The first volume of Roche Limit came to a close with a literal and figurative bang. It broke our hearts in two while leaving us craving more. Thankfully, Michael Moreci is bringing us more of the epic science fiction series and our souls are so ready to jump back into the world of drugs, violence, space, murder, magic, and mystery. If you have not been reading this Image Comics series, you have made a huge mistake, one that you need to correct by immediately purchasing the collection of Roche Limit volume one.
Volume two of Roche Limit has the subtitle Clandestiny and it appears to be a sharp departure from what came before. Roche Limit doesn’t stick to one genre. It haunts the same space, a colony where man has struggled to build a new home, but the story itself shifts. Volume one started as murder mystery, before taking an abrupt turn into existential horror and left us adrift, the fate of a world unknown. Clandestiny starts long after the end of the last issue, with a whole new cast of characters and a whole new feel. But the place – that dark, lurid place – is relatively the same. Quite simply, there is no escaping Roche Limit.
To get the real scoop on Clandestiny, we had a few words with writer Michael Moreci and the new art team of Kyle Charles and Matt Battaglia. When you finish up reading this, get your butt to the store and order the Roche Limit trade paperback that hits finer comic shops 3/25. It’s only ten bucks and you won’t regret it.
N: So, judging from the first issue of Volume Two, it looks like Roche Limit is making a major shift in both look and feel. How different is Clandestiny going to be?
MM: That’s an awesome question. I guess it’s all about perspective and what you got from the first volume. I know that’s a bit of an obtuse answer but, really, if it was the characters you were invested in, as a reader, then Clandestiny is going to feel really different (but with new characters to love, I promise); if you were digging the thematic stuff, then Clandestiny is a going to feel like a natural continuation of what’s been established so far. The common thread, for sure, is the place and what Roche Limit, as a series, has promised so far—strong characters, cool sci-fi, all grafted on some deeper existential questions.
N: The first five issue have major Blade Runner vibe, that sort of street level science fiction. What works are influencing this second story arc? So far, it almost has an Aliens feel.
MM: Aliens for sure—nail on the head right there. I think there’s some Prometheus in there as well. It’s funny, because until I started Roche Limit, I never knew what a Ridley Scott fan I was. Blade Runner might be my favorite film of all time, but I love the Alien franchise as well.
Also, you have some Lost in there, in the sense of having a cast of characters arriving at a mysterious place that maybe—just maybe—they are supposed to be for a specific reason.
N: Roche Limit is billed as a trilogy. Did you conceive the whole thing from the beginning or was it fleshed out after the success of volume one?
MM: If I was a smart man, I would’ve kept quiet about the whole trilogy business until after issue #1 came out. I could have milked this for some ongoing money!
Kidding, kidding. Yes, it was a trilogy from the start. I’ve known exactly where the series is heading from the start. Granted, I’ve discovered some things along the way, which is one of the most exciting things about the process, and I continue to grow the story out. I think it might extend beyond the proposed 15 issues by a few, but nothing like a whole new volume. The deeper I’ve gotten into the plot and these characters, the more I’ve realized that I may need more space to tell this story the right way.
N: The art from issue six looks amazing. How did you go about bringing the new art team onboard and can we expect another team to step in on volume three?
MM: Man, Kyle Charles and Matt Battaglia killed issue one. It’s gorgeous. And, man, they had huge shoes to fill with Vic [Malhotra] and Jordan [Boyd], who did a brilliant job with volume one. In a sense, though, Kyle and Matt are a better fit for volume two—Kyle’s layouts and Matt’s color selection make the entire thing feel like a dream*, which is so perfect for Clandestiny.
*It’s not all a dream, I promise!
N: One of my favorite things about Roche Limit is the back matter packed into each issue. You do a lot of world building in there. Will this continue through the whole series? And is this stuff in the collect of is just for the single issues?
MM: Absolutely. That’s one of my favorite parts, and it’s such a testament to the dexterity of the comics medium that you can build your world in such a tangential way. I think the extras that have been included, and will continue to appear in future issues, tell a really neat story that enhances the overall Roche Limit experience. And that’s a word I choose very specifically—experience. I want reading Roche Limit to be more than just a comic you pick up, read, and toss in a longbox. I want people to go back to it, to see the tapestry of story and theme that folds in on itself, how things that were seeded in issue two come to fruition in issue five, and so on. I want to push my storytelling, and the medium to, uh…the limit.
N: You’ve been putting out stuff all over the place, from Planet of the Apes books, to a new Hoax Hunters, to Burning Fields, but you always refer to Roche Limit as your baby. What’s so special about this series for you?
MM: I’ve been very lucky to work on the projects I’ve been associated with. Very lucky. But Roche Limit is a book that means so much to me, personally and professionally. I’ve said this before, but the book got accepted at a time where I was ready to quit comics—I was so down and out, and having the chance from Eric Stephenson to take on this strange, ambitious project saved my career. Not only that, but no other book really identifies me the way Roche Limit does, politically, personally, or spiritually. I’m not a very candid person online—most of my public persona is related to my work (or fast food) — and it’s my work that represents who I am. No book does a better job of this than Roche Limit, and I’ll always feel like, when all this is said and done, I’ll be happy to have left this piece of me behind as, I’d like to think, a message of hope and inspiration for people who think similarly to me about life, death, and beyond.
N: Question for the art team — coming on the book with issue six, did you guys look a lot at the first 5 issue or were you give a clean slate to build on?
Kyle Charles: I was a fan of Roche Limit before I jumped on the title, so I was caught up on most of volume one by the time I started the book. But this next arc is definitely a clean slate in relation to the cast and story. Matt and I had a lot of room to expand and explore, Mike was completely open to our interpretation, while paying attention to certain details from volume one. It’s a chance for anyone who has read books one through five to continue on with the Roche Limit universe and a great entry point for new readers.
Matt Battaglia: Other than having read the first five as a regular fan, I tried to refrain from looking at it once I started working on the book. Something that Mike was really keen on with this volume was making sure a new reader could pick it up and not have to worry about catching up. There were a few things that we had to color check for continuity’s sake, but outside those few items, we created a wholly new experience for readers.
N: What science fiction do those guys draw influence from? The color hues – soft purples, harsh oranges – mixed with detailed line work really make for a wholly unique experience.
KC: I’ve been drawing inspiration mainly from Moebius, Katsuhiro Otomo and a bit of Robert Valley. Stylistically, those are definite influences. As for sci-fi, undeniably, the Alien franchise has been a source of inspiration. Some older anime like the Lensman and Akira have been rattling around in my head. It’s also difficult not to have Giger in the blood stream. I don’t know where Matt comes up with his palette, it’s amazing though. His colors bring a completely unique look to Roche Limit.
MB: I was generally pulling from things like Moebius, Blade Runner, Alien and Aliens, Thief, the title sequence from Taxi Driver, and I know I re-watched True Detective while working on the issue. My goal was to get the atmosphere right, so I aimed to give the book something of a hazy dream-like quality, and just make sure that each scene had its own feel, so the ship is greens and blues and cold, whereas the planet is hot and scorched.
Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1 hits comic shops this May. Check the preview below and then go preorder a copy.