"Roche Limit: Clandestiny #3" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Michael Moreci
Illustrated by Kyle Charles
2015, 32 Pages, $3.50
Comic released on July 15th, 2015
It's one thing to be stranded on an alien planet where all forms of life – both flora and fauna – are trying to kill you. It's quite another to be forced to battle your own mind as you struggle with what's real around you. This is where Roche Limit: Clandestiny jumps into crazy sci-fir horror and delivers in spades. After their spaceship crashed on the Roche Limit colony on the planet Demeter orbiting a strange anomaly in the sky, the crew is looking for a way home as well as some answers. This colony is supposed to be abandoned. If that's the case, who shot them down?
They're joined by an android named Danny, exiled to Roche Limit after he allegedly killed an infant. Danny is not attacked by the planet's inhabitants, as he's not really alive, so he's able to guide them to safety. He's a very interesting character, as he's a better human being than anyone in the book. The forest that the crew must pass through shows your innermost desires. He points out that the soldiers are mistaken of its dangers because they think everyone's desires are good. There's a great line where Danny tells them, “I've seen a dozen of you humans go into that forest, and not one has returned with a cure for cancer.”
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This is what sets Roche Limit apart in the sci-fi genre. It's not a story filled with hopes and dreams. Humanity reached the stars, but didn't really do much with them. We're not zipping around on jet packs and flying cars. Instead we're just getting by and we're still killing each other. Danny is disgusted by humanity and this wasted potential is perhaps the biggest reason for that feeling. He's not so much angry as he is disappointed. There is a terrific panel towards the end of the issue where someone asks Danny straight up if he murdered that baby. His immediate response is a clenched fist. You can feel the years of pain and frustration that he's gone through in that small square. It's a really powerful image.
Back to the forest, which works similar to the Black Mercy plants often used by the DC Comics villain Mongul. Both take over a victim's mind, showing them an alternate version of the world. While the Black Mercy plants are more of a dreamlike state, the plants on Roche Limit create an entire reality. When you're snapped out of it, you can't tell which version is real because it feels as if you've lived both lives. This is especially trying on Kim, who saw an entire family that she could have had had her life gone a different course.
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The forest is where Roche Limit jumps into the terror department, and it does so in leaps and bounds. After getting a peek at what the mind-altering plants are capable of, things get bloody. This entire scene steadily builds the tension as the crew members head deeper into the forest. Ultimately, we get an unsettling full-page spread expertly drawn by Charles, which you think is the climax of the sequence. The real closure is the realization of what this means for the rest of the team and holy crap is it scary.
Roche Limit: Clandestiny takes survival sci-fi horror to a new level. It's like Dead Space mixed with Alien, with a bit of Blade Runner thrown in. These soldiers are facing true terror and most likely their own deaths. What little hope they have rests in an angry android sick of mankind and its many flaws. There are still mysteries all over this space colony and I cannot wait to find out more.