Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #86: Descender, Vol. 4 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen

At some point, writing about an ongoing series becomes gibberish to the uninformed and spoilers to the slightly behind. (Maybe not both at exactly the same moment, but both eventually.) I'd like to think that can still be a long way off, that I can spin out interesting things to say about the fourth volume collecting a SFnal comic, but it's not me that will be the judge of that.

A lot of plot has come before we hit the first page of Descender, Vol. 4: Orbital Mechanics -- by the way, does that title feel like it's just a random skiffy-sounding reference? asking for a friend -- full of character and incident and shocking revelations and worldbuilding and all that good stuff. (See my posts on the first and second and third volumes for more details of the good stuff.)

We're also into serious split-the-party multi-threaded plotting here: as we begin, TIM-21 is running away from TIM-22 on Machine Moon, while Telsa and Quon are trying to escape that same place, seeing as how they're meat-based organisms and the robots take a dim view of that. Meanwhile, Andy has reunited with his now-cyborged ex-girlfriend Effie and is back on 21's trail. That sounds like they're all going to get together, doesn't it?

But no -- writer Jeff Lemire has plenty more complications to work through in this space-opera universe, so any tearful (or gunfire-filled) reunions will have to wait for a while. We're still in frying-pan-into-fire mode here, as nearly all of the characters we're supposed to like are in worse positions by the end of the book. I have to admit I wonder how long Lemire can keep that up: eventually, everybody is going to get killed or the last-second escapes will get silly. But, for now, there's enough stuff going on in this universe to keep it all plausible.

Artist Dustin Nguyen is still chugging along here -- I particularly like his use of color in this book to indicate mood and environment. It's a seemingly small thing that can be very effective, particularly when one person is making all of the art.

I still hope that Descender has a specific story to tell, with a real ending -- that it's not going to just spin out complications for as long as people will buy it. The only way to tell that will be through time; we'll have to wait and see. For now, this is still an excellent space opera in comics form.

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