Warning: Minor spoilers ahead. Ye have been warned!
Before I begin, I just want to offer up my sincerest apologies to my readers for my extended absence, which was due to a chronic health issue that has been causing me problems for quite some time. I had specifically intended to write this review long before now, but, unfortunately, the circumstances didn’t allow for it. Enough about me, though. Let’s get to the good stuff.
Roche Limit: Monadic is the third and final volume of Michael Moreci’s outrageously awesome and impressively unconventional science-fiction comic book series. I’ve been singing this series’ praises from the day I got my hands on the first volume, and now, after wrapping up the third and final act, I feel even more strongly about this book than I did when it debuted in September of 2014.
Monadic opens up with the return of Alex Ford, the protagonist from the first volume. Alex awakes in what appears to be a decrepit apartment building in the last habitable city on Earth. His revival is followed by the reappearances of several major characters from across the series, most of whom are seemingly unaware of how they ended up in their current location. They then must learn to discern the real from the imagined as they set out to prevent humanity’s extinction at the hands of the story’s nebulous alien villains.
Monadic puts a laser-like focus on the existential questions raised in the first two volumes, giving the book a cerebral quality that’s expertly offset by intensely brutal action sequences and a gloomy yet sexy urban landscape. In other words, Monadic is easily the most balanced and multilayered entry in the series, providing readers with a wonderful sampling of all the best elements of the science-fiction genre — and even a bit of high fantasy to boot.
For me, though, the most appealing aspect of the Roche Limit series is its enthusiastic rejection of determinism. In keeping with that theme, Monadic presents itself as a celebration of the sovereignty of the individual set against a nihilistic backdrop. The delightfully flawed characters, all works-in-progress, elevate and enhance that contrast as they openly rebel against the regrets that weigh them down, regrets brought to life by the haunting world in which they find themselves.
The cascading effects of the characters’ interpersonal relationships are also a strong focus of the story, and deservedly so. There’s a very odd yet very organic symmetry shared between Alex, Sasha, Sonya and Bekkah; they’re all distinct individuals with very different qualities, motivations and backgrounds, and yet they all seem bound by more than just circumstance. They’re like a team of kindred warrior-spirits, an alliance of conflicting personalities forged upon the foundation of a shared sense of selflessness. Consequently, it’s easy to appreciate them, to relate to them and to root for them.
As good of a storyteller as Moreci is, Kyle Charles also deserves a lot of credit for the awesomeness that is Monadic. Charles has a gritty and raw illustrative style that helps to anchor the story in a palpable intensity from beginning to end, and he’s quite good at utilizing shadows and colors to convey the mood of the moment. Furthermore, the characters’ expressions never feel out of sync with whatever is happening in any given scene; from the more tender moments shared between full-time lovers and part-time protagonists Alex and Bekkah to the pure, unadulterated rage of the sinister Moscow, Charles ensures that each and every drop of anger, hate, affection and fear is properly reflected in the faces — and especially the eyes — of the characters he draws.
Frankly, the only thing about Monadic I found to be slightly disappointing was the lack of closure. To be fair, it’s obvious that Moreci deliberately left some questions unanswered, preferring to let the reader ruminate on the implications of the final sequence of events. And he isn’t the first writer to end a series on a somewhat ambiguous note, so it’s not like he violated any norms or conventions. Point is, while I understand and appreciate his decision, the fanboy in me is dying to know what happened to…well, I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I’ll just leave it at that.
Conclusion: Even when you factor in the lack of closure, Monadic is as every bit as enjoyable, imaginative and thought-provoking as I knew it would be. So go buy it. Like, now. Or if you haven’t picked up this series, go get all three volumes, all of which can be purchased via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Image Comics.
Final Grade for ‘Roche Limit: Monadic’: A