Comics Beat: Descender # 20 Review

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Descender issue 20 cover art

Welcome to Comics Beat, in which we review comic books a few times throughout the week. Individual issues, collections, graphic novels – they’re all good enough for our comic geeks to cover.

A word from Jonathan

I don’t get to my local comic shop as often as I’d like. For years, I used to be an every-Wednesday type. But over the past few years, I’ve become more of an every coupla weeks kind of guy.

Skipping a week or two isn’t too a big deal when your Local Comic Shop (here’s mine) pulls most of your titles for you. I apparently buy a buttload of titles, though. After three or four weeks, they build-up quickly! Here’s a picture.

So, because I buy a buttload of comics somewhat regularly, I’m going to pick out a couple of titles each time, and talk about them. Some of these might be a few weeks old, and there will most likely be a few spoilers mentioned – just FYI.

Descender #20 (Image)

Series Description: One young robot’s struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. A rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey that pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling space opera from the creators of Trillium, Sweet Tooth, and Little Gotham.

Issue #20 is called ORBITAL MECHANICS (Part four of five).

The fate of Driller is revealed, and the big robot meets a weird swamp hermit named Pelliot P. Mizerd. Meanwhile, Tim-21 is a prisoner of the Robot Resistance, and his evil doppelganger, Tim-22, has sneakily joined UGC Captain Telsa and the disgraced fraud, Dr. Jin Quon, as they escaped the Machine Moon, on the hunt for Dr. Solomon and the ancient machine he based his robot designs on.

Meanwhile, Andy (Tim-21’s long lost human “brother”) and his ex-wife, the cyborg cult leader known as The Queen Between, are with Bandit, the robot “dog”, and the alien bounty hunter, Blugger, chasing Tim-21. At least, they thought they were. But then Bandit receives a secret message from Tim-21, revealing Tim-22’s deception. Unfortunately, they may be too late to stop the murderous little robot…

Descender is a comic that has been quietly and continually awesome for a few years now. Dustin Nguyen’s illustrations, and his dreamy watercolors, invoke the sterile Apple-like designs, the dangerous weight of heavy machinery robotics, and the dusty hard-scrabble of distant worlds, all with the same ease. Jeff Lemire, meanwhile, takes a robot built to be child’s companion, and places it at the center of a story about lies, intrigues, and galactic conflict in a wrecked and slowly unraveling space empire, giving it real emotions.

This is a great series, especially for fans of space opera. However, this particular issue maybe isn’t the best jumping on point, as it’s not only the penultimate episode of a story-arc, it also seems poised on the edge of completing several longer character arcs too. For more familiar readers, this is an exciting time, but new readers probably won’t have much to connect with.

The only plot line that seems like it might be a new thread is Driller’s, because he just finished his major storyline in the previous issue. I have no idea what the plan might be for a giant human-hating construction robot and weird swamp hermit that kind of looks like a frog, but I guess we’ll see.

Author: Jonathan Hansen

Last of the V-8 Interceptors. Writes stories for free, and works day jobs for money. Always trying to ice skate uphill. Occasionally surly.