Descender #1 introduces another new sci-fi world, courtesy of Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen and the folks at Image. With the shelves stacked with science fictional comics, what does Descender bring to the table?
A SERVICEABLE PLOT ABOUT SERVICE ROBOTS
Descender #1 opens with a prologue reminiscent of Battlestar Galatica, introducing the teeming world of Niyrata, capital of The United Galactic Council, moments before its decimation by massive robotic assailants. In the wake of this attack, robots are destroyed on sight across the inhabited worlds. Woe then to Tim-21, a child-like android who wakes up on a remote mining colony a decade later unaware of the new status quo. Somehow, his code is linked to the robot destroyers known as the Harvesters.
Jeff Lemire’s Descender script tidily presents its characters, setting the stage with a number of factions and interests, and two main protagonists in Tim-21 and the traumatized roboticist Dr. Jin Quon. The story itself weaves together a lot of recognizable sci-fi DNA; the aforementioned BSG and Blade Runner are clear influences. It suffers from being slightly generic, and the nonsensical techno-babble that sets Tim-21 up as his own MacGuffin doesn’t quite sound convincing. That said, Lemire does manage to get across the feeling of a new interplanetary civilization in a few pages, and if it can break free from its influences, Descender has the seeds of a very good story.
COME FOR THE ROBOTS, STAY FOR THE ART
The highlight of Descender #1 is Dustin Nguyen’s superb artwork. The art is done in a watercolor-like style, with a muted palette to underscore the haunted tone of the book. A full page illustration of Tim-21 reacting to his robot dog is as striking an image as I have seen yet this year. Nguyen provides a two page splash of a newsfeed that turns a basic information dump into a feast for the eyes. And the final page, presenting a motley assortment of robot-hunting Scrappers, hooked me for the next issue with their inventive character designs. And his rendition of Tim-21’s robot dog – I’d ask why a robotic childcare companion needs his own robotic dog, but Nguyen makes the thing so darn cute I don’t care why it exists.
THE BOTTOM LINE: PICK IT UP
Image has put together a wonderful package in Descender. For a low price point, you get page after page of gorgeous art, uninterrupted by ads. If you like science-fiction, robots, and/or good art, there is little reason not to take a chance on Descender. It’s a solid first issue, worth reading for the art alone, and could be a series to watch if it builds on this momentum. Check it out.
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