Writer: Jeff Lemire / Artist: Dustin Nguyen / Image Comics
Issue #2 of Ascender has descended upon us, and it plants us further into this new world by introducing some conflict for our main characters.
I’m not gonna lie, I forgot how good this book was. This series was gone for so long that I had forgotten just how effortless Lemire and Nguyen’s collective craft is. Like, this seems like a cakewalk to them. They’re both very particular about what they say and what they show to the point that you forget you’re reading a comic book at times and instead you feel like you’re actually transported to this galaxy.
Probably the strongest aspect of this series, which was on stellar display this issue, is the less is more approach to the writing that Lemire takes. A lot of times, writers tend to overwrite with exposition and narration. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can make reading a comic feel like a chore when you leave so much on the table in terms of what can be shown to us on the page rather than told to us. Lemire understands this, probably because he’s also an artist, and it pays dividends to what we get to consume as a reader. Sometimes what people don’t understand is that just because there may not be a lot of words on a particular page, doesn’t mean that that page wasn’t written by the writer. Showing restraint in what you actually write as opposed to what you direct really amplifies the integrity of your story.
Something that I thought was brilliant about this issue was that it was really only three scenes. One with Mila finding Bandit, another that further conveys how evil the new big bad ominously named Mother is, and then a final scene where Mother’s henchman storm Andy’s farm because they tracked Bandit. All three of these scenes standalone perfectly but also fit together like puzzle pieces. Giving us three powerful scenes worked wonders for the pacing of the issue as well. No moment felt too long, and they gave us enough time to get the information we needed from Dustin Nguyen’s art as opposed to a rushed exposition.
Something I like to do when I start to review a new series is to find its perfect musical counterpart to listen along as I read. When I was reviewing Descender, the Interstellar OST meshed with the story as seamless as peanut butter and jelly. And in the month since this series debuted, I’ve been looking for something that matches what I feel like while reading the book. So far, the best fit for me has been the Annihilation score. It’s atmospheric in a way that feels mad unsettling, and it relies on sounds that feel more natural than they do artificial. Thematically, it’s a damn good fit. Ascender so far is about what happens after the end of the world, when technology is gone and people are forced to live off of instinct and skill to get by. There’s something familiar about it, and yet a little eerie as well. The Annihilation score really amplifies those themes
Ascender #2 gives us a short reunion between some lifelong friends and fan favorites while further planting the seeds of this series’ big bad.
9.5 Religious Cults out of 10
Reading Ascender? Find BNP’s other reviews here.