Descender #2 was easily my most anticipated book of last week after the series’ stunning debut last month. Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen deliver a follow-up that maintains the high quality set by the first issue while taking on a whole new tone.
Tim-21 might not remember this, but robots aren’t popular in his universe. A decade earlier, giant robots known as Harvesters appeared and laid waste to the nine core planets of the system. Since then, mercenaries known as Scrappers have made it their mission to hunt and eliminate the remaining robots in the system. As Tim struggles to remember his past, he is being pursued by a particularly nasty group of Scrappers through the abandoned mining station in which he awoke.
Lemire set up the pieces in the first issue, building his universe and introducing our protagonist back into the world. This issue is smaller in scope and far more personal. The narrative is split between Tim’s past and present, both playing off each other to show two sides of his character. It works to fill readers in about his backstory and give the present dangers real weight. Both plotlines build toward a dramatic conclusion with a surprisingly emotional impact. It’s impressive that in only two issues there are already so many reasons to care about Tim and his robot-dog companion.
As great as the writing is, the art is what makes this book something truly special. Nguyen perfectly captures the tone of the series in beautiful watercolor.The backgrounds are dark and minimal for the most part, drawing the eye toward the brightly colored characters. It helps give the panels a sense of space. These pages are contrasted by the mostly black and white flashback scenes. In these panels, the backgrounds are bright and the characters take up most of the page. It helps convey the emotions more clearly and separate Tim’s happier past with his dim future.
Steve Wands does a great job in the lettering department, using the dialogue bubbles in thoughtful ways. For example, Wands uses square bubbles for robot speech and round bubbles for human speech. It’s a small touch, but it’s the attention to the little details that help elevate this book to such a high status.
Descender #2 is another great book, leaving the series at two for two so far. Though it is only just beginning, Descender is shaping up to be one of the strongest new Image titles of the year. If you somehow missed out on the first issue, be sure to track down a copy and get on board with this series.