Ascender #1 Is A Wonderful Sci-Fantasy Adventure

by Tony Thornley

About nine months ago, Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s Descender came to an epic conclusion, changing the series sci-fi world in impossible ways. Ascender #1 returns to the same world, ten years and a completely different genre later.

Lemire, Nguyen, and Steve Wands return to their world in this sequel series.

Ten years ago, technology was destroyed and magic unleashed on the universe. A select few seized power, particularly a massively powerful witch calling herself Mother. Meanwhile, on what was once the center of the universe, a young girl named Mila makes a discovery that could change everything…

I came into the series almost totally fresh, having only read the first volume of Descender. Lemire crafts a story that is enjoyable for new readers, but is clearly full of tidbits to fans of the first series. He quickly crafts a fascinating world, frightening antagonists, and an interesting new heroine. It’s all done with a style that’s simple and lyrical, making it even more accessible and engaging.

Nguyen’s art is just stunning. Mother and her vampire lieutenants are terrifying, but they look great. The world around them is full of wonderful designs, such as the dragon-ships that are used to travel between worlds and the diverse alien races. Mila in particular is thoughtfully rendered as a child who is still very young, but is also wise beyond her years.

Beyond the design work, Nguyen is a great storyteller. He lays out pages to draw your eye through the story, and spotlight the important moments of Lemire’s script. He uses color as much as a tool as his designs and layouts, especially a fantastic use of deep reds throughout the issue.

Wands does amazing hand-lettered work throughout the issue. The lettering is almost as much a work of art as Nguyen’s watercolors. It immerses the reader even more deeply into the series’ universe.

In just a single issue, I’m drawn deeply into this world, and can’t wait to see what happens from here.

Ascender #1 is available now from Image Comics.

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