By Ben Snyder
Often times Descender has felt plodding and been too wrapped up in it’ own convoluted mythos for its own good. But Descender #29 is a desperately needed change of pace. As Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen begin ramping up to this heavily anticipated endgame, the script and plot both begin to feel much faster and carry a greater sense of urgency. This is also one of the first issues of Descender where I didn’t feel as lost or bored at certain points as I felt in prior issues. It is fitting that with only a couple of issues left, Descender is pumping out some of the best issues since it’s beginning.
A large part of Descender #29’s success is how quick the tempo of the issue is. In other issues, Jeff Lemire is too entrenched in his own mythos and side plots/characters even where they are detrimental to the issue as a whole. But in chapter 29, Lemire is quick and to the point with each and every character and plot allowing the story to flow from beat to beat with little interruption.
Chapter 29 is also remarkable for its limited inclusion of the titular descenders. Tim-21 and his ancestor finally rejoin to contact their makers only to realize how ambivalent they are to the human’s plight. It also offers some closure that the original harvester appearance was, in fact, a warning from the descenders to change their path. Other satisfying moments included Quon’s return with robot legs and Blugger getting karate chopped in the head.
I often questioned Blugger’s continued presence in the story. It felt as though Lemire was going for a Han/ Chewie dynamic with Andy and Blugger, but instead Blugger read like an ass and totally unnecessary to the story and that theme still continues. However, now Blugger reads like an ass on purpose. It was also nice that Effie finally seems to be chipping away Andy’s scrapper exterior and reawakening his love for Tim and Bandit. For some reason it felt like Andy was over his robo-hate after he got reacquainted with Effie, but I guess there were some lingering issues.
The one constant in every issue of Descender has been Dustin Nguyen’s prolific watercolor styled art and chapter 29 is no exception. Nothing exceptionally wild happens artistic wise in this issue, but Nguyen’s interesting character designs and beautiful worlds really do shine in this chapter. The Descenders look foreign and advanced, Blugger looks gross, and the Hardwire look merciless. It all works to great effect. Perhaps the one misstep is how little space Nguyen gets to draw space in this issue. Often times, they seemed like highlights in other chapters as Nguyen’s colors and blending effects simply look stunning in these parts. We are left with a beautiful splash panel on the last page that sort of makes up for it though.
Descender #29 is a fantastically well done issue that sparks the initial interest I had in the series. Jeff Lemire ditches his usual trappings of convoluted mythos and side plots and instead options for more a straightforward approach as we gear towards the endgame and Nguyen’s art is can’t miss. Simply put if you have been keeping up Descender, Descender #29 gives you no reason to stop.