COMICS REVIEW: "Ascender #1"

Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen begin world-building straight away in Ascender #1, the follow-up to Image's Descender (2015). If you haven't been keeping up with Lemire's previous series, check out this handy history/timetable infographic provided by Image Comics:

This history-map provides a great insight into the story world that Lemire and Nguyen have built for the past thirty-two issues. Essentially though, in the future, humans and sentient robots had a... falling out, and robots are no longer welcome in the new world of which we, the reader, are now a part.

"Ascender #1" Cover

This first issue of the sequel introduces us to magic, mischief, and Mother. The story begins on a planet once ruled by the United Galactic Council and ends on the planet Sampson, with our main character, Mila. Mila dreams of the days when robots and humans lived among each other because, despite the decimation of humankind, there was some harmony between the two life forms. The issue ends with a BANG! and we and Mila are left wondering if her wishes are more of a reality than she thought.

Not having read Descender did not take away my enjoyment in reading this issue. The story pushes us right in, using dialogue rather than prose and third-person narration to set the story. When comics do this, it can be a bit confusing, but straight away I was enamored: who is Mother? What's this magic and sorcery? What galaxy are we in? And so on. As it goes on, questions are answered, slowly, and we learn more about where we are and who the major players will be. Having that chart (see above) handy makes for an even more interesting read, but it feels like the way Lemire and Nguyen are going will catch the reader up pretty fast.

The art is superb. Nguyen's watercolors vibrantly paints each page, in a sort of counter-balance to the science fiction themes that we encounter. Though these are unfamiliar worlds to us, in another time and galaxy, the people and places are very rustic, almost medieval. Thus, the beautiful way in which this book is drawn, inked, and colored is a metaphor for that juxtaposition: science fiction and rustic living.

This series could shape up to be another hit for Lemire and Nguyen, and it's easy to see why. I highly recommend this book to fans of science fiction, fantasy, and Jeff Lemire... so pretty much anyone.

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