Pulp #629

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Pulp #629

Hi there, and welcome back to yet another edition of Pulp! I hope you all had an excellent Christmas and New Year, and didn’t have to work as much as I did! While everyone else was getting distracted by a certain movie set in a galaxy far, far away (which I still haven’t seen, to my disgust), I was checking out a comic that I consider to be one of the best sci-fi stories I’ve read in ages: Jeff Lemire’s (relatively) new book, published by those fantastic folks at Image Comics: Descender. You might remember Lemire as the bloke that somehow managed to fix DC’s New 52 Green Arrow book and halt its further descent into idiocy, as well as being the author of the strange-yet-endearing post-apocalyptic Sweet Tooth. Now, it’s no secret that I’m a sci-fi fan – after all, my two favourite comics are Transmetropolitan and Saga – but in this case, I speak the truth. Descender, despite slipping under quite a few comic fans’ radars, is one of the best sci-fi stories out there at the moment.

Set in the far future, 10 years after a devastating attack by planet-sized robots known as Harvesters, a young android by the name of TIM-21 wakes up to find a galaxy that is vastly different to the one he remembers. His surrogate family are gone, all robots have been outlawed and any of his kind that resist are hunted down and killed by bounty hunters known as Scrappers. When his “father”, the founder of modern robotics, tracks him down and discovers that his machine code may hold the secrets to the Harvesters, TIM becomes the most wanted robot in the galaxy. Surrounded by Scrappers, empires and other threats, TIM sets out on a journey across the universe with his robot dog, Bandit and Driller, a bloodthirsty mining droid.

One of Descender’s selling points – beyond its entrancing story, of course – is definitely its artwork, fully painted by Dustin Nguyen (Batman: Heart of Hush, Lil’ Gotham). Every aspect of Descender’s art is spectacular, from the character design to the landscapes. From the pristine, stark white world of the prequel to the dusty, run-down confines of TIM’s mining colony home, Lemire and Nguyen have built a universe that you can’t help but fall in love with. While there isn’t a whole lot of character development, you can’t help but become attached to TIM-21; there’s something about the whole “little boy on a big adventure” storyline that appeals to even the stoniest of hearts.

In terms of design, Descender is both somewhat familiar and also rather unique; it shares its “polished” look with titles like Saga, yet the universe still feels like it stands on its own, particularly once more of the wider galaxy is established. Descender strikes me as a series that could run for years and still remain fresh, much like Saga, and I would follow it every step of the way. It isn’t very often that finishing a trade will make me immediately look for more – previous examples include Transmetropolitan and The Wicked + The Divine – but Descender very quickly joined the list. If you’ve gotten into a sci-fi mood with the release of the new Star Wars film, I highly recommend picking up Descender’s first trade, Tin Stars – it’s gonna blow your socks off.

Written by Alastair McGibbon