During the past few months I have been dipping my hands in comic books not published by DC Comics and Marvel. One of the comics that has stood out from all the new comics I’ve tried has been Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s Descender. This series has delivered something completely different from other comics being published. Now will Descender #5 deliver on the promise it has developed or will it finally falter? Time to find out.
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
The Good: It was bit surprising that as soon as I opened Descender #5 that this was not the ending of the first arc. Instead this arc has now been extended to a sixth issue. But as Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen move forward with the story they have created you get to understand why this first arc needed a sixth part, especially after this issues ending.
What’s made the universe that Lemire and Nguyen have created with Descender so fascinating is the mystery behind the events of this series. Even as the story begins to peel back the layers in the time gap between the opening of the first issue and the rest of the story there are even more questions to be asked. Descender #5 further capitalizes on this mystery as it adds layers to what has previously been developed.
One of the most interesting layers that Descender #5 added was with our first real look at how the United Galactic Council works. Until now we have only heard what the UGC is about since the disaster that struck the universe. Now that we have seen how shaky things are between Tesla’s dad and all the other major leaders it has added extra urgency to what Tesla mission.
Adding the fact that Tesla’s dad wanted Tim was to analyze him to create a robotic system to combat the threat of this series also makes you realize how desperate people are in this universe. It’s a revelation that also gives further layers into how much time has passed since the great disaster. It also makes you wonder how many different failed things the UGC has tried to get to such a desperate point that they would use machines to fight machines.
On the other side of things, the Scrappers and their king provided this story an interesting wild card. While the Scrappers are clearly not good guys Lemire is careful enough that you sort of get the why of what they did in this issue. In a universe where robots destroyed countless things it’s no surprise that a group like the Scrappers would exist.
At the same time I like the little things that Lemire did to make the Scrappers a separate society from the UGC. Whereas the UGC are doing their best to maintain control the Scrappers are now reveling in the chaos. Seeing the Thunderdome-styled arena was a great little touch to show us how the Scrappers operate.
Through this entire mess it made Tim’s continued robotic innocence standout even more. Tim’s whole perspective on who he is and the connection he has with Dr. Quon provides an interesting dichotomy to how he is viewed. Tim’s reaction to the torture Dr. Quon goes through made the hook ending even more meaningful.
And what a hook ending it was. Now that we know that Dr. Quon is not in fact the true creator of robots it brings up the question of who is. It also makes you wonder how much of a genius Dr. Quon really is. Because while he has to have talent to be able to reproduce the robotic plans did he know enough to read something that could possibly have a secret that he couldn’t decipher.
Through all of this the constant force that moves this entire story forward continues to be Dustin Nguyen fabulous artwork. He injects so much life to the story with his an art style that you don’t really see from any other comic book. From the way he draws King S’Nok and the Scrappers to the members of the UGC you truly feel like you’re visiting another universe. Even humanoid characters like Tesla and Tim have a different feel to them thanks to how Nguyen is able to capture all the different facial reactions that’s distinct to each character.
The Bad: As this series moves forward I want to see Tim evolve pass his whole companion boat mentality. The ending of this issue could very well serve as a catalyst for that type of character development. As of now Tim has not gone beyond what we saw him be in the opening chapter and it’s making him look like a one-dimensional character in a universe filled with depth.
Overall: I can’t say enough good things about Descender #5. While I came into this issue expecting the end of a story arc I’m glad to see that things aren’t being rushed. Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen continue to find ways to add to the mythology of the Descender’s universe. The way Lemire and Nguyen do so is in a natural way that keeps the story moving forward with a purpose. The ending of this issue only made me even more excited to see how everything plays out in this universe.