Wal-Tor Weekly Review – Descender Volume 1!
So another Fan Expo has come and gone, leaving many Big B Comics employees feeling rather exhausted. Unfortunately, that has resulted in the Wal-Tor Weekly Review falling a bit on the back burner these last few weeks and squeaking in reviews on new product whenever we can. I didn’t get much of a chance to read any new single issues this week for the review, so I decided to try to switch things up. Today on the Wal-Tor Weekly Review we’re going to take a quick look at the new trade paperback for the excellent Image series, Descender!
Descender Volume 1: Tin Stars
Niryata is the technological hub of the nine planets of the United Galactic Council, otherwise known as the UGC. It is also considered home to the Embassy Cities, with one city state representing each of the core nine planets of the UGC. Chaos erupts when a massive robot, referred to as a Harvester, suddenly appears looming over Niryata, causing wide-spread destruction and ruin. Similar incidents occur across the rest of the galaxy, leaving all races and species in utter disbelief. Ten years later, a robot boy named Tim-21 awakes on a deserted mining colony on the moon of Dirishu-6. Alone and with no memory of the last ten years, Tim-21 searches the colony for answers with his trusty robot pal, Bandit. The two quickly discover that robots have been widely banned since the Harvester incident but what’s even more troubling is the discoveries Tim-21 begins to make that connect him to the Harvester attacks.
Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen give readers what is perhaps one of the best new series of the year with Descender. This trade paperback collects the first six issues, completing the opening arc of this story. Jeff Lemire is always a standout creator but he ups his game even further with Descender. In just a few short pages, Lemire does some amazing world building, telling us everything we need to known about certain planets with a couple of panels. As you get deeper into the story, the different colonies, factions, planets and much more gets fleshed out brilliantly. In terms of the overall story, Lemire really focuses on expanding the many mysteries that surround the title character of Tim-21. Each issue seems to give you just a shred of what might be the truth only to then rip the carpet out from underneath you to give you another shocking revelation that you didn’t see coming. By the end of this volume, you’re basically begging to find out what comes next. I’d describe what’s happening to Tim-21 in this series as a Sci-Fi sort of take on the character Pinocchio. Tim-21 goes through many levels of conflicting truths as he tries to discover who he really is. He’s a robot who used to have a family he can’t find, a family that made him feel “like a real boy”. I could go into even further detail on these characters and stories at play, but in this instance it’s great to just experience them yourself.
Dustin Nguyen is simply amazing in this book and deserves equal credit for how well this story reads, getting billed as a co-creator for the series with Lemire. His artwork is perfect for what these creators are trying to accomplish, striking the perfect blend between being emotive, rigid at times while being fluid at others. The character designs by Nguyen is exquisite, as he gets the chance to create different races and species of aliens as well as robots. Each character’s look is distinct and does more than just represent the type of character they are in a physical sense, but also shows their personality with general ease. Some of the best moments for Nguyen’s artwork aren’t the big, epic splash pages but the smaller moments of humanity he instills into the robotic character of Tim-21. Dustin Nguyen does such a fantastic job of humanizing Tim-21 that there are times you’ll forget he’s a robot entirely. When you add in the beautiful, faint colour work with the already stellar artwork, Descender gets such a unique style on all of its pages. Whether it’s the unique panel choices, brilliant character designs, or even the way Nguyen captures the world he and Lemire are trying to build, the artistic style of Descender is second to none.
Descender strikes the perfect balance on many fronts to provide readers with one of the best new series of the year. Jeff Lemire is the sharpest he’s ever been on this series, crafting fully fledged worlds with seeming ease. He develops a cast of characters who are all equally flawed and tug on your heartstrings every chance they get. Tim-21 is a stand out character who keeps you mesmerized from the first moment he pops up in the story, with directly correlating his character to someone like Pinocchio being an easy task. Dustin Nguyen is a powerhouse to back up the nuanced work of Lemire, with world and character designs that will make any Sci-Fi fan drool. Nguyen nails down the personality of the characters in their appearance, a feat that shouldn’t go understated when you consider the number of different species of aliens and robots he has created for this series. The faintness and vulnerability of the colour work in these issues is some of the best you’ll see for a creator owned series, with the use of sharp reds or soft blues creating such a dramatic ebb and flow for the pace of the series. Simply put, Descender is worth every penny you’ll spend and is a series I fully expect everyone to be talking about for years to come. Get in on the ground floor with this first volume!