Ascender #2 // Review
Mila learns more about her father in Ascender #2, by writer Jeff Lemire, artist Dustin Nguyen, and letterer Steve Wands. Lemire and company keep up the world building of the new status quo of the universe.
Mila, having found a robot, is scared of getting caught with it. Her father, Andy, finds them and Mila is surprised to learn the robot is his old robot dog, Bandit. On Gnish, Mother visits the King and demands he work harder to destroy the UGC rebels and leaves behind a watcher to make sure he does what she wants. Back on Sampson, Andy explains to Mila how the universe used to work when Bandit projects a hologram of another galaxy’s star charts. Unfortunately, Mother’s minions come to take Bandit and punish the family. Andy and Mila fight them off, and Andy decides they have to leave the planet, setting up the return of an old friend.
This early in the series, setting up the new status quo is very important, and Lemire does it and fit in a nice action scene as well, using it to show readers what happens when Mother’s forces come for robots. He’s also able to capture Mila’s sense of wonder of actually being around a real live robot. Everyone knows the history but being confronted by it is a different story. It’s a nice touch. Bandit projecting another galaxy’s star chart is tantalizing. Did Tim-21 send Bandit to lead Andy back to him? Is this where all the robots are? It’s all wonderfully paced, and that makes it all work so much better. None of the scenes feel rushed, and it’s all extremely satisfying.
One of the best parts of this issue is getting to see Mother’s forces in action. Mother and her powers are magic based, so they have flying imps, a vampire, a few orc looking fellows, and a grizzled old human, all wearing armor and carrying melee weapons. Of course, Andy doesn’t exactly play their game and has some of his tech to use, but even with that equalizer, they’re still very dangerous and almost take him out. It might seem far fetched that they have been able to defeat the high tech weapons of the UGC all these years, but seeing them in action makes it more believable.
Dustin Nguyen’s art is so perfect for this new chapter in the Descender mythos. One of the artistic highlights of the issue is the creature that Mother leaves the King of Gnish to watch over him. It’s a nightmare of tentacles and eyes, a floating monstrosity that readers get to see grow into its final form from a tiny little slip of a thing. The fight scene later in the book is expertly choreographed, and Nguyen makes the vampire leader a terrifying presence.
Ascender #2 delivers on all fronts. It hits all the right notes, combining world building, character work, and action in a perfectly paced comic. Jeff Lemire has long been one of the most consistently entertaining writers around, and this comic is yet another of his hits. He understands how to use a single issue to tell a full story, sowing seeds for the future and giving it all room to breathe. Dustin Nguyen’s art is likewise just as perfect for the book. His sci-fi stuff in Descender was great, but the more fantasy-oriented material that he’s been tasked with in Ascender might actually be better. Ascender #2 is the epitome of a creative team working in perfect sync, and it’s a joy to read.