I always enjoy jumping into a great story at the very beginning of its release. In the comic world, first issues can be hit or miss. Sometimes you pick up a first issue and it’s completely different than what you expected or the preview you may have found online. What was gorgeous art is accompanied by a boring storyline. Thankfully, this is not the case with Jeff Lemire’s Descender.
After nine simultaneous, multi-world cataclysms (brought on by mysterious, planet-sized robots called Harvesters), the universe is at very different place. During the destruction, most AI were left unharmed. People feared a connection between the Harvesters and other robots which inspired anti-robot fanaticism. Robots, who were once a common tool across the galaxy, are now mostly annihilated. Any remaining AI are being hunted down and destroyed.
Language: Language is clean.
Violence/Disturbing Images: Considering that there is a multi-world cataclysm, there are panels with people running and screaming during the destruction. Later, many decomposing dead bodies are shown being found by a young character.
Ten years after this inexplicable event, Tim-21, a young robot boy, awakens to a scary world. All around him lie the bodies of people he once knew before his decade-long slumber—he’s unsure what happened to them. Alone, Tim is unaware that the galaxy he lives in is one where he is forbidden and sought after to be destroyed. Of course, the hunt has only just begun as a team of scientists have located him.
Writer Jeff Lemire is mostly known for Essex County Trilogy, Sweet Tooth, and the newly published All-New Hawkeye. Lemire does a great job of putting together a new universe very quickly. It didn’t take very long to jump in and get a feel for the few characters introduced in this first issue. I really enjoyed the writing for Tim. Even though it’s clear that he’s a robot, there’s something about the writing that conveys a distinctly human innocence to his AI programming. There’s also a nice little twist in the last pages that really drew me in.
My only small criticism would be that because it’s a fast paced issue, there wasn’t a lot of time for character set up. Tim is the easiest to relate to so far. There’s also a human scientist that seems to be another main character, but it was a little bit ambiguous how we were supposed to view him. Granted, I realize that this is only the first issue, and I’m sure this concern will be resolved in the next issues.
I appreciated that Lemire was able to begin an exciting story without trying too hard to be edgy. I’ve seen a trend in new TV shows and comics to include lots of curse words and graphic violence or sex in order to capture views. This was a good break from the norm as there were no curse words or sex scenes. There was violence but it was mostly implied violence and not really depicted on the page. There’s no telling if it’ll stay as clean from here on, the cliffhanger at the end shows that we may be in for some violence.
When I saw the cover of the first issue, I immediately wanted to know what this book was. As I did more research, I found the art to be the key factor in making a decision to pick up this book. The artist is none other than Dustin Nguyen. Fans of Nguyen’s Li’l Gotham and several Batman comics he’s worked on will appreciate his unique, hand-drawn, water color style. It really brings life to this story.
The character designs are unique, though I think where the art really shines is in how it creates moods. The pages where Tim wakes up are drawn in such a way that the loneliness in the panels can be easily interpreted. There are also a couple of moments where Tim is shown in a more robotic form which looks both a little scary and cool at the same time. The art really helps Tim come alive as for a robot, he’s really expressive.
As a bonus feature to this issue, there are five extra pages showcasing some concept art. I’m a huge sucker for concept art. If you’re like me, you’ll also appreciate these sneak peeks into this new series!
Jeff and Dustin have put together a great issue to kick off the beginning of a new series. Based on where they left off, this series has a lot of potential to be a great space epic with a lot of heart. Issue 1’s story progressed quickly and sets up the next really well. Dustin’s art style fits beautifully with the story’s environments and I can’t wait to see what the following issues will look like. It’s also hard to pass up 30 pages for $2.99, it’s a great deal for such a high quality comic. You can pick this issue at your local comic book shop today and pick up the second issue on April 8th.
+ Fast-paced story that jumps right in + Beautiful art by Dustin Nguyen + End of the issue leaves you wanting more + Fairly clean content-wise + High potential to be a great series + 30 pages for $2.99
- Setting up the story takes away from getting to know the characters
The Bottom Line
If you're the type to get involved in space epics, this will probably be right up your alley. With an exciting plot and eye candy art, Descender has the potential of being a fantastic series.