Review – Descendent #1 (AfterShock Comics)

Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Art: Evgeniy Bornyakov
Colours: Lauren Affe
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Cover: Juan Doe
Release Date: 1st May 2019

In this new series by writer and creator Stephanie Phillips, we are treated to a refreshing type of horror. We’re not talking ghosts or monsters, at least not the literal kind yet anyway, but the combination of conspiracy, child kidnap, and populism. I’m not saying that this is a political story but the first few pages firmly set us in the here and now, and it hooked me like a spangly new big budget TV thriller.

The premise is fairly straightforward, although I’d hazard a guess that a key component maybe resonates with Americans more than I as a limey reader. It certainly won’t ruin the read for you, but that reveal moment or the clues leading up to it may just fly over your head. Anyhoo, what we have here is a case of child abduction. A horrendous crime by any standards and, in of itself, the subject of countless tales in the media. Here though, the team sprinkle on some conspiratorial magic. We’ve got the straight talking, and probably jaded detective. There’s the dishevelled theorist who, if this were a TV show, would no doubt be played by some rugged-yet-handsome actor, and his ex-wife, the cool lawyer who says that this is definitely the last time she helps him out. Throw on some escalating weirdness to the abduction case and we’ve got a pretty well-rounded out first issue.

Descendent was a surprisingly easy read. Bornyakov, Affe, and Petteri have produced panels that are pleasing to the eye and I found myself going through this at quite a pace. Maybe there is a slight issue in that being so precise and clean I didn’t find my eye stopping on any specifics. Don’t get me wrong, the detailing is great and there’s lots of talent on show, particularly in the action and expressions, but I’m not sure it captured the darker nature of the story being told. It would be remiss of me not to also mention Juan Doe’s cover as it ticks the boxes for me. Striking, bold, and delivering a fair amount of unease that’ll make this stand out on the shelves.

Overall, I’m happy that this was suggested to me and I think it’s one of those slow burn stories that I really like. There’s great pacing, social commentary without being condescending or preachy (“thoughts and prayers…”), and nice touches to give a completely fresh take on the snatching idea. How do our opinions change on such a case, when we as an observer might not particularly like the parents? How does sentiment form based on perceptions rather than the whole, bigger picture? Of course, these may be secondary to the principle plot but the fact that the questions are weaved in there is a nice bonus.

There’s a lack of realism in some of the events as played out but we can shrug these of accepting that it’s for the benefit of the story, so I don’t see it necessarily as a flaw.  My biggest gripe is that the character of David, our scruffy conspiracy loon, is just too darned likeable. That said, Descendent looks set to be another good run from AfterShock.

Rating: 3.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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