Story: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dustin Nguyen
Letterer: Steve Wands
What They Say:
“THE DEAD SEA,” Part Four. The evil “Mother” may rule the universe with an iron hand, but even mothers were young once—and after growing up on an ice-covered planet, it’s easy to see why she might have an ice-covered heart, too.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With Ascender having moved forward quite a few years it also added a number of new characters to the already expansive cast. The side of the series focusing on magic hasn’t been as well dealt with as I would have liked at this point but Jeff Lemire is starting to dig into that a bit more. This installment has him focusing on the Mother character near-exclusively and that helps to flesh a few things out nicely. It’s a chance for Dustin Nguyen to do something a little different as well as we get to see different aspects of the character over her journey and some really neat world visual designs and how the elders are handled.
With the attack that we saw before that took down the various mothers that serve under Mother, she’s now at a loss as to what’s really happened in a way. The problem is that in order to understand it she has to be guided. It’s a bit of a magical mystery tour but the child version of herself has come to take her to the past and show her the journey she was on. It’s one that works well to explore how she was the outcast while her sister with beautiful red hair was the chosen one, given all the training and all the attention. The unnamed Mother as a child wasn’t exactly conniving but would do things to try and curry favor but she was universally scorned and reviled, used and little more than that when you get down to it. It’s not an unfamiliar tale but it plays well here.
We do see as time goes on how her sister was part of something larger in the years before the attacks by the robots. The energy of the elders foretells of their chance to claim the power again and bring magic back to the galaxy and they’re grooming Mother’s sister for that as she’s adept at all that’s needed. All the little moments serve to show the jealousies and more of how the group dynamic worked and the path that it put them all on so that when the opportunity arose, Mother would be the one to seize it, betraying her sister and the others in order to claim the power. But we’ve seen how it’s only been used to some effect in the years since as opposed to what you’d think it truly capable of. And that becomes the hint here as her younger self and then the returned visage of her sister wants to head down the path to understanding where the magic comes from, which will bring about real power.
Ascender fills in a few more blanks from what’s gone on since the end of Descender and I like that it’s able to do that while also charting a course forward. There are some neat moments in here and I like getting to know a bit more of Mother’s path so that we understand her as a character more but also of the nature of her power and how she came to it as it’s quite telling. Lemire keeps things moving well with what unfolds here in doing exposition and backstory while still keeping it pretty exciting. Which is easy when you’re working with Dustin Nguyen as the pages are rich in detail and design and I love the color choices that are used.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Image Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: February 12th, 2020