Publisher: Image Comics
Writer, Alternate Cover: Jeff Lemire
Art, Colours, Cover: Dustin Nguyen
Lettering: Steve Wands
Let’s say it now, so it is out of the way: yes, the cover does indeed remind of A.I., the not-so-successful 2001 Steven Spielberg film. The resemblances, though, are minimal.
Now, what is Descender about?
The story opens on the planet Niyrata, where something unbelievable happens. We don’t get to see what (yet), because first we meet Dr. Quon, the most important authority on robots in the whole United Galactic Council. Quon is called to give his educated opinion on this incredible event, something we also finally get to see: a robot that looks bigger than the planet itself has suddenly appeared pretty much out of nowhere. Some pages and a surprise (that I’ll leave to you to discover) later, we fast forward a bunch of years and we go to a tiny moon inhabited by a single… erm… being: a child that looks a lot like the robot on the cover.
This first issue of Descender asks a huge series of questions, that will obviously be what will carries the whole series in the next months, and gives absolutely no answers. Which is good, because the suspense will make the readers want to buy the next issue so they find out more.
The art, by Dustin Nguyen, is outstanding. Everything is inked and then painted by hand, giving the sensation of looking at a series of small (or less small) pieces of art rather than at the illustrations for a comic. On some, rare occasions, this can be slightly confusing – but it is a price well worth paying.
Usually the work of a letterer is considered a given: as long as he or she doesn’t make any mistake and is readable, we just take it for granted. In this case, however, Steve Wands spectacularly gives a specific “voice” (that is, a slightly different font) to each character. When a computer speaks, the letters are very artificial, often on coloured backgrounds; but when it is a person, well, the tone of voice is brilliantly suggested.
Is there anything wrong with this first issue of Descender, then? Well, the story is still a little muddy. It could be due to teething problems, or for the fact that Jeff Lemire wanted to open a lot of subplots destined to intersect sooner or later, but probably this is the main weakness of this book. Which is not a major problem, of course – not if things start getting clearer in the next issues, anyway.
Definitely a book worth buying, not only if you like to own every possible #1 (there are people who do) but also if you want to be puzzled and intrigued by an interesting vision of a probably very remote future.