Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Descender, a comic that has been going for 32 issues and a little over 3 years, tells the tale of robot boy Tim-21 and his search to find his brother Andy through the galaxy. Over the course of the series, it has explored themes like the nature of consciousness, the repercussions of enslaving something viewed as “inferior”, and the meaning of family. It has been a wild ride, but has it stuck the landing? Recently, Lemire announced that the story from Descender would be continued in a series to be released in 6 months called Ascender. I have avoided these previews as I wanted Descender to wrap up neatly. However, the ending answered few of my questions and left me with more, but the new series Ascender looks to be a wonderful continuation of this saga.
The comic in the most recent arcs has brought in ideas and character that I thought would be hard to justify as the end was looming so closely. For instance, in a few issues, the concept of Magic in this technology-filled world has been brought up but not developed at all. When it appeared in the last issue, I thought it was going to be a poor use of deus ex machina as a resolution, but Magic was left unaddressed and that will be the major topic of the new series Ascender. The final issue did a good job of addressing and trying to resolve character arcs. Lemire wraps up Andy’s and his girlfriend Effie’s character arcs very well, with a heartfelt reunion between him and his long lost brother Tim-21. While Telsa, a soldier tasked with retrieving Tim-21, got a redeeming arc that felt like it was wrapped up in the last issue, this was further emphasized here at the end. Even the redeeming arc of the Drilling Robot who killed a colony of humans on accident was emotionally grabbing. But the ending wasn’t perfect, we never learn what happened to Dr. Quon nor his mentor and the original robot design on the planet of Mata. And the magical character introduced gets very little development other than he knows magic.
The art by the wonderful Dustin Nguyen is always amazing. His mastery of watercolors to paint this epic intergalactic saga has been one of the major reasons I keep picking this book up. The way he uses negative space to create explosions or uses purple and blue hues over black to create the illusion of far-off star systems and galaxies is masterful. What is most impressive is his use of watercolors to create the depth of human emotions in faces. Nguyen skillfully can differentiate between the different experiences of heartbreak and hope with minute detail in a medium that is notoriously difficult to work with. On top of all of this, Nguyen tackles the task of creating individual planets and alien races, as well as different types of aliens, that all feel unique and alive.
While the ending wasn’t exactly perfect in my opinion and Lemire leaves more questions unanswered than answered. I look forward to the continuation of the Saga in Ascender, which is teased at the end of this book. I don’t take this as lazy writing but more as inspiration that struck allowing both Lemire and Nguyen to continue to build this universe they have created and explore the themes they have set up in a different light. Granted good writing doesn’t need to wrap everything up neatly, the final issue was a joy to read and I am looking forward to what is to come in Ascender.
While the ending wasn’t exactly perfect in my opinion and Lemire leaves more questions unanswered then answered. Granted good writing doesn’t need to wrap everything up neatly, the final issue was a joy to read and I am looking forward to what is to come in