Michael Moreci/ Kyle Charles/ Matt Battaglia/ Ryan Ferrier; Image Comics
A while back, I wrote about “Roche Limit” Vol. 1 and how it is a comic that is meant to be experienced, not just read. It should be no surprise that the second installment, “Roche Limit: Clandestiny” is evoking a similar experience. It’s only two issues into the five issue arc and it’s continually placing the peg higher and higher as it goes along.
I’ve mentioned that one of Michael Moreci’s strengths as a writer is his ability to pace a story. Pacing is one of those tricky skills writers have to possess in order to maintain their stories. It’s what keeps stories from getting ahead of themselves or trailing behind. It is evident that Moreci has complete control over “Roche Limit: Clandestiny” #2. This can be attributed to Moreci’s recognition of the types of stories he’s writing. Knowing and understanding the structure and form of his stories makes the pacing read effortlessly.
This close attention to his story’s structure pairs with Kyle Charles’ pencils and Matt Battaglia’s colors flawlessly in this week’s issue of “Roche Limit: Clandestiny”.
It begins with an upward shot of a darkened building as one of the military team’s explores the city for whom or what shot down their ship. The panels progress in a series of point-of-view shots of the building. Battaglia colors the city with murky tones that show a rundown city. The scene is dimly lit by flashlights and allows for the suspense to crawl down the reader’s spine. Soon we see a black form lurching from on top of a building, ready to attack.
Charles’ pencils are often times scratchy and give some of the forms added mystery. This is contrasted with heavily lined backgrounds that distinctly show movement and action, like the speed of a vehicle or a boar attack. Many of Charles’ panel designs are drawn in a first-person point of view which adds to the overall horror atmosphere that has enveloped Dispater, the forgotten planet.
The action sequences in Clandestiny are paced just as well as Moreci’s script. There is the right amount of built-up tension that looms over the characters before the action breaks free. During these sequences, the action tends to be fast and chaotic, but timed just right. These are no doubt intentional decisions by Charles and Battaglia that help to create the sense of uneasiness, fear and uncertainty that these characters are experiencing. This is the type of decision making that puts readers into the story to experience this with the characters.
The story bounces back and forth between the two groups as they make their way back to camp to rendezvous with the others. Between the inclusions of a flashback and the Hello Danny (or just Danny) robot’s appearance, Clandestiny continues to add layers to the mythos of Dispater and the Roche Colony. It begs readers to question alongside the characters as to what is hiding in the forest and what awaits the team. It asks us what we want.
There’re lots of great sequences in this issue, one of my favorites involve the use of ammonium carbonate to wake an unconscious Kim. The variation of panel layouts and line weight contrasts with the eerie, nearly monotone colors that keep our characters in the dark. It complements Moreci’s script in a way that makes this not just a comic, but an experience. It feeds off of our own fears and alludes to our desires.
Moreci has a great sense of storytelling, not just because he has interesting stories to tell, but because he knows the types of stories he’s telling. This self-awareness of the types of stories he’s telling is what allows him to hold the leash on his stories and gives free range to explore within the bounds he’s set for himself. This creative team’s understanding of their particular form is what makes them such good storytellers. Keep your eye out for these guys. It’s incredible how well this team understands the form they’re working with. Everything from the pacing of the script, the layout designs and panel point-of-views – they know what they’re doing. And what they’re doing is making some damn fine comics.