Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
The first arc of Ascender ends with this issue, as Andy and Bandit are (finally, after months of teasing) reunited with Telsa. Well, technically, they met up last month, but they didn’t get a chance to catch up due to Telsa’s… alcohol-induced sleepiness. Not that they get a chance to talk a lot, mind you, with the militia being on their tail and all. But I’m getting ahead of myself, don’t want to get too much into spoiler territory.
While our heroes are coming up with an escape plan, Mother is dealing with the aftermath of the rebel’s attack. Saying that she is angry would be a serious understatement. The twin sorcerers have messed up – big time – and it doesn’t seem they’ll be getting away with a pardon.
Some of you might already know how I feel about Jeff Lemire. If you aren’t one of those ‘some’, then here it is – I love the guy! He’s, without a doubt, one of the best currently active writers and it doesn’t look like he’ll be losing his thunder anytime soon. Ascender just proves this point, as this first arc is on par with the best arcs from Descender.
The issue goes from a (somewhat) warm reunion to an angry confrontation, from a surprise realisation to some plan-making, and finally finishing with a big action sequence. Lemire accomplishes all of this without skipping a beat, without making it feel forced or rushed. What I’m trying to say, essentially, is that the pacing and the flow of the book is outstanding.
As I’ve stated before, Dustin Nguyen’s painted artwork is such a great fit for Ascender’s fantasy sensibilities. Especially when you factor in the obvious eldritch horror influences on the series. That influence was also present in Descender, mind you. But it’s a lot more prominent here with the availability of more grotesque designs and imageries.
Anyway, the artwork fits the feel of the book really well, and there are gorgeous shots in the book… But I have a complaint to make. At times, the art can look unfinished. There are quite a few panels that look like they never got beyond the sketching phase and just had colours slapped on to them. Now, this isn’t anything new. Expecting each and every panel, no matter the size or the content, to look perfect, especially in this style, isn’t viable. But I do feel like this issue had an overabundance of unfinished-looking panels. This has the unfortunate effect of making the book seem rushed. The next issue isn’t due until the end of October, so we’ll see how will an extra month affect the quality of the art.
So yeah, that’s it, ‘The Haunted Galaxy’ is finished and it left quite a few cliffhangers. The team doesn’t tread some new, never-explored ground, but they know how to deliver a fun story with interesting and compelling characters. Looking forward to what they’ve got in store for us in October.
The first arc of Ascender sets up the stage for a really compelling story. Get this issue, get the trade. Hell, get all the Descender trades while you're at it. Just be read for October.