A new story arc kicks off with an emotional flashback of Tim-22’s past, offering insight into his motivations for wanting Tim-21 scrapped.
Series co-creator Jeff Lemire has always been known as a writer capable of making two dimensional characters come to life in a humanistic manner. Descender #12 proves to be another fine display of his unique gift. As “Singularities”, the new story arc in the series, kicks off, Lemire seizes the opportunity to do a bit of character development before picking up where the last arc, “Machine Moon”, left us. Rather than take the easy way out and pick up the story where #11 left readers anxiously awaiting the fate of Tim-21 at the hands of his robot brother Tim-22, readers are treated to a gut-wrenching backstory.
Descender #11 showed Tim-22 as a wicked robot, hell-bent on exterminating Tim-21, who he felt was stealing too much attention from Psius, the leader of the robot revolution. For three months Lemire left readers with the belief that Tim-22 is pure evil and wants Tim-21 out of the picture for selfish reasons. However, the first half of Descender #12 paints a clear image of just what drove Tim-22 to attack Tim-21 so hatefully. I found myself empathizing with a robot as he suffered abuse after abuse, at the hands of a human who feared the robot just as much as the robot feared him. When Psius finally offers Tim-22 a refuge, it’s obvious why he fears Tim-21 stealing away any of his attention and affection. This is where Jeff Lemire’s writing truly shines.
That being said, when Lemire jumps back to the cliff-hanger he ended #11 with, no amount of sympathy for Tim-22 will lead me to root for him as he attempts to remove Tim-21 from the picture. Although, I’m hoping we will see Tim-22 see the error in his ways and develop into an ally of Tim-21’s (assuming he doesn’t kill him first).
Descender is unlike any comic out right now and it’s not just Lemire’s writing that’s to credit. Series co-creator Dustin Nguyen’s illustrations look like watercolor paint on canvas. The first time I saw his unique artistic approach on the cover of Descender #1, I was instantly hooked. What better way to bring a futuristic sci-fi series to life than to use an art form that’s over 500 years old? Nguyen masterfully sets the tone for each panel with muted colors, taking advantage of the visible texture of the canvas. Did I forget to mention Nguyen’s background as a conceptual toy artist? It certainly proves advantageous and offers him a unique perspective as he brings robots and aliens of all kinds to life.
Steve Wands holds up his end of the bargain too with unique lettering that serves as a voice signature of sorts for robots, humans, and aliens alike. Just like every voice you hear is distinct and recognizable, the text bubbles Wands letters feel like unique voice boxes in two dimension illustration format. Descender #12 is a great example of how Wands adds a little extra bounce to the series.
Jeff Lemire gets his third story arc off to an incredible start. His signature humanistic writing is on full display. Dustin Nguyen continues to deliver a unique artistic style that fits not only the sci-fi genre perfectly, but this specific series as well. Traditionally, I would be a bit frustrated that I waited three months for a cliffhanger to be resolved only to find myself still hanging from the same cliff. However, Tim-22’s backstory was well worth reading and provided context I didn’t know I needed. If you haven’t checked out this series, this is a great jumping on point (but do yourself a favor and start at Descender #1.
- Jeff Lemire plays reader's heart strings like a violin
- Dustin Nguyen’s refreshing artistic style is not only unique, but perfectly suited for this series
- Steve Wands lettering gives each character their own unique voice
- Readers must wait another month to find out if Tim-21 will survive Tim-22’s rage