Technology is replaced with magic in Ascender No. 1


Ascender brings us back to a familiar place, now completely changed.

Stories about humanity have the ability to reach deep into our minds and our hearts and connect on a visceral level that can make us laugh out loud, feel uncomfortably singled out, get angry, and even cry. There’s a talented writer named Jeff Lemire who pens exactly those kinds of insightful stories, and he previously put one out called Descender, colored and illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered by Steve Wands, that was broadly about an android with so much humanity that when the robot apocalypse came, it tried to save humankind.

The same creative team have returned to continue the story, a decade after all robots disappeared from the galaxy, technology is looked down upon, and magic is making a resurgence. Calling this new perspective Ascender is a clever move, and the story looks to be just as good it’s progenitor.

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A classy blending of tropes in going down in Ascender

Putting magic in sci-fi stories is a genius move and whoever thought of it first should get a medal. Science fantasy is a perfect blend of the old and the new. Ascender starts us off ten years after robots disappeared from existence, thanks to the actions of TIM-21, who was crucial to the survival of humanity, and Andy, who was TIM-21’s childhood friend, now grown even older.

After the robots left, the different species began to enter a sort of technological Dark Age, and societies regressed and allowed magic to flourish, as witnessed by the introduction of Mother, a creepy witch who commands legions of vampires, controlling the technology allowed to the people she rules over. She seems like a real jerk, doing necromancy to further her evil plans for domination and whatnot.

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Ascender knows what it’s doing when it comes to likable protagonists

After Mother gets a mysterious message, the story shifts over to Sampson, a once-glorious planet decimated by the galactic war preceding the robot disappearance. We see a young girl getting in trouble at a local trade market, forced to let alien guards working for Mother scan her rune for identification purposes, which was a nifty take on the science/magic blend. The girl heads home and we discover that she is the daughter of Andy, a protagonist from the previous story. It’s just the two of them in a little hovel, so we know there’s some tragic backstory to the mother’s death, you know.

Andy is super-protective of his daughter Mila, which is understandable, considering what he’s been through. We learn that Effie, Andy’s love and Mila’s mother, somehow gave her life so that Mila could grow up free from Mother’s evil influence. The two fight, and Mila takes off.

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We witness Mother doing blood magic, consulting her coven, and she is warned of “the hound with the backwards tongue”. Mila is watching the sunset when she sees a meteor hit the planet near her. Upon investigating, she discovers that the meteor was actually Bandit, the dog-bot companion of TIM-21, and that the impact scrambled some circuitry, causing Bandit to “arf” backwards, making a “fra” sound. Bandit is the sign Mother was warned about, so clearly Mila, Andy, Bandit, and the evil Mother will be crossing paths soon. 10/10, highly recommended. Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.