The Power of a Clear Trajectory in Descender 30

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Descender has a sense of trajectory unlike any other series I’ve ever read. From the very first issue, Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen have made their young protagonist, Tim-21, the focal point of the entire series — he’s not just the star, but he’s like the horizon point in a drawing, that one spot in the galaxy that all other figures are drawn to. Even as more and more characters have been introduced into Descender‘s world, all their various agendas have continued to lead straight to Tim-21. In Descender 30, Lemire and Nguyen continue to bring more and more factions drawing inevitably closer to Tim-21, all while upping the stakes — if Tim is captured, it’s not just his life that’s in danger, but the safety of the entire universe!This is because the UGC have created their own artificial Harvester, one which they need Tim-21’s codex to pilot. Not only does this create a new dilemma for the party who actually has Tim — will Telsa hand him over to the UGC or not? — but it redirects other parties who had become preoccupied with more pressing matters (war) back to Tim. If the Hardwire or Lord S’Lok can take or destroy Tim, they can also claim the Harvester, a weapon that could bring untold devastation to pretty much anything and everything that matters in the world of Descender. It’s a development that makes the rush for Tim-21 all the more frantic, and all the more urgent.

Lemire and Nguyen follow through on this premise, ending the issue with the Harvester being overwhelmed by the many parties currently seeking it, an incredibly literal depiction of the trajectory that has come to define Descender.

It’s like they’re drawn to it like a magnet! In many ways this issue is table-setting, moving about the many different pieces on Descender‘s playing field, but it’s fascinating table-setting, since every party involved has a slightly different, contradictory agenda that only complicates the scenario in intriguing ways. It promises fireworks as these various factions continue to collide and bounce off each other. Lemire and Nguyen back that promise up with action, though, by finally bringing their longest-running thread to a head. Tim-21 and his brother, Andy, finally reunite in an emotional climax, and that hug is everything readers have been hoping for: not just catharsis, but a final decision on Andy’s part as to how he feels about Tim-21.

Finally seeing Tim and Andy meet after literal years spent teasing the moment is not only a satisfying climax, but a promise to readers that Lemire and Nguyen are going to follow through on the other plots they’ve patiently, steadily been threading throughout the series, and especially throughout these past few issues. It’s so much fun to see a world-builder of Lemire’s caliber work, to see him set up his dominoes and anticipate how they’re eventually going to fall. In Descender, the set-up is just as fun as the resolution.

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