Written by: Michael Moreci
Art by: Vic Malhotra
Published by: Image Comics
It’s not like there’s a shortage of science-fiction in comics these days. But is it really possible to have too much of a good thing? “Roche Limit #1” by Michael Moreci and Vic Malhotra is a strong debut for this new series which certainly has the feel of a noir crime story set in space. More importantly it nails the character beats necessary to engage readers on an empathetic level, even if it relies a bit too heavily on clichés. Malhotra’s visuals do the story justice and, like the script, really nails the characters with consistent renderings of faces and expressions.
For a science-fiction debut this had a lot less in-your-face space opera elements than I expected. This isn’t a bad thing because it lets the story stand on its own merits, but in the coming issues we need to be shown why this story needed to take place in space. Gradual exposition is difficult to do with comics. But when done correctly it can be a really welcome change to just pulling the rug out from under a reader.
The most impressive piece of the narrative is the strong hook of the characters. It’s easy to understand their struggle and the opening monologue by the station’s founder, Langford Skaargard, lends a justification for their concern and violence, as he explains how his dream for a new Enlightenment in space died in the crib.
As a mystery we’re given just enough to invest and become interested but not so much that it’s obvious where we’re going from here. Roche Limit seems like the kind of story that is going to answer not just why Bekkah’s sister was taken but for what, presumably nefarious, purpose she was taken for. And that’s how you craft a very intriguing first issue, an achievement that is the pinnacle accomplishment for Moreci.
One of the major concerns I had about this book leading up to its release was whether the art would be able to reach a high enough quality to sustain it. Creator-owned comics, despite the seemingly endless amount of critical praise they seem to garner, have a very tough time outselling even mid-level Big Two series. Malhotra gives the book an air of authority that’s utterly crucial to its survival in a very competitive market.
This was one of the most pleasantly fulfilling debut issues I’ve read in a while. It met my expectations and then went a little beyond that. The series has a great look and feel and while it doesn’t break too much new ground it manages to reach a level of quality that makes its more conventional story beats digestible. The opportunities to deepen the mystery and our love for the characters is ripe for the taking with this excellent debut from the creators.
“Roche Limit #1” earns 7.7/10