Young Robot boy TIM-21 and his companions struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. Written by award-winning creator, Jeff Lemire, Descender is a rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey. Lemire pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling epic. Created by Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Trillium) and Dustin Nguyen’s (Little Gotham) critically acclaimed, bestselling new science fiction series!
Collecting: Descender 1-6
Okay, it is time to reel in my flailing before beginning, this graphic novel was that good. I honestly have not read something this amazing in quite a long time, and it was wonderful for a comic to just “click” with me so well. Descender is fantastic sci-fi rendered in a beautiful watercolor setting that was incredibly unique and refreshing. Alien worlds emblazoned in rich shades, so unfamiliar and otherworldly, fit with the flow of the story well enough that any doubts I may have had from the deviation from normal comic book art were blown out of the water.
The story follows TIM-21, a companion android for children that wakes up years after an attack from massive robots known as the Harvesters. Alone and afraid on a desolate mining planet far from populated reaches of the galaxy, different factions vie for retrieving him due to his importance in identifying the origin of the murderous machines that killed millions upon millions. Those groups, such as the UGC, Grishians, and the like, all have their own clear motives and were each fascinating in their own right. I cannot wait to learn more about each of them as this comic progresses!
The grayness of each character was another favorite part of this work for me. No one was strictly good or evil, which in comics feels great as there is so often a clear good guy and bad guy, especially in the superhero genre. From the “father of modern robotics” to those who want to destroy all robots in existence, they all have solid reasoning for their actions and their own light and dark sides. This becomes clearer as the comic progresses. All we can root for is poor TIM-21, who just wants to see his family again. And, of course, Driller, because Driller is the best and there is no argument that’ll make me believe otherwise.
Finally, the theme of the humanity of robots is always a wonderful one to visit, and this comic has this in spades. TIM-21 is programmed with emotions to facilitate his job as a companion robot, and the robots shown throughout the story feel much more human than their modern-day counterparts. Yet, they are being massacred due to the robot attack that so many planets endured. The parallels to genocide are not easily missed, and the easiest characters to empathize with are the machines.
Overall, I cannot wait to read the second and third trade paperbacks that are currently out and will likely review those as well! (We may have already bought them, I was so excited.) Descender deserves all five stars, as Jeff Lemire has created a beautiful world and characters I can get behind. This is probably my favorite sci-fi comic outside of Saga, which is a high honor!