Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Vic Malhotra
Roche Limit #1 begins with narration by Langford Skaargred, the billionaire responsible for constructing the titular space colony. He speaks of a future among the stars and how he worked toward that, but in the end, life on the colony turned out a lot like life on Earth. As he talks about his work and what it means, we watch a man in a spacesuit get forced out of an airlock and flung into “the anomaly” where he burns up. Next we see a girl named Sonya asking around about her missing sister. She makes the rounds to bars and other seedy places showing off a graduation photo that gets nothing but empty responses from people. When she starts to cause a ruckus in a bar, a man named Alex Ford recognizes the picture of her sister. He follows her out of the bar and saves her from some rough customers by buying them off with a popular drug called Recall. After the leader of the thugs, Warren, drops to the ground and has a bizarre flashback of sorts, Alex takes Sonya back to his place, promising to help her track down her sister. Meanwhile, Gracie, a local club (possibly brothel?) owner tries to beat answers out of a man regarding one of her missing girls. When Alex and Sonya leave his place to go on the hunt, they are accosted by some goons that want the formula for Recall from Alex. He manages to ditch them and get away. We cut to a facility where a man in a lab coat walks among cages filled with women. He speaks vaguely of a procedure, before sedating a willful prisoner. The story jumps to two kids finding a glowing, egg-shaped object. Finally, the issue ends with a two page obituary for the billionaire Langford Skaargred.
Michael Moreci has crafted a story that will feel relatively familiar to fans of the noir genre without being saturated in cliches. The premise, so far, is pretty straightforward: some girls have gone missing and people are asking questions. We begin to see the seedy underbelly of the Roche Limit colony, the drugs and clubs. Moreci opts to set his story in a unique sci-fi setting, but most of the information about it is fed to us through infographics and prose. The reason that this story needs to take place on this space colony, or how it will make this story different, has yet to be revealed. It’s obvious from that opening and closing sequences, though, that the more sci-fi elements will at some point play into the story.
The look of Roche Limit is appropriately dark and dingy. Vic Malhotra makes this look like a noir story, but handles the space and technology elements with equal aplomb. He makes star ships and fiery space anomalies feel right at home in a story filled with bars and characters of questionable morals. The colony is populated with characters that don’t really stand out very much either in personality or appearance. Malhotra does a solid job of showing us how the characters feel, but ultimately the art comes across as a little flat.
The first issue of Roche Limit gives us the beginning of a mystery in a unique setting, but I don’t know if it’s enough to keep me interested. I don’t have any emotional investment in the characters at this point and I’m just not sold on the premise being anything more than a cliche at this point. There’s also a lot of info to take in, but rather than letting the details unfold naturally, we are given blue prints and news pieces. I’m not sure if this is a book for me.