Zeb Larson reviews Roche Limit: Clandestiny #2…
Elbus and his military crew form an unlikely alliance in their rush to flee the city. Meanwhile, within the forest, Sasha and the science team’s expedition comes unhinged.
As the two separated groups struggle to survive on the planet, they learn a little bit about Danny and just what it is that makes the place so dangerous. The danger is twofold: the planet twists a person’s desires and fears, but it’s also home to some dangerous creatures that will kill you the old-fashioned way. This issue continues the series’ intelligent and cerebral storytelling by asking whether the things we desire are actually bad for us. I will be discussing spoilers in this review, so consider yourself forewarned.
The mercenaries in the city find themselves under constant attack from the creatures there, one of which kills Lee. They only escape with the aid of the android Danny, who helps them escape and tells them that they will only make it off the planet with his assistance. Dany was sent here by MoiraTech instead of being euthanized. Elsewhere, the other team wanders near an Earthlike-but-alien forest when one of the researchers, Kim, is concussed. While unconscious, she hallucinates a girlfriend and a child that she doesn’t have, and when she wakes up she’s so violent that they have to knock her out again. Danny refuses to offer many details for the group, but he does let slip that the forest is dangerous because it lets people see what they really want. Despite the warning, Stockton heads there at night, when the issue ends.
The last issue of the first volume showed those creatures feeding on people’s souls, and it seems that this is the end result. However, that does not explain the presence of the forest, and how that forest can manifest the things people want. What is it about a place where we can project our desires that makes it so dangerous? Perhaps it’s the confluence of desire and regret, because if we can create the things we want much of that will be the things we feel we missed. That certainly seems to be what happened to Kim. Danny says that he’s safe precisely because he can’t dream, which means he can’t be bothered by the forest. What does that mean for the rest of us?
Yet there’s also some good plot material here aside from the philosophical points. In the back matter, Leland and Stockton are revealed to have pioneered deep-state psychology that allowed people to delve deeper into their subconscious fears and desires. So what is Stockton doing on this mission, given that he only appears to be a psychologist? It seems that MoiraTech is still trying to figure out the anomaly, so they brought Stockton along to try and help them solve it. If the anomaly helped to reveal a person’s soul, clearly they want somebody else to be able to study it. One can only imagine that their plans to use the soul would be awful.
Overall, this comic is firing on every cylinder. Keeping the monsters out of focus keeps us guessing what their real nature is, which keeps the horror feeling intact. MoiraTech has been set up as a great background villain, and a worthy homage to Weiland-Yutani. And even though the dialogue and exposition doesn’t immediately introduce us to the characters, we do get to spend a little time inside Stockton and Kim’s heads. Excellent work, and I’m already eager for the next issue.