dispater, the always broken, but now nearly forgotten blemish of the MoiraTech company.
The story opens with our lead protagonist, Sasha, experiencing a veil-removing revelation. She’s speaking with her crewmate, Elbus, exclaiming she’s, “Seeing things clearly for the first time in years.” She urges him to go back to Earth to salvage what he can and expose what’s really going on.
While this type of story isn’t an entirely new concept, especially for those familiar with science-fiction, it pulls back layers of Moreci’s writing, both for this new arc and the previous. In an interview I did with Moreci and artist, Vic Malhotra, Moreci said that the while all three of the planned arcs will produce a full story they don’t necessarily have direct influence on one another.
We see this at play in this first issue. Residual effects of the Roche Colony 75 years ago still lurk, only now they’ve had plenty of time to steep.
One of the first things that caught my attention in this new arc is Charles’s line work and Battaglia’s color palette. Charles creates a new Roche Colony than what we’ve experienced up to this point. It’s has a hard sci-fi feel to it. It’s gritty, but not in a noir sort of way. The forms are drawn with heavy lines, but contain lots of lighter, messier lines within to add detail. It adds a cracked, broken texture to the architecture and even to some of the character’s faces. This is especially true in the close ups of the character’s faces where veins, red-eyed from crying and exhaustion are shown.
Moreci wastes no time in providing moments for readers to relate and feel empathy for Sasha. The first scene after the introduction shows Sasha reveling in a video message with her husband and daughter. She smiles and speaks to the green-lit computer screen, but as the scene continues, we learn that she is responding to a saved video message that was recorded two and half years ago.
The screen goes dark and gives the illusion that Sasha is staring out into space. Here is an instance where the combined skill of Charles and Battaglia are in full-force. A three panel sequence shows Sasha trying to hold back her emotions, but is unable to do so. The gestures drawn by Charles are painful and empathetic for anyone who’s been away from family. The scene is heightened by Battaglia’s sad, longing purple tones. These blue and purple tones dwell throughout the atmosphere of the issue. Typically cool colors emit a calming mood, but when used in tandem with Charles’ lines, they convey a sense of uneasiness and stress. They convey Dispater.
We learn that the Sasha’s crew is preparing to land on Dispater. The team is a group of seven individuals sent by an unknown group for a multi-purpose mission to unload cargo to set up a station and research the mines – yes, those mines. Much of the crew isn’t the type of people you’d expect to be sent on important missions, unless those missions are meant to turn sour.. Moreci focuses on Sasha and Elbus the most, seeing as they’re the main characters, but he includes just enough personality into the other members to keep them from falling flat or becoming too expendable.
After the crew crash lands on Dispater, they decide to split up. Elbus and his crew of two, decide to go explore who or what it was that shot them down as they all assumed the planet had been long abandoned. Sasha decides to go and search for the mines to do research.
Moreci includes numerous allusions to the first arc with the inclusion of a dilapidated Dizzy’s and references to the mines while the anomaly hovers in the distance, reddish-orange and impossible to miss. He unties numerous threads for us to follow and try to tie back together. We have no idea what the station is for, but that they aren’t the first crew to be sent back to Dispater. We aren’t told why they need to research the mines, but rather we discover that a forest now surrounds the mines – a forest that shouldn’t be able to grow in those conditions. Finally, we learn of lies and deceit and a terrifying robot named Danny.
Issue #1 concludes with a newspaper clipping that clues us into some more of MoiraTech’s blunders and is a welcomed and appreciated piece of storytelling that boasts Moreci’s proclivity to world building. While I do miss Langford Skaarsgred’s introspective musings, Roche Limit: Clandestiny carries themes of human folly, pride and pushing the boundaries of our ambitions.
And while I haven’t quite got the feel for the pacing just yet, I know Roche Limit is like a good whiskey. It isn’t meant to be shot. You sip it. You take it in. You let the flavors hit all your senses. By the time you reach the bottom of your glass, you’ve had a great experience and you’re ready for more. As Sasha’s crew approaches the forest leading up to the mines, she looks back and asks us, “You ready?” I know I am, how about you?