COMIC BOOK REVIEW: ROCHE LIMIT VOL 1: ANOMALOUS / ARTIST: MICHAEL MORECI / ARTIST: VIC MALHOTRA / PUBLISHER: IMAGE COMICS / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 7TH
There’s some artist/writer combinations in comic books that seemed to have been written in the stars themselves, be it Jack Kirby and Stan Lee or Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. Roche Limit sees the perfect pairing of writer Michael Moreci and artist Vic Malhotra, and Volume 1: Anomalous marks the first in their masterful sci-fi noir series.
The narration is devastating, which charts the last recordings of Langford Skaargard, self-styled adventurer, eccentric and billionaire. After delivering on his promise to take humankind to the stars, his dream becomes a cruel reality. Roche Limit, a grubby colony floating on the edge of an enigmatic anomaly, is a cyberpunk microcosm of organised crime, drug trade and terrible secrets. Alex Ford, chemist-cum-drugs manufacturer, is the only one who knows how to produce the existential high-inducing recall, which enables users to relive moments in their life of pure joy and happiness. After Bekkah Hudson goes missing, Alex, her boyfriend, and sister Sonya go up against troubled figures of the colony’s deepest underground and onto a discovery of what our future’s worth.
Moreci’s writing reads like Douglas Adams and Ray Bradbury with all the self-assured intellect of Isaac Asimov and Phillip K. Dick. With the sharp dialogue recalling pulpy noir exchanges while avoiding genre pitfalls altogether. He carefully balances plots, beautifully woven together for a satisfying and resonating conclusion. Philosophical, theological and full of barbed diatribes and biting social commentary, Moreci’s writing has the perfect accompaniment in Malhotra’s art; sketchy, dark, foreboding and with a Frank Miller edge. There are some truly outstanding panels, where he demonstrates his space-scapes are second to none. Together they’ve created a fully realised world that is at once familiar and esoteric. At the end of each issue is supplementary material which ties directly into the narrative, be it a newspaper article or a magazine piece, each add a sense of effective realism.
Despite its grim look at the future, Roche Limit is no less beautiful, no less full of wonder and marvel. It’s a powerful metaphor for drug abuse, for sin and redemption and, of course, god. For a fix of cerebral, introspective sci-fi, it’s not cinema that’ll nourish you, it’s Moreci and Malhotra.
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