Love Doesn’t Conquer All in Descender 32

by Spencer Irwin

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

Much like our own, the world of Descender is full of prejudice, hatred, and war. These various traits all fuel each other in some sort of endless, infinite loop — the only way to break the cycle is to come together, to learn from each other, to empathize with each other, to love instead of hate. Like in so many stories — and, again, perhaps like our own world as well — love is the answer, but it’s not a solution that comes easily. In Descender 32, the final issue of Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s saga, love may be the answer, but love doesn’t conquer all. Continue reading

A Widescreen World in Descender 24

by Spencer Irwin

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

The action of Descender 24 takes place on a new world to the series, a small, fringe planetoid known as Woch. And while the issue gives writer Jeff Lemire a chance to sharpen his focus a bit to just Driller (and eventually to reintroduce a bit-player who will seemingly become an important villain in the future), my favorite part of this issue is just getting to see Dustin Nguyen bring life to yet another new world, one with landscapes and features unlike any we’ve seen before. It’s no wonder that he uses so many double-page spreads this month — it’s the only way to fit that much wonder onto the page. Continue reading

Descender 16


Today, Ryan D. and Spencer are discussing Descender 16, originally released October 26th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan D: Descender 16 drops the reader directly into the past, without even stopping to say hello to the cast from last issue’s focus on Andy and Effie/Queen Between. From the cover and the lovely introductory spread, it is clear right away that it is now Driller’s turn to get the spotlight treatment. As soon as we see the two robots being dropped from orbit into the Dirishu Mining Colony, it became very clear to me where this issue was heading: we met Driller alone on the planet, so something needs to take us from Driller having companionship to its solitary, human-hating life. Though the arc seemed fairly obvious, it was still a treat to see this robot get some well-deserved further characterization, not to mention the big reveal at the end. Continue reading

Descender 10

Alternating Currents: Descender 10, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Descender 10, originally released February 10th, 2016.

Drew: While I can appreciate its visual wizardry, I’ve always been baffled at the morality of The Matrix. Never mind the half-baked philosophy of “there is no spoon” or the stoner profundity of wondering whether reality really is an illusion, it’s the vilification of the robots that really confuses me. Objectively, the humans are the bad guys, the fickle creators who try to destroy the sentient life they’ve created. The robots, on the other hand, keep the humans alive and comfortable, albeit in an oddly complex simulation. For all of the explicit Christ imagery surrounding Neo, he represents the robots’ Antichrist, a being sent by the creator(s) to end life as they know it. Can we blame the robots for wanting to avoid that?

Descender‘s inversion of the morality of The Matrix hooked me from the start. Instead of relying on our knee-jerk identification with the human characters, Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen have intentionally played against our expectations. Tim-21’s humanity is the core of this series (even as they highlight how odd it is), while the humans are often depicted as racist, unscrupulous, or hapless beings driven by fear and distrust. This challenges our notions of humanity and morality in ways that The Matrix never bothers to. Of course, Lemire and Nguyen’s desire to thwart our expectations finds them reversing The Matrix yet again, as Tim-21 is revealed to be the robots’ own version of The One. Continue reading

Descender 9

descender 9

Today, Spencer and Ryan D. are discussing Descender 9, originally released January 13th, 2016.

Spencer: Despite all the differences between the numerous species of aliens that exist within the world of Descender, they’re united by one fact: they’re not robots. The war between robots and non-robots has been the conflict at the core of Descender since its genesis, but there’s one character who doesn’t clearly fall on either side of that conflict: Tim-21. As far back as the first issue we’ve noticed how Tim-21 was designed to appear as human as possible, but in Descender 9 Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen finally dig into how Tim-21’s alliances with both sides of the conflict make him feel. Continue reading