Published by Image Comics, and created by Jeff Lemire (the story) and Dustin Nguyen (the artwork), Descender is one of the greatest independent stories in the science fiction genre as it has beautiful art, amazing writing, great characters, and excellent foreshadowing and plot twists. This review of Descender is specifically of the the first trade paperback (which collects the first 6 issues) known as Tin Stars.
The plot of Descender Volume 1: Tin Stars is that 9 robots that are the size of planets called The Harvesters have been discovered orbiting the 9 planets in the universe that the entire Descender series takes place in. The Harvesters begin attacking the planets, and war ends up happening. The Harvesters vanish, and out of fear that all robots (as well as androids) in the galaxy could be connected to them, the 9 planets have become fascist societies that have destroyed and outlawed nearly every robot and android they can find. Years have passed and a android with the appearance of a very young male child named TIM-21 has woken up in a mining colony on a moon. Things seem alright for him at first, but bounty hunters suddenly appear to capture him. As it seems that all hope is lost for him as he gets shot by one of them, a robot who goes by the name of Driller wakes up from it’s slumber and kills the bounty hunters. While this is going on, on the planet Niyrata, a scientist named Dr. Jin Quon is recruited on a mission by two aliens named Telsa, and Tullis to find one of the androids of his TIM series that he created a long time ago before the Harvester war (that of course being TIM-21) because it’s believed that there is a true link to it, and The Harvesters. Jin, Telsa, and Tullis arrive at the moon that TIM-21 is, but end up getting attacked by Driller. They survive by stunning him, and finally find TIM-21 who’s still not active after the bounty hunter attack. They repair TIM-21 back on their ship, and tell him about why they need him. TIM-21 agrees to mission on the promise that they find his long friend who he considers to be his brother named Andy. Driller (who was also brought to the ship) is calmed down by TIM-21 to be friendly with Jin, Tullis, and Telsa, and the adventure of discovering the connection that TIM-21 has with the Harvesters is able to begin.
There is much more in this story, but I don’t want to say it because I really want to people to read this trade paperback without knowing way too much about it.
Descender Volume 1: Tin Stars is a good example of how to start an ongoing series as it doesn’t feel rushed in introducing the world, the characters, and the current plot.
Jeff Lemire has done a spectacular job at creating his own fictional universe, and his overall writing in Descender is very good as he perfectly allows the story to be filled with (like I said earlier) foreshadowing and plot twists that help make Descender fun to read.
The painted artwork by Dustin Nguyen (as I also said earlier) is beautiful to look at, and helps in creating Descender’s universe. This kind of art is also nice to see in a independent/creator-owned comic.
To me, Descender is the comic book equivalent of the Steven Spielberg movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence. While they are not entirely similar in characters, setting, and story, both are about protagonists that are androids with the appearance of young boys.
If you want to read a very good sci-fi story, please read Descender. It’s worth all your time and money.
I give Descender Volume 1 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.