Zeb Larson reviews Roche Limit: Clandestiny #5…
And now Roche Limit: Clandestiny has come to its end, its conclusion significantly raising the stakes for the third and final volume of this series. The survivors of the group realize that the malevolent beings they’ve found want to make their way to Earth, and the survivors plus Danny are the only ones who even have a chance of stopping them. As Elbus and the others go to try and save the human race, Sasha is determined to confront the monster that’s been stalking them this whole time. Like Moreci has done for most of this book, what we learn here only raises more questions about what comes next. It’s a strong hook for what’s to come. Warning: I will be discussing major spoilers ahead.
Sasha manages to repair Danny by plugging him into a new body, and she explains to him that she’s staying behind because she has nothing to back to on Earth. Elbus can’t persuade her to stay behind, and after a few goodbyes she goes off to confront the monster. Sure enough, it appears in the guise of her deceased husband Dave, who Kim guts after a few tears, setting off a pitched battle between her and the monster, which assumes the shape of a mech. Back in space, Danny points out that MoiraTech will never let them interfere on Earth, and that since the ship was designed to contain the monster, it might keep them safe in the anomaly. The three then decide to head inside and do what they can there.
Just as the mech has Sasha in her clutches, a memory of her daughter brings her back, and Sasha manages to shoot the energy panel of the mech. Mortally wounded, she lies with the wounded “monster,” who tells her that they don’t hate humans, but instead worship them. They need their souls to become something more than what they are, and Sasha responds that they will fail. In the epilogue, Elbus’ ship is surrounded by a massive fleet of other ships.
That’s a hell of a lot to have go down, but it works as a second volume climax. We don’t have a lot of answers about what Elbus finds on the other side, such as how these creatures have built ships. Regardless, there are a lot of them, and it’s not going to be as simple as just finding the monster and shooting it. These creatures have become dopplegangers, whereas before they just seemed to be simple scavengers, and that’s going to make them a lot more dangerous. On top of that, we have no indication how Elbus will survive any of this, so I guess volume three can’t come soon enough.
What can we say about Sasha’s final confrontation with the monster? Going to kill the monster doesn’t really help anybody else on Earth, or Elbus. It’s really a way for her to confront her own guilt about not being in the car that killed her family. Gutting the fake Dave is one last attempt to dispel the feeling that she abandoned her family. While she might have nothing left to live for now, these creatures can’t possibly address the sadness that Sasha has to live with, and their attempt to do so is prove of how patently false they are. Doppleganger may be less accurate than “simulacra,” a poor imitation as Sasha says.
What makes them poor simulacra? In the end, they can’t love or feel affection. They might “worship” human beings, but only in that they want to replace us. They’re hive creatures, so they exist in relation to each other only as much as they can pursue a common goal. All they can do is try and imitate human beings, but without the relationships that make human beings unique. Our stubborn individualism produces a great many problems and we can’t work together in the same way that say, creatures of a hive mind can, but those relationships can make us substantially more dynamic than the latter. Perhaps this is why Sasha can so confidently say that the monsters will lose.
So, what is going to come next? How much of this issue will take place in the Anomaly, and how much will take place back on earth? If this volume was more akin to Aliens in that it focused on a team of people, is the next going to be all-out war against the creatures, or does Moreci have a different plan in mind to frame the next volume? Lastly, and this question has been an ongoing one through most of this series…how are they going to overcome a monster which literally feeds on our worst tendencies?
What else is there to say about this book? Roche Limit is trying to tackle bold questions about human nature and how we can reach through to the better angels of our nature. The book’s sci-fi setting brings human nature right to the foreground, paradoxically, by juxtaposing us against the cosmos. That alone should push this book into the status of a classic.