Review: Descender #1

Descender is a new series debuting this week from Image Comic. The series was created by the team of writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen. It’s the story of the United Galactic Council still recovering from an attack on its core worlds by giant robots called Harvesters some ten years earlier. Before the Harvesters attack, Dr. Jin Quan was the foremost authority on robotic A.I. Shortly after the attack, he theorized that if the base code, a codex, for the Harvesters could be deciphered, then some insight into their origins and motivations could be understood and future attacks could prevented. Sadly, a great fear of robots swept across the galaxy leading the a robot genocide. Dr. Quan fell on hard times in the intervening years until UGC comes calling. On an abandoned mining colony, a robot model called Tim-21 uplinked to the galactic network, and he has a codex similar to the Harvesters. Now, the UGC must find Tim-21 before he falls prey to anti-robot fanatics.

The Good

Jeff Lemire’s written for us a new epic universe to explore. One that is reeling from a devastating attack and trying to make sense of this new galactic-scale shift. I like Jeff Lemire’s work, but he does take his time world building, and this is one big universe to fill. I enjoyed his run on the New 52 Animal Man, so I realize Lemire is slowly building up speed which should lead into a bigger story. And that’s why I’m willing to give Descender a couple of issues to get going.

Dustin Nguyen art is fantastic. Nowadays, I know him from his work on L’il Gotham. Somehow I’ve forgotten just how great an artist he is. The artwork is beautiful when paired with the watercolors. In the first part of the book, the world is presented as a clean and nice place, after the attack you get a sense that this is a lived-in universe, not as sterile and isolated.

The Bad

I can’t help the feeling that I’ve seen this story before. It feels like a mix between the movie A.I. and the Mass Effect game series. I certainly hope it doesn’t play out the Mass Effect series, but I can’t shake the feeling that it might. Fingers crossed it doesn’t.

The Verdict

Descender is off to a good start with a good story and solid art. Having read some of Lemire’s books before, I’m willing to continue reading the series to see if there’s a bigger payoff. Nguyen’s artwork is wonderfully done and creates a sense that this is going to be a story on an grand scale. Hopefully, this creative team will deliver something truly epic.

The Score

Story 4 Out of 5
Art 5 Out of 5
Overall 4.5 Out of 5

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