Roche Limit: Vol. 1
Michael Moreci (Writer), Vic Malhotra (Illustrations)

Image Comics, 2015

Well, it was bound to happen eventually: an Image series that is almost a complete dud. It's built on an intriguing sci-fi concept. Roche Limit is a colony located on the cusp of a mysterious energy anomaly, a melting pot of crime and terrible secrets. When Bekkah Hudson goes missing, the search to find her plunges her sister, a group of the colony's underworld figures, and scientists investigating the anomaly into an odyssey that may involve the future of mankind.

So the story has classic crime noir elements. A woman done wrong, a cop sister out to find her at any cost, an asset who turns out to be her former boyfriend--and all of them character types with little development beyond those cliches. While there are secrets revealed and some twists (mainly due to the science in the story), at heart it's a predictable story.

Malhortra's style reminds me a bit of Michael Lark: basically realistic, with generally simple backgrounds. Unfortunately he's not nearly as skilled, committing such basic errors as unconvincing facial expressions and awkward physical movements in the characters. He does do creative layouts, and the construction of quasi-objective background documents is effective (these include PowerPoint diagrams, magazine articles, and reports, Watchmen-style).

Add in stiff dialog and light lettering that is very difficult to read, and you've got a somewhat uncomfortable reading experience. Despite the impressive world-building, for the first time in recent memory I was tempted to bail before the end. But it's only five issues, so I stuck it out to see the ending. I'm not sorry I did, but I doubt I'll be back for the other two volumes in the trilogy.

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