Descender #1 (Image Comics)

Descender 1Jeff Lemire has become a big deal in comics thanks to his writing on unique titles like Animal Man, Sweet Tooth, Trillium and Lil’ Gotham. Now he adds another interesting premise to his bibliography with Descender #1 from Image Comics, which follows the story of an child android in a world where robots are extinct. But will this title match Lemire’s already high quality previous works, or will it feel more artificial than most fans will tolerate?

Descender 1Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists:  Dustin Nguyen (art), Steve Wands (Letterer)
Price: £1.99/$2.99 from ComiXology

In the distant future, in a different part of the galaxy, humans have settled on the planet of Sampson and become part of a nine planet galactic council which is technologically advanced. However, when all worlds of this council are simultaneously attacked by giant, advanced robots, the survivors retaliate by outlawing all artificial intelligence, making robots extinct. But then, ten years later, a sole child robot awakes on a deserted mining colony and makes contact, having the same digital fingerprint as the attackers, causing a race amongst factions to get to him first.

This is a truly fantastic book as Jeff Lemire has seemingly nailed the story and the characters. From the moment he wakes, Tim is portrayed exactly as he should be; sweet caring and innocent, it gives off a one man (or boy) against the universe sense (almost literally). Meanwhile, the world that is starting to be made here is so grand, it makes the book feel more important and fantastical. Then there are the characters themselves who, despite little time focusing on any one of them, instead focusing more on story set up, there are already hints of what makes them tick, possibly setting each up with their own intriguing story arc going forward.

As for the art, Dustin Nguyen’s work is certainly unusual compared to other titles, which could be jarring once reaching the first page. However, this soon changes with the first pJage acting like an almost transitional page that is shifting from nothingness to the world we need to see, slowly intergrating the reader. This results in a book which looks every bit the advanced, sci-fi title but imbuing it with an epic scope, as shown when early on when the ‘harvester’ is introduced. Meanwhile, there is a good use of colours throughout, giving off many tones (such as Tim’s waking scene), while the pencils used in Tim’s transition from boy to robot is also eerie in its realism.

Steve Wand’s lettering also deserves praise, as he utilising multiple forms to make the various expositional methods all appear different and prevent them from being dull exposition. This is especially prevalent during Tim’s watching the news blasts, providing the story with an increasing sense of dredd as the report segments progress.

pd_review4half“Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen have created an incredibly engrossing story for Descender #1. With an epic backdrop and an exciting implied premise of a child fugitive (as given from the last few pages), all wrapped up in gorgeous artwork, it is as impossible to put this book down as it is to wait for the next installment. Though it might seem a bit exposition heavy, it still is an issue which draws you in and makes you believe that investing long-term will be worth it.”