Descender #11 Writer: Jeff Lemire Pencils and Colors: Dustin Nguyen Letters: Steve Wands Publisher: Image
Descender #11 concludes the second story arc of Lemire’s and Nguyen’s hit sci-fi series. The story centers around a robot named Tim-21 who resembles a young life like boy. He wakes up a decade after an army of massive robots called The Harvesters laid waste and caused panic among the United Galactic Council(UGC). As a result the once well thought of robot population was outlawed, hunted down, and dismantled.
The UGC had discovered of Tim-21’s existence and found out that within him may contain the secrets to The Harvesters. A UGC captain named Telsa, along with the scientist named Quon are now on a journey with him and have recently taken shelter with the robot resistance named The Hardwire. Tim-21 had also come along another young life like boy robot named Tim-22 whom he’d grown a strong friendship with as of late. However not all is well as the Hardwire’s true intentions are revealed.
Writer Jeff Lemire here has done a terrific job in creating some very memorable and likable characters in this series. Tim-21 is as wide eyed and innocent as they come and every issue you read you hope for the best outcome for him. There is also the growing suspension of him wanting to reunite with his long lost human companion Andy. However Andy has grown up and is what this galaxy refers to as a scrapper, robot hunters. There is the growing tension of what might happen should they ever do reunite and that is only further explored and build upon in this issue.
Captain Telsa is a no nonsense officer who doesn’t trust anyone. As hinted at before the reveals at the end of the issue confirm her suspicions and she also knows that once the Hardwire get what they want from Tim-21 that both her and Quon are to be dispensed of. However she has some great scenes in the opening pages and you start to question if she has come to care for Tim-21’s well being. Has the hard nosed captain grown a soft spot?
The highlight of this book is that the lines between the UGC and the robot resistance are shaded much more grey in this issue. It shows both sides have their flaws and are neither 100% right or wrong. The reveal at the end has the effect of feeling both the wrong route of action and completely justified at the same time. Being able to do that is an testament of how strong of a writer Lemire is.
However the issue and overall story arc isn’t perfect. This arc is filled with a ton of exposition and set up and while Lemire does a solid job of giving us effective character development at the same time it can sometimes feel a bit too much. I found myself needing to go back and read previous issues to fully understand the context of the overall plot, as well as reminding myself of certain characters motivations.
The final page ends on a cliff hanger and all I can say is that the theme of the closing panel is betrayal. While it’ll grab readers investment and inevitably returning for the next issue I was hoping for a little more payoff story wise.
Artist Dustin Nguyen’s work in this issue is as solid and visual pleasing as ever. Every panel has a sense of tone, atmosphere, and is an absolute joy to hold and simply become mesmerized in its beauty. The landscaping shots with its original color palette give it a vibe of an entirely different galaxy that most sci-fi comics have difficulty in accomplishing.
Descender #11 is a solid closing to the second story arc of this remarkable sci-fi series. While it isn’t perfect and there is a lot to take in exposition wise, it’s written in a mature manner and the characters are incredibly engaging. The artworks unearthly visuals and vibe will only suck you into this world that Lemire and Nguyen have created even more.
Score:4 out of 5
Review by Eric Bradach