Writer: Jeff Lemire / Artist: Dustin Nguyen / Image Comics
The long-awaited return to Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s rich galaxy has finally arrived. But things are very different from the last time we were here.
Some time has definitely passed, as some familiar locations have been neglected so long that vegetation has grown over towering cityscapes. There’s also no more technology. No ships. No robots. No appliances. Our biggest evidence that lets us know how long it’s been is Andy. He’s the one constant so far that connects both series. In Descender, he was a young scrapper turned rebel who helped the oppressed robots fight for their freedom. And so far in Ascender, he’s a grizzled middle-aged man who’s seen a little bit too much. He’s also got a daughter named Mila, our new protagonist. And she looks a lot like Tim-21. With Andy as our barometer, we can guess that it’s been about 15-20 years since the events of Descender.
This galaxy is so different from when we last saw it. It’s almost the polar opposite. Lemire and Nguyen have created a universe that explores what comes after technology. And it’s as fascinating a concept as it is in their execution. Because we’re in the thick of a technological revolution right now in real life, it’s hard to imagine what life would be like in a world that had advanced mechanics, and then lost it. That’s a huge vacuum, and there would have to be something void to fill. But the two things that take its place are the two things that make the most sense: magic and religion. Already in the first issue, those are both major themes. It’ll be really interesting to see how those things are explored and exploited throughout the duration of the series.
Dustin Nguyen has an entirely new playground to work with. His art has always been such an important part of this series. It simply wouldn’t be half of what it is without it. And the fact that he can swap in the cold metallic colors with more vibrant saturated ones opens up so much more to explore in this new, yet familiar world.
If Descender was about the end of a way of life, Ascender is definitely about the beginning of a new one. With Mila, we’re about to see a familiar world through a young uncorrupted set of eyes. And that might just be what the universe needs if it’s gonna finish this transition into a new age with as little bumps as possible.
Ascender was worth the wait for anyone patiently biding their time until this powerhouse creative team returned to this beloved universe. Is it different? At the surface, yes. But at its heart, this is still a story about a beacon of hope in a bleak world.
10 Jaded Father Figures out of 10
If you’re reading Ascender, check up with BNP’s reviews of Descender here.