Comic Review – Descender #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week will have to be a quick one, as I’m in the middle of moving house so a bit pressed for time! I picked up Descender from Image Comics, a new sci-fi series written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered by Steve Wands.

Descender starts on the planet Niyrata, the technological and cultural centre of The United Galactic Council, comprising 9 different worlds. The roboticist Dr. Quon is woken by a call from the council – something has appeared above each of the core planets. As everyone planetside stares up at the sky, Quon is brought aboard a ship facing down a gigantic robot, later referred to as a Harvester, waiting dormant. Before they can study it though, the Harvester suddenly attacks, all of the Harvesters attack on every planet, killing billions. 10 years later, a young boy awakens on a lunar colony to find he is the last left alive. Sort of. Tim-21 is a robot, a child companion, but the mother and son he is attached to are nowhere to be seen. Back on Niyrata, Dr. Quon is approached again by the government. They have found a link between the Harvesters, who disappeared after their terrible wrath crippled the UGC, and the Tim series of robots via a shared codex. And one has just reactivated on the moon of Dirishu-6. Now they just have to get to him first before any scavengers or anti-robot fanatics do.

Lemire does some excellent world building (worlds building?) with this first issue, that shows a colossal enemy wreak havoc on society, disappearing as quickly as they appeared. We only get a glimpse of Dr. Quon, Tim-21 and Telsa, the government agent sent to pick up the doctor, but they all seem to be diverse and interesting characters that will hopefully be fleshed out as the series progresses. I really liked the way the sense of scale of the UGC and the utter devastation wrought on them was underlined by having the population counter for the moon and on Niyrata adjusting for events, at 5.53 billion before the arrival of the Harvester, dropping to 1 billion 10 years later. Nyugen’s art is sketchy and lush, with a washed out watercolour feel to the colours too. The Harvester looming above the planet is haunting, especially as it looks totally lifeless until it’s too late, and as a double splash page it is gorgeous.

Jeff Lemire tends to write interesting sci-fi, and here is no exception. It reminded me a lot of the Mass Effect universe, mixed with The Day After Tomorrow. If you like sci-fi, be sure to check this one out. Pick it up at your LCS or digitally.

Score: 8 Harvesters out of 10


Comic Review – Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

Shine your astro spurs and don your robot fists!

This week I was looking forward to picking up the first issue from The Thrilling Adventure Hour’s Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars series from Image comics. I only started listening to The Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast fairly recently, having got about halfway through the backlog that has built up over the last few years. For those who don’t know, TAH is a stage show in the style of old-time radio. Regular performers are often joined by cult guest stars to deliver various hilarious stories, and the shows are recorded and uploaded for podcasts. There are several regular series, all of which are very funny, but Sparks Nevada is my favourite (mainly because I love a space western). Now it has been translated (not for the first time I think) into a comic book series from Image, with another of the stage shows Beyond Belief coming soon too. As with the show itself, Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars was written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, with art by J. Bone, colours by Omi Remalante and letters from Marshall Dillon.

In this first story arc, ‘The Sad, Sad Song of Widow Johnson’, Sparks Nevada is escorting a coach across the red planet, with a cadre of deputybots. His old companion Croach the Tracker, with his Martian tribe still under onus to the Marshal, meets him along the way to warn him of danger ahead. They’re ambushed by a robot gang, but while Nevada and Croach hide the wagon, the robots themselves are attacked by the real danger – science aliens. The issue also contains the previously digital #0 issue, where Nevada meets Croach for the first time, and has to fight his previous malfunctioning deputybots. But as for those in the current series, well they’re “factory-promised to not go sentient and trouble-make this time.”

Unsurprisingly, as Acker and Blacker write the actual show, the comic is spot on for exactly what I expected in both story and dialogue. The situation is ridiculous and funny, with nothing being brought up as silly, rather it is just the way things are in the 31st century on the martian frontier. The characters’ back and forth, particularly Nevada and Croach, was so perfect that all I could hear were Marc Evan Jackson and Mark Gagliardi, the actors who play them in the shows, with every turn of the page. Nevada is brash and Croach condescending, as they bicker mid gun fight for no reason at all. J. Bone’s art is very cartoonish, fitting very well with this type of fun, over the top story. Oddly, I thought Nevada looked very much like Matt Smith’s Doctor, especially later on when he took to wearing long coats and occasionally a Stetson.  The action is dynamic and colourful, and even basic facial expressions are great at establishing the sardonic tone of what the characters are saying.

This was a tight, hilarious first issue of Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars. I can’t wait for more, and if this is the quality I can expect then I’m definitely going to check out Beyond Belief when it comes out too. If you like space westerns, laser fightin’ and robot fists, pick this up from your LCS or digitally. Also definitely check out The Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast, because it is excellent.

Score: 9 Deputybots out of 10