"Roche Limit #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Michael Moreci
Illustrated by Vic Malhotra
2014, 32 Pages, $3.50
Comic released on September 24th, 2014
The future is filled with possibilities. We're told at a young age that we can grow up to be anything we want. That's true, as long as you set the bar pretty low. Roche Limit shows us one possible future in which we've reached the stars, however the same problems that plague society have followed us there. The shining beacon of hope that was the Roche Limit Colony has been corrupted into a den of greed and indulgence.
Writer Michael Moreci quickly outlines the world of Roche Limit. The colony sits just outside a mysterious energy anomaly out in space. No one knows exactly what it is just yet. Meanwhile, a new drug called Recall has been developed using a mineral found on the planet Dispater, where Roche Limit is built. The colony was created by Langford Skaargred and currently houses at least 10,000 people, but there is not an exact count of the population.
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Moreci and artist Vic Malhotra have created a city of crime and filth. People have gone missing. Drugs run rampant. Gangs rule the area. These are streets that Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe would feel at home...if they lived in space. Alex Ford is in his element on Roche Limit, but he's having trouble with some of the locals. He decides to help a woman find her sister and gets in further trouble. This may seem like a typical private eye story, but it's so much more. There are hints to some far more sinister dealings on this colony that go much deeper than your average noir tale.
Malhotra's artwork showcases the feeling of a futuristic noir story. Despite reaching the stars, humanity is just as depraved as it has always been. The same vices that haunt us now go on to do so in outer space. There's a blend of present day architecture with space age advances within the lower levels of Roche Limit, as if the advances in technology haven't been fully integrated amongst the "have nots" just yet. You know how the Jetsons lived in buildings that were crazy high in the sky? Roche Limit is what I imagine the world looked like below those tall spires.
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There's a mob boss named Gracie that appears for only a few pages within this issue but makes an immediate impression. She is tough as nails and clearly a force to be reckoned with on the colony. Her left eye is gone, replaced with a disturbing mound of scar tissue, as if it was burned right out of her skull.
Roche Limit has been described as a cross between Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey. While I loved the former, I was bored out of my mind by the latter. Fortunately, the comic is a healthy mix of science fiction and good old-fashioned hard-boiled pulp. It perfectly captures this sense of despair that comes from the human race no longer trying to advance itself. There's a great line towards the beginning of the issue that reads "We were taking steps sideways, not forward." That sums up the feeling of this place pretty well.
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