Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars

” ***  *** brought this *** upon yourselves. *** Now you will BURN!”

Hello, you beautiful people. D.C. here. It’s a beautiful day to throw down with you on a very beautiful work of art:

Image Comics’ Descender is a science fiction saga by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen. The series is about the hunt for a boy-android named TIM-21, who awakens  a decade after robotic giants called Harvesters devastated the galaxy. TIM-21 is more special than he realizes, and is targeted as the only robot whose mechanical DNA may hold the secrets to the galaxy’s survival. To that end, TIM-21 is escorted by his creator, Dr. Quon, his robot dog Bandit, the hulking droid Driller, and galactic counsel soldiers Telsa and Tullis. But the galactic counsel is not the only group that wants TIM-21.

The highlights

Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen prove to be an exceptional pair in capturing the essence of Descender. Nguyen’s lush painted art is beautiful, at times simple, but so potent and appropriate for a sci-fi book. I’ve never been a fan of the sci-fi genre, but Nguyen’s art consistently hits in just the right spots for any skeptic.

Jeff Lemire turns me on to the genre as well. Lemire does a fantastic job of developing the world of Descender. In the future or any world beyond our current one, you expect a certain difference in lingo. This is shown a bit in this book, but it is sensible enough that you can easily interpret. Lemire’s continuous surprises in this book kept me interested, and the terrible things perpetrated and the revelations towards the end of the volume are staggering. It made me hungry to find out more.

Lemire scribes a world that we are all too familiar with from history. Robots were made to service the world, but after the Harvester attack, anti-robot sentiment came to a head, leading to the world to lash out and massacre robots with impunity. Driller’s prejudice of humans is justified as you read on. In spite of the beautiful art portrayed by Dustin Nguyen, he also captures an ugliness in the galaxy that you just can’t ignore.

Characterization: Lemire does a great job individualizing the essences of his cast. You see them as true individuals based on their behaviors and speech, in perfect synergy with Dustin Nguyen’s art. The adults are morally gray and relatable, but Lemire particularly captures his protagnoist, TIM-21, so well. It almost made me sad to see TIM-21 from the onset, but I also wanted to laugh at his artificial innocence. Cybernetics aside, he is a truly charming child.

My personal favorite is Telsa, the hard-nosed captain whose mission is to retrieve TIM-21. I found it funny that Dr. Quon made note of the obvious reference of Telsa’s name to Nikola Tesla’s. Beyond that, she is beautiful, strong, and dynamic. The single silent page of her background tells you all that there is to know about her motivation for taking on her mission. That background shows in her treatment and manipulation of TIM-21. I like Telsa, but I hope she can reverse her controlled disdain towards robots and TIM.

 

The lowlights

The only real downside to this was the editing. I’m a grammar Nazi, so it was easy for me to catch a few grammatical errors in the book. I don’t know if that was a mistake by Lemire or an editor, but either way, it’s there.

Recap

Descender starts out as a beautiful, exciting, and saddening tale of a future world that is torn asunder by creatures that lack comprehension. Descender does well to address the hauntingly similar atrocities we have seen throughout history, of the masses who discriminate, denigrate, and massacre the other. It is easy to see that readers will have a favorite character very early on. I have no doubt that Descender will deliver a truly satisfying sci-fi epic.

I highly recommend you pick up BOTH volumes as soon as possible.

END THROWDOWN.

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One response

  1. […] art provided by Tocchini is a very different form than I’d seen in other books (until Descender, that is), and it is a very beautiful thing to behold. Tocchini’s art flows well with the aquatic, […]

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