Descender by Jeff Lemire

This one has been out for a while. I remember when it first came out I thought the cover looked really cool, as you know that is a giant selling point for me. Not only that but the title was also cool and mysterious as well, so I never had a chance with this one. There was no way I was not going to check this one out.

Jeff Lemire is one of the bright talents in comics at the moment. I have read a few of his titles (Underwater Welder and Sweet Tooth) and he is certainly a
great story teller. He has written for a few different titles for DC as well as a few of his own titles including this one. One of his most famous books Essex County had its rights bought and was set to become a television show. It seems that not matter what Lemire comes up with everyone wants in on it. Certainly I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for Jeff.

The story opens up introducing a futuristic system of planets inhabited by all different sorts of beings. Within in a few pages giant planet sized robots appear seemingly out of nowhere and destroy much of the civilization on the system. The story then fast forwards 15 years after the incident as the planets struggle to figure out what happened and also are living in constant fear that the so called Harvester robots will return. Because of the attacks there is a hatred of anything robotic and any robots that are found are destroyed on the spot. A  bot named Tim 21 who was designed to be a companion for young children is one of the last
robots in the system, along with his robo-dog. The story follows Tim 21 along with his creator Quan, and an elite team of agents sent on a special mission to find Tim 21.What is so special about Tim 21 and why is everyone in the system after him.

Lemire is a great writer and has put together an even better story. His ability to keep the reader engaged and move the story forward is uncanny. There is a lot going on in the first few pages but it quickly comes together while building in more and more mystery as the story progresses. I am jealous and impressed with how this comic is written, extremely well written as a matter of fact from a story telling perspective. I cannot stress that enough, one of my favorite reads this year.

While the story is great, there are also some great philosophical and thought provoking aspects in the story. One in particular sparked me to write a whole other post on that aspect (coming soon). This, yet again, is why I love reading. You never know what you will come across in what you are reading. My Random Thoughts post about The AI Condition came directly from this comic. So get out there and read more, keep reading even if it is not very good, ya just never know when you may come across a life changing idea. I would love to talk more about this but it is a little off topic for the review, so check out the post if you are interested in AI and the like.

Another aspect that Lemire does a fantastic job of is getting the reader to believe and like the characters. Despite most of them being robots they are very relatable in terms of their thoughts and emotions. I know it is far fetched for robots to have emotions but while reading this one you don’t even give it a second thought. There are some great characters in this one as well. That is one thing that I always find interesting in any book I read, the characters. This one certainly has no shortage of awesome and unique characters.

The artwork in this one is really cool. Generally I do not really like watercolor style artwork in comics, but man I have to admit it works really well with this one. The actual drawing style is a minimalist in terms of detail. Which, again, I usually do not like, but again it works great here. And honestly that is only true for certain scenes. In some scenes there is more detail than in other scenes, which is a little strange but again works just fine. I will also say that I think not every bit of color is done in watercolor. There looks to be some kind of marker or, I am obviously not an artist, something other than watercolor.

What I also think is really cool is that a lot of the lighting effects are created by leaving out color in special places. So instead of showing where the light is hitting by coming back in with a white color, the artist just left the color out altogether. It is really cool and you may not notice unless you stare at it for a second. Again I am not an artist and not sure if this is normal or easy or a hard technique to master. To my untrained eye it looks like it would be more difficult to color enough to get the point across then leave strategic points without color so as to show lighting effects. I think it is neat but I may just be over blowing a simple artist trick. The page layouts are fairly normal nothing over the top. There are some cool full page splashes that are cool but nothing out of the ordinary. One thing I did notice is that some pages do not use the typical comic boxes, this is nothing out of the ordinary, but combined with the color technique you get something that looks like a Star Wars cover. Pretty neat. 

I am a firm believer that there are certain styles that would work with better stories and genres. And I think that idea is true here. This style works perfectly with the futuristic landscapes and spaceship hulls, and technological society that is portrayed in the book. Would another style work here, sure, but this one is very
unique and will certainly get people talking. To my untrained eye the mixing of a few different styles really make for a cool style and creates a visually unique experience for the reader, where they can fully enjoy the futuristic world Lemire has created.

I read that Sony acquired the movie rights to this story. Which while reading this story you can almost how this will look on screen. The visuals are great in this one and I hope that we will get to see this one on the big screen in the near future.

I highly recommend this book. The story is awesome combined with some superb and unique artwork that will keep the reader engaged and wondering what is going to happen next. This is an on going series and I hope that I can keep reading this one n the future. I think I man just wait until the series is finished and buy the entire series and just read it straight through. No matter how you want to do it you will not be disappointing.

Manik

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