One of my favorite titles as of the last 5-years since I shifted more to Image Comics (from DC Comics and Marvel) has been Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen‘s Descender. The title has been one of the most consistent, and well telling of its story out of any book on the shelf.
Lemire and Nguyen have created a universe on a small-scale compared to the BIG2 comic companies that since its inception has organically spiraled into something large, complex and phenomenal. They’ve showed us readers, and the comic book industry, why Image Comics has become the “it” place over the last decade.
But sadly, as the saying goes, “All good things (must) come to an end,” and that’s what we saw in this week’s issue — Descender #32.
Following the journey of TIM-21—a companion robot who unknowingly holds the key to the Harvesters in his codex—to find his “brother,” ANDY, and reunite after “sleeping” through an absolute horror that changed the universe around him. Lemire and Nguyen took us on a ride of ups, downs and 360-loopdeloops! You had your heartstrings tugged on, you feel disgust for characters, see real world problems and controversies addressed properly via an organic way dictated by the story (and not the writer’s agenda) — it’s a story that truly sucks you in.
After finally reuniting, escaping the clutches of the HARDWIRE, (Tim) meeting his “father,” and everything appearing that it might get better… the universe comes to a crashing halt around Tim, Andy and EFFIE.
One of my favorite things about this finale issue was the way it was… you could say bookended. There was a narrator that was present at the start and finish, that sort of felt SAGAesque, as if someone was recalling a story (and we later found out that was the case) of what had gone on. And come the fact that the Descender universe will continue on in Ascender, this issue worked beautifully as what one could say was a backdoor pilot.
There are titles that fall short on their last issue, and you can tell that either (1) they just didn’t have it in them anymore to tell the story, or (2) the book was cancelled and they had to wrap it up in one final issue. Lemire and Nguyen put on display in #32 that they “live” in the Descendverse (yeah, that’s what I’m gonna call this universe from now on), and even more so in Lemire’s letter to the readers at the end of the issue…
One of the most bittersweet things about a great end to a great story, is that you don’t want to truly see it come to an end. Whether it’s Shawn and Gus from Psych riding off in the Blueberry for the final time, or John Constantine metaphorically walking off into the darkness with the end of Hellblazer, or Robert Kirkman’s Invincible, and so on (and so on). But that is the nature of the beast, as I said near the start of this article, “All good things come to an end,” but sometimes— if we’re lucky, something great is born from the ashes.
The key to a successful “franchise” is always keeping it fresh. Doing so in a way that keeps the spirit of what made it, “it,” alive and flowing through the fresh new story going forward. And I believe that with Ascender that’s what Lemire and Nguyen are going to give us: a fresh story that feels like Descender, but takes it to a whole new level of great story telling.
Ten years later the story continues…
It has been a decade since the machines went away, and in their absence magic has reclaimed the universe!
Now one girl embarks on an epic quest to find robotkind and its fabled boy messiah, Tim-21, before it’s too late…
Ascender will be hitting the shelves of a comic shop nearest you come early 2019— don’t miss it!