Roche Limit #1
Michael Moreci (@MichaelMoreci)
Vic Malhotra (@VicMalhotra)
Colors – Jordan Boyd (@jordantboyd)
Letters – Ryan Ferrier (@ryanwriter)
Review by Joey Braccino
“But as a man much wiser than me once said, ‘so it goes.’”
Pitched as Blade Runner meets 2001: A Space Odyssey, Roche Limit #1 is a gritty, trippy sci-fi noir from Michael Moreci and Vic Malhotra. While those may be stylistic influences on the new series from Image, tonally Roche Limit reads more like a Vonnegutian version of Fear And Loathing. And it’s spectacular.
In a not-so-distant future, billionaire investor Langford Skaar pours money into constructing the Roche Limit colony inside Dispater, a dwarf planet right on the edge of an energy anomaly (semi-sorta black hole-ish thing). Despite his initial optimism and idealism regarding the future of mankind in the stars, Roche Limit ultimately becomes a decadent cesspool of sin and drugs. Our story is set about twenty years after Roche Limit was founded, and Moreci and Malhotra quickly thrust us into a missing-person story straight out of a neo-noir flick. Sonya Torin is scouring the seedy underbelly of Roche Limit for her sister, Bekkah, when she runs afoul of mysterious gang boss, Mr. Moscow. In true noir fashion, an amoral drugrunner anti-hero, Alex Ford, steps in to help Sonya, and the two embark on a mission to find Bekkah and uncover the nasty truths of the colony.[There’s also a bizarre cliffhanger that I literally could not figure out, so if anybody knows what’s going on there, holler at me!]
Moreci’s script is delightfully eccentric. As I mentioned, there is most definitely a Blade Runner vibe going on, but there is also a distinct vein of Absurdism, Humanism, and Fear & Loathing trippiness throughout. For every moody musing on divergent roads and the autonomy of humanity and responsibility and all that, there’s a drug-fueled hallucination or a campy, colorful brawl. The duality of free will and fate is woven into the depictions of drugs and flesh and violence. Alex Ford’s “choice” to help Sonya feels at once absolutely random and yet, given the context, perfectly destined. Moreci seems deeply interested in this, lending Roche Limit a thematic weight that other sci-fi stories may eschew for more visual elements.
That isn’t to say that the visual experience is lackluster; in fact, Vic Malhotra and Jordan Boyd deliver a detailed, pulpy aesthetic a la Sean Phillip’s work on Criminal, except with a more futuristic color palette. The thick inks and gritty naturalism is washed in neon greens and bright pinks and stark reds rather than heavy greys or shadows, making for a stunning, strange sci-fi feel.
BUY. Roche Limit #1 is quintessential sci-fi noir that soars with lofty concepts and a subtle quirk. Moreci and Malhotra have a very clear notion of not only the mystery of their story, but also the meaning of their story, and that thematic core permeates every element of the debut issue. Image has another winner on its hands with Roche Limit!