“But if it wasn’t a dream—then—where was I?”
— Jeff Lemire, Descender (Volume 1: Tin Stars)
Image comics is known to set loose some very potential comic series. Descender is Jeff Lemire’s creator-owned projet, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, and is another ongoing series that Image comics can proudly talk about. The first time I ran across this collected edition of the series, I was intrigued by the cover art. It didn’t take long before I started seeing the series pretty much everywhere. The story follows TIM-21. A young robot who’s artificial intelligence is as close to human’s as possible. While the first couple issues attempts to setup the story, readers will be thrown left and right to understand a unique universe where men clash with machine. Even if TIM-21 remains a crucial and important individual in the plot, a man who’s claimed to have invented the very technology behind artificial intelligence, bounty hunters, androids and various rulers are introduced. However, the plot makes sure to tie them all together as the first volume comes to an end. It is no simple task to talk about the story that unfolds since this is an adventure that is triggered from the moment you crack open the book.
The story itself is captivating. Volume 1 (Tin Stars) explores the whole concept of artificial intelligence and brings interesting twists to the idea that does nothing other than create hooks for readers to hold onto. These plotlines help create a staggering suspense to the overall story that is exhibited. Jeff Lemire’s Descender instantly became a potential series with these ideas and the various plot twists. The universe itself was interestingly setup, although it felt like a lot wasn’t memorable enough. In fact, with only a couple of issues, a universe this grandiose would surely need more story arcs to fully embrace Jeff Lemire’s imagination. I’m quite pleased by the direction it takes, and I am absolutely interested in finding out what Jeff Lemire has up his sleeves for future volumes. I only hope that some of the ideas will be explored in even more depth and that the story travels to places that one does not expect.
What truly makes Descender a strong debut is Dustin Nguyen’s contribution. The artwork is absolutely fantastic. It is something that you don’t see often in comics since it fully plunges into watercolor. The beauty that emanates from his artwork is astounding. It oddly manages to capture such an innocent yet destructive world. There are moments where you just can’t skip and have to give your brain some time to acknowledge the talent that Dustin Nguyen has and the emotions he is able to stir up when things start to get intense. A plot that revolves around a sci-fi universe with a lot of galactic elements and curious, yet distinctive, factions, couldn’t have been explored any better than with this style. While it is indeed singular in the comic medium, it does have some imperfections to my eyes. More often than not, it is possible to see some of the sketch-like penciling and the rough outlines that were done prior to putting colors. While it makes the experience quite original, it does also make it feel unpolished. In fact, sometimes the watercolor is so pale that you can barely distinguish objects from each other.
Descender is a series with great potential. If Jeff Lemire continues to develop the story in the angles that he teased throughout Tin Stars, he is sure to establish Descender as as a phenomenal series. The artwork is splendid and definitely brings something new to the table. While it could feel washed up at times, I still feel like it brought to life a lot of dichotomy. Whether it’s the difference between humans and robots, life and death or war and peace, this series felt authentic. What I also truly enjoyed in this volume is how fearless Jeff Lemire is in dramatically changing the plot with sudden twists. It’s one thing to have them come in unexpected moments, but it’s another to see them come with such power when the artwork only conveys purity. Descender is a sci-fi series that any fan of a cosmic odyssey should embark on. It can be fascinating thanks to some very interesting characters and their curious personalities, but it is even more riveting thanks to its boundless universe.
Did you read Descender (Volume 1: Tin Stars) yet? What did you think about it?
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