REVIEW – Ascender #1

Ascender #1 - Image Comics

Written by Jeff Lemire

Art by Dustin Nguyen

Letters & Designs by Steve Wands

I remember the first time I read Descender.  It was one of the most beautiful books I had ever seen and, even in the first issue, struck me on an emotional level.  The heart and soul of that book was palpable from the very start.  I was very excited when I heard that storytellers Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen would be continuing that story.  A 10 year time jump, and some new characters later, we find ourselves in the pages of Ascender.  So let's tak a look at what's going on.

I will not be spoiling anything about the main points of this issue, but I will be referencing what has already been released on the Image website.  The story follows a young girl named Mila, who is the daughter of Andy and Effie, living on Sampson, what used to be the largest planet in the United Galactic Council.  The only problem is, machinery has given way to an evil ruler named Mother.  Another problem, Mother happens to be a powerful vampire with great magical ability.  We do get to see a lot of Mother in this issue, and it appears that she has all but taken over everything.  She is still facing a bit of a rebel resistence, and they may have a secret weapon.  We get a hint at what that might be, but not more than that.  Mila is young and just wants to live her life.  There are a lot of things holding her back from that, and I will let you argue which one is hindering her the most when  you read the issue.  The thing about kids is, they tend to grow up just like their parents.  If you read Descender, that should give you an idea of just how rebellious that Mila can be.  As she's off exploring the woods, she sees something in the sky that comes crashing down.  What she finds is something that longtime readers of Descender should be very familiar with.

At first when I started reading this book, I was a bit sad.  It's not because I didn't like the story, but more because of what things had become.  These spirited characters, in this wonderful world, now taken over by Mother.  The vibe just feels different, like there isn't as much hope as I felt when reading Descender.  Then it dawned on me, that is a huge compliment to the creative team.  That is how invested in these characters, and this story, that I am.  I want things back the way they were, and I want to see how/if that is going to happen.  It's also ease to forget that we're talking about something that started 30+ issues ago.  I also like that there isn't as much innocence in Mila as there was with say TIM-21.  She has a fire inside of her, and I love that we are seeing that different angle.  I do love that the two covers for each #1 issue kind of mirror one another.  It's another beautifully drawn book by Dustin Nguyen, and wonderfully crafted to fit the different vibe of this  story.  I also love that the lettering is different when we are with Mila, and when we are dealing with others.  It's a subtle thing, but it really works for me.  I fell in love with Descender, but I want to fight for Ascender.  I do get some Star Wars vibes here, and a few stories, but this still feels very much unique to me.  I am all in for this new story, and am happy that this creative team is back together.