Story: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dustin Nguyen
Letterer: Steve Wands
What They Say:
The critically acclaimed, bestselling saga of DESCENDER comes to a shocking conclusion in this final issue that will leave the universe of Tim-21 reeling. But as darkness consumes the galaxy, a new hope arises…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Descender draws to a close with this issue and it’s one that feels like it’s come too suddenly, too quickly. Jeff Lemire has told an engaging story for me across its run, especially with the single character focus issues, and the reveal that we’re getting another series after this with Ascender set ten years later has me excited. What he and Dustin Nguyen do with this installment, however, is what I really enjoy with books in that it does bring everything to an end. While I don’t go out seeking “downer” ending books or stories, there’s a lot to like about them because they are generally rare overall in the grand scheme of storytelling. What makes them work for me, as it does here, is that it opens up for a radically different way to follow it up with something more.
As a finale, Descnder covers a lot of ground. The Harvester side of things have simply reached their limit with what the sentient species are up to in regards to mankind and they’ve come to put an end to it since the final hope they had given was squandered. This plays out in a really interesting way as they basically teleport all the machinekind into their space and then set to disappear into the galaxy at large. The drama unfolds with TIM-21 not wanting to go but finally giving in if they’ll let his friends stay alive. But even here we get Effie doing her best to go with them because she sees it as survival and because she hasn’t felt human in a long time. Seeing her failing at this is heartrending in its own way, but it’s well balanced by how she and Andy get close for at least a little bit. There’s an awkwardness to how Effie handles all of this but it feels realistic in that she’d try anything to stay alive and look for a real hope of it.
The unfolding events are the kind of large scale storytelling pieces that I like. As told by someone outside of the story that we meet at the end, and is the focal point of Ascender, what we see here is how the various worlds crumbled and their populations eradicated almost completely. It’s a frightening thing to try and wrap your head around to go from a billion people to just under half a million, and to figure out how things would progress from there. That’s not covered here but the reality is that existence does continue and the survivors, what few there are, will do all they can to survive. Seeing some of this through the small storyteller’s point of view here gives it that dark fairytale ending that I think is appropriate, even if it’s not where I thought the series might go when I first started it.
The end of Descender may be the kind that comes with a whimper while showcasing a bang but it delights me to know end. I can figure out and understand why it may not play well with some readers but Lemire and Nguyen deliver a strong closing point for me that feels authentic in a way that a lot of other stories don’t. And if it really is a kind of halfway point of the larger story with the Ascender series moving things forward ten years later when it hits next year then I’m very excited to see what we have next. I really love the team and the work that was put together here as it felt unique and engaging in a way a lot of series struggle to get close to. Dustin Nguyen’s art style alone made this one of the best series I’ve read the last few years and just getting more of Jeff Lemire’s writing on the original side is a huge plus. Definitely a standout series for me.
Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Image Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: July 25th, 2018