Thursday, March 30, 2017

Descender, Vol. 3: Singularities by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen

I keep thinking that I've been avoiding reading SF, but that's not true at all. I mean, look at what I've read this month -- World of Edena, 100%,  the second volume of Paper Girls, this book. That's a lot of SF, in different modes and styles, from trippy inner-space to wide-screen space opera to small-scale lived-in to high concept time war.

So maybe I've just been avoiding prose SF, and I'll have to dig into that sometime later.

Because today I have Descender, Vol. 3: Singularities to write about, the third volume collecting the ongoing SFnal comic by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen, and it is frankly awesome.

This book breaks any rules I would have suggested for it: it collects five issues of the series, and every single one is a flashback. The overall plot doves forward only an infinitesimal amount from the end of Vol. 2 to the end of this book -- one or two moments -- so this could easily be seen as spinning wheels.

Instead, it feels like Lemire said, "OK, you think you know who these people are, but let me tell you some new things." So we learn about Tim-22, and Telsa, and Bandit, and Andy, and Driller. ("Driller's a real killer" turns out to be the Hodor of this series.) And what was sliding towards big-explosion space opera, full of big moments that might not have been as earned as they should be, suddenly snaps back into a story about people trapped in a dangerous, complicated universe, with competing loyalties and ideas and plans and needs. And a lot of really destructive hardware to put teeth in those competitions.

Look, if you're just reading this post cold you have no idea who those people are. I know. You can go back to my posts on the first and second books for more details, definitely. But this series is both good comics and good SF -- fairly soft, with planet-sized robots and casual FTL, but entirely respectable -- so you frankly should just read the thing. Lemire tells great stories and Nguyen makes great images.

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