Review – Descender #9 (Image Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Release Date: 13th January, 2016

As it represents the middle of the current ‘Machine Moon’ story arc, this issue functions as a holding pattern of sorts, allowing Jeff Lemire to present an exploration of where the characters find themselves in this emotionally charged, space-based epic, whilst simultaneously setting up exciting new threads as we head toward the arc’s conclusion.

There continues to exist a palpable threat to Tim-21’s security, both from within and without, and trust is starting to emerge as a defining theme of the series, following on from those of family and belonging. Tim-21 is an innocent caught in situation beyond his comprehension, and trusts those who have helped him thus far, although there are hints that a strong sense of duty, or just plain old corruption might lead to betrayal down the line. This extends to the relationships between supporting characters, who are also weary of each other’s motivations and loyalty, making for a thoroughly engrossing story.

Then there’s the complexities of the philosophical ideas Lemire is playing with in his depiction of robots wishing to be less human, highlighting just how complex and human-like they have actually become, and flipping the genre convention of A.I. machines seeking to be as human as possible. Seriously, is there anyone better at telling this type of story on this scale on the shelves today?

Speaking of bests in the business, Dustin Nguyen never fails to impress. Every page is a work of art; the watercolour washes creating a timeless, dream-like backdrop that appears to move and evolves from panel to panel. Loosely sketched figures appear grasped from the background, given presence just at the moment you read it. Each issue brings something new to my attention, and in this one it’s the nuances in facial expressions that caught my eye. Given that this issue is largely void of action, aside from a brief altercation involving Driller (I love that big Maximillian/Kup Dude), the fact that I remained fully engaged throughout is a testament to how strong the work truly is.

Although light on action, issue nine is still a richly rewarding read, and let’s face it, when a lower key issue of a book is this engrossing, you know you’re onto a winner.

Rating: 4/5.

MDAVThe Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
You can follow Martin on Twitter

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