Descender #1 Review & Spoilers
Jeff Lemire, Writer
Dustin Nguyen, Illustrator
Descender presents a mystery story on a galactic level.
Ten years earlier, a robot armada attacks a highly advanced alliance of species that is perpetually at odds with itself. The invaders decimate much of the alliance, yet make no demands or reveal where they came from. While billions of organics are killed, their robotic servants are spared. Despite possessing the capability to destroy the alliance, the invading army vanishes, and leaves its enemy in ruin.
Believing there is a connection between their own robots and the invading machines, the surviving organics commence a “robotic genocide” takes place throughout the galaxy.
The story jumps back to the present on a remote mining colony. Here, all the colonists were killed ten years when miners accidentally uncovered a deadly toxin. The only surviving member is an android child, Tim-21, who was “asleep” even before the mining disaster. Now a decade later, he plugs himself into the colony’s communications and computer system in order to locate his mother.
Back on the alliance’s devastated central planet, a representative of an organization known as the Megacosm summons Doctor Jin Quon. Quon was/is the alliance’s foremost robotics expert, and even though he collected large sums of data pertaining to the robotic army, he was unable to find a way to counter their attacks. Following the invader’s disappearance, and blaming himself for failing to discover any of the enemy’s weakness, he has spent the previous ten years in a depressed, self-loathing existence.
Summoned by Megacosm’s representative, Telsa, Quon recounts how he discovered the invading robot’s CODEX. This CODEX, much like an organic’s DNA, is unique to every robot, and could theoretically provide information on the invader’s origins and weaknesses.
In the twist of Issue 1, Quon is informed that the Tim-21 he created decades earlier shares the same CODEX as the invading robots. Quon is unaware of this fact, and he along with Telsa head to find Tim-21 on the mining colony in order to gather additional information in hopes of gaining additional understanding about the robotic invaders.
Having discovered Tim-21’s existence when he plugged himself into the comm systems, Telsa warns Quon that others will also be aware of the android’s presence on the mining colony. As the duo travels through space to the mining colony, a gang of anti-robot ruffians arrives to destroy Tim-21
Wow, Descender totally exceeded all my expectations. There’s plenty of mystery concerning where the invaders came from, and how they’re connected to Quon’s seemingly innocent child robot.
There’s also the sci-fi themes of artificial intelligence and morality, which is found in other similar works. Still, there are enough other, emotional threads going on here to make this totally worthwhile.
Nguyen’s watercolors are absolutely gorgeous, and while it’s not a design I’d expect in a space mystery epic, they totally work. His depiction of Telsa is particularly stunning as her red and silver tones jump out from the duller backgrounds.
Buy Descender. I went into this comic mildly interested, and now it’s near the top of my pull-list. Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen deserve a ton of credit for building a gripping tale.
Tags: Descender, Dustin Nguyen, Image Comics, Jeff Lemire