Descender: Tin Stars TPB Vol 1
By Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen
Let me start by saying that I’m a little biased, as in Lemire and Nguyen have become my favorite writer and artist. Descender is a large part of this, but a quick search of Nguyen’s work will show you his talent. And read just about any of Lemire’s heartbreaking and beautiful works and you’ll see what I mean.
If you like Mass Effect, robots, or Star Wars, this really is a good book to pick up. And with Image’s Volume 1 introductory price point of only $9.99, it’s hard to pass up. It’s so good that the pitch by the creators at an event pre-Comic Con International in July 2014 sparked the interest of Hollywood and Sony picked up the movie rights in January 2015,before the first issue was even released that March.
–Reports now that all nine Harvesters have simultaneously vanished. We have no way of telling if or when they may return.
The 9 planets of the United Galactic Council (UGC) have been decimated by gigantic robots called Harvesters. Ten years after the obliteration of humanoid life on these planets, a young boy wakes up on a small mining colony moon. The boy turns out to be Tim-21, our protagonist, who was created by the shifty scientist Dr. Quon to be a companion bot. Tim was assigned to be a companion to a child named Andy who lived with his mother on the mining colony moon.
We are also introduced to Bandit, a robot dog who makes no sounds other than “ARF” and expresses his emotions via emoticons on its face, who is given to Tim-21 as a “birthday” gift.
Due to Tim-21’s reawakening, he is suddenly the target of several factions – including the UGC who dispatches Captain Telsa and Tullis, as well as bounty hunters called “scrappers” who hunt down any robots to scrap for cash, and an ominous force whose identity I cannot reveal, ‘cus that would be a spoiler!
The final cast member introduced in Tin Stars is Driller, who is a self-deprecating brute of a drilling machine who frequently exclaims “Driller is a real killer!”
Descender is a compelling tale of survival, adventure and mystery wrapped up in a space opera. Little is revealed in Volume 1 of the motives of the various factions, but we are given enough in the last issue to crave more. In the middle of the book, we are given some information on what exactly happened before the Harvesters arrived. This is a happy glimpse into the past and really gives Tim-21’s character some depth. Following this, we are given a foreboding dream of the future. This murky vision heightens the mystery of the Harvesters and forces a dozen questions into our heads.
Lemire’s writing is clean and uncluttered. We are given just enough information and dialogue to give us a riveting story and setup, but not so much as to confuse us or to dissuade us from turning page after page. Lemire’s use of the ‘page turn,’ one of the hallmarks of comic books, is well executed. It creates a series of miniature cliffhangers highlighted with the alternating pages of current events and flashbacks. This tool gives us glimpses of what was woven into the perils of the present.
Equally, if not more impressive, is the art by Dustin Nguyen. The entirety of the book is done with watercolors very clearly without much use of digital interference. It makes a strong case for analog art, which in my opinion, is superior to digital. The color palette is largely grays and browns with some smattering of red, highlighting the run-down nature of most of the galaxy. Certainly none of the locations are places that I would wish to visit.
The worlds visited in this first volume allow the reader to imagine a vast galaxy of which we are only privy to seeing a handful planets. The back of the book provides a key to the 9 planets of the UGC, detailing some of the places which we have yet to, but yearn to see.
In essence, Tin Stars thrusts us into a galaxy in turmoil and features an unlikely hero in a robot that looks and behaves like a 10-year old. The small cast of supporting characters each bring things to the team and provide unique glimpses into the past. As the series matures, we look forward to learning more about each of them. The appetizer that is Tin Stars adequately prepares us for the feast that is the Descender galaxy. Lemire and Nguyen have created this universe that pulls us down into Descender.
Descender: Tin Stars
MSRP $9.99 – available at local comic shops and large booksellers such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon.