May 27, 2016

[Comics] Descender Vol. 2: Machine Moon

So I already wrote about how quickly I fell in love with the comic Descender. Apart from beautiful art and an interesting premise for the series, the central character is quite endearing in a way that feels a lot more endearing than the often unnerving sense that David was in A.I.

This second volume of Descender is an interesting expansion of this little take but also an effort to take the comic into somewhat of a new direction in order to expand the narrative further. At first felt like this was more meant to be a rather right mini-series or something. But this second volume of the book helps reinforce that this book is meant to tell a more epic tale.

In many ways, it's easy to compare this title with the likes of Saga as it does feel like another grand space opera tale that is well-grounded in the point of view of a few key characters. And while we don't have a cat that can detect lies or anything like that, but we do have a whole different set of characters with their own unique abilities.

Synopsis: Descender Vol. 2: Machine Moon is the second compilation of  the comic Descender. The book was written by Jeff Lemire with art by Duston Nguyen. The second volume covers issues 7-11 of the title.

The second book continues the journey Tim-21 and the team sent to understand what connects him with the fearsome robots known as the Harvesters that had destroyed so much of the known galaxy in the past. He has no idea what connection he may have either and his only hope is to get back to his original companion-owner.

The second book moves beyond seeing Tim-21 as a tool or a means to an end and helps bolster his character so we see him as a protagonist in his own right with his own goals. He wants to find his boy companion Andy even though all signs point to Andy having died with the rest of the mining colony so many years ago. It doesn't even seem like an actual plot hook - if anything it felt like an odd bit of his programming that would be dismissed as a character quirk. But it became quite the surprise when it did become a rather serious motivation for our little Tim.

This second volume helped shift the tone from being a little solemn and austere to be a lot more human an comfortable in its own skin. There were some serious efforts put into lightening things up and giving all characters more depth. Even the big bruiser of a mining bot is slowly taking on more of a personality as the story progresses.

There are a number of big twists in this book that really made the story a lot more interesting, They're the sort of twists that I really want to write about here in this review and yet at the same time I don't want to spoil the reading experience for you and so I remain silent. It's just one of those things.

On the whole, the book maintains a bit of a sense of this being a fantasy tale with a young boy-robot looking or his best friend. Combine this with Nguyen's art that is both impressionist yet beautifully detailed and you get quite a magical little tale indeed. And the feelings of delight and wonder combined with serious concern for the future of the characters makes for an interesting narrative experience indeed.

Thus Descender Vol. 2: Machine Moon is a great continuation of the story and demonstration that things can progress into a more complicated tale. For the most part the story has felt quite optimistic or at least with some sensitivity to things but this book represents things beginning to shift into something more serious and narratively complicated. Thus the book still gets a good 5 strange alien races out of a possible 5.

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