By Ben Snyder
With Telsa drowning, Andy and crew engaged in a heated space fight with the Hardwire fleet, and Tim-21 held hostage by the Hardwire Descender #22 begins the much-publicized “Rise of the Robots” arc. Dustin Nguyen continues to deliver some of the best and unique visuals in any book right now and Jeff Lemire’s plot doesn’t deviate too much and delivers a straightforward and surprising set-up issue.
While I was originally not very enthused with the beginning of this issue seeing as it was standard recap and mostly Dr. Quon and Telsa’s story, who I find to continually have the weaker stories, as soon as Lemire puts the Countdown clock on the screen the intensity and interest also began. The countdown began a brilliant sequence of action.
My biggest complaint of Descender so far has been how little action there actually is. Yes there have been many instances of intense situations, but I feel like for the most part these have been grossly outweighed by setup, especially as many are still recovering from the flashback arc. But the countdown clock lets everyone know, S**** going down. Quon’s robot arm goes berserk and rips off Tim-22’s head and spine and Andy and company are presumable caught in a fatal explosion from the hardwire.
It did get a bit confusing why General Nagoki and his fleet are watching the skirmish. Descender has so many moving parts that it often becomes difficult to keep track of, especially when some of them feel like afterthoughts General Nagoki and Andy’s ex/ Leader of a human/cyborg militia Effie. Effie’s character upsets me the most because she could be the star of her own series but continually feels inconsequential as she is lumped in with Andy and Blugger, often-contributing nothing but a surprised face.
When I first picked up Descender, the first aspect that blew me away was the art, and Nguyen somehow continues to deliver. While sometimes it looks bland or washed out there are few, if no other comic book that looks like Descender. With the watercolor aesthetic, Nguyen is able to depict such detail while leaving ambiguity. We can still make out Effie’s fear as she finds out her fate, despite her not having pupils or a lower jaw. Nguyen is even able to draw Psius, a fanatical Robot leader, with emotion and look believable.
I’ve also never seen a more beautiful dogfight in space. The splash panel of the battle beginning highlighted by the purple space sky is one of the more striking visuals Descender has delivered yet. But despite this, the greatest compliment that I can give the art is that it looks believable and possible despite their intense stylization.
Descender #22 is another worthy entry in the series and while the story is good and serves it’s purpose, despite minor gripes and character misuse, the art is truly where this issue shines. I would and have recommended this book on mere art alone.