Tshinanu Reviews – Descender #1

For whomever is reading this, I tend to be extremely flaky with my reviews, or even keeping this blog updated, nevertheless, I still try to do so every now and again. I’ve all but given up on reviewing Arrow and Flash, though I’m certain I’ll get around to giving my final thoughts once the seasons come to their conclusion. That’s merely because I’m inconsistent with my viewing, even with shows I find myself enamored with. Take for example, Game of Thrones, which is essentially my favorite work of fiction I’ve ever engrossed myself in, yet I don’t believe I have watched a single episode on its television debut this season, even now, I find myself still needing to catch up on the latest episode and have encountered a spoiler in regards to it. It’s just the nature of the – my – beast.

This brings me to my latest ‘review’ and again, I hate to call it a review because I’m not very good at reviewing, I find. In a literal sense, I suppose review is relatively accurate since I’m giving my thoughts on the subject, but I’m not doing it from an extremely critical standpoint as I wish I could.

With a foreword out of the way, I’d like to introduce what I’ll be reviewing this post-around, The Descender #1, a comic book series published by Image Comics, written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Dustin Nguyen. The first Descender issue came out back in the early part of March so by the time of this writing, I believe the third issue will be releasing tomorrow.

Good to see emotes have stood the test of time.
Good to see emotes have stood the test of time.

Keeping in hand with the recent influx of robopocalypse (Age of Ultron, Terminator, etc.), Descender introduces us to a space-faring world inhabited by aliens, humans and artificial intelligence. The premise is that ten years before our protagonist’s story begins, 9 (and my numbers could very well be off) planetary-sized robots which brought to mind Marvel’s Celestials (Galactus in particular), suddenly appeared before the 9 major planets of the United Galactic Council (a sort of galactic-wide UN). These 9 robots, called Harvesters, would essentially exact a genocide of the non-robotic races inhabiting those planets, with a great majority of A.I.’s spared before they (the Harvesters) would suddenly vanish. In that way, it also reminded me of Attack on Titan’s prologue in which the wall-sized titan would nearly wipe out the wall-bordering city before vanishing.

Noticing how most of the A.I.’s were spared from the onslaught, the other races would essentially embark on their own form of genocide. You would have thought, after seeing so much bloodshed, they’d be hesitant to do the same, but alas, it is in our nature to be cruel. In turn, a great cull occurred with a massive genocide of these A.I.’s. One of the (former) leading technological scientist in artificial intelligence (now a shell of his former self) created a race of child companion A.I. called Tim’s before the Harvester’s invasion. It turns out, the Tim’s have a similar genetic code (DNA) as those Harvester’s. Alas, those Tim’s were the victims of the cull… bar one.

Tim-21 (as he’s referred to) seems to be our protagonist, waking up after 10 years of deep sleep to find his entire colony bar a pet-robot, dead after an accidental mining incident (though some escaped, he suspects his mother and an Andy may have escaped as well). The government official, Telsa (not to be miswritten as Tesla) who retrieved the deadbeat engineer, Quon need to get to Tim-21 as fast as possible, though by the end of issue 1, pirates have already reached him. Ironically, the ones whom are the key to understanding the nature of the Harvesters are the ones all these other races are alienating and it could very well costs them their existence.

Descender brings to mind so many other works of fiction I enjoy, I’ve already brought up the comparisons to Marvel, to Attack on Titan, I can also bring forth comparison to the Reapers in Mass Effect, robotic beings bent on the cyclical destruction of all sentient races, or to Saga, a similar space operatic story about a kid everyone is hell-bent on hurting due to the nature of their birth. In that sense, it wasn’t hard to enjoy Descender and its premise, even whilst a lot of other works are embarking on a similar plot thread, it’s different enough and brings so many this meets this meets this summaries to the fold.

No wonder they invented robot dogs. Evolution has not been kind.
No wonder they invented robot dogs. Evolution has not been kind.

That said, what allowed Descender to distinguish itself the most wasn’t its plot but the art direction Dustin brings forth. It’s beautiful, and extremely distinct. It looks like a painting. I’m a terrible visual artist, and I’m far from a leading mind on art and the way it works, and certainly far beyond on the variety of arts other more prominent comic book readers may have seen, but Descender may very well be the more distinguished art style I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. In a way, the art feels abstract to a very light degree. I had to look up to get the term I was looking to describe it best and I believe ‘water-painting’ is the term to describe the style, though pictures will do a far better job of explaining what I mean more than anything I could formulate in words. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and I don’t believe I’ve got the knowledge to describe it all in a thousand words.

The initial issue is everything you could expect out of the first issue of a work of written fiction, it sets the inciting incident, tells us the premise, leaves many questions to be answered and immediately ups the stakes with the arrival of pirates at the end of the chapter. If you’re a fan of science fiction, more so science fiction that encompasses space travel, aliens and A.I., particularly with the oncoming return of Star Wars to forefront of mainstream media, than I don’t see why you would not get your hands on Descender #1.

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