Ascender delivers another amazing issue, complete with laser blasters.
Jeff Lemire is, famously, a prolific writer, and his return to the comic universe he created with artist Dustin Nguyen and letterer Steve Wands, known as Descender, is resplendent and well worth the visit. That story was about a boy, Andy, and his robot brother, Tim-21, who ended up causing almost all robots in the galaxy to disappear and, as a result, governments collapsed and magic rose up in the place of technology, which was now banned. Ascender is set decades after that, and it follows Mila, Andy’s daughter, as the two of them cope with an oppressive existence under the evil grasp of Mother, a witch of immense power. Where Descender focused on technology, Ascender is clearly focused on magic, and that switch-up is not only a genius idea in terms of narrative, but also just plain cool.
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Bandit returns, and Mother watches, in Ascender
At the end of the last issue, Mila witnessed something crash on Sampson, the planet she and her father live on, and it turned out to be Bandit, her father’s dog-like robot from his youth. This issue starts out with her panicking, thinking she will be in trouble for finding the robot, but Andy shows up moments later and is brought to tears by seeing his childhood “pet”; later, he relates some details of that childhood to his daughter, who is dazzled to see an actual robot after only ever hearing about them. Meanwhile, Mother visits the king of Gnish and expresses her discontent with how badly he has been doing tracking down and destroying illegal tech by having her vampire general hand her a jar with a tentacled monster in it, pulling her own eyeball out and putting it in the monster, which grows larger as she tells the king it will now watch over him. Ascender is stunningly drawn by Nguyen, and the All-Seeing Eye perfectly encompasses that sentiment.
Ascender puts Andy and Mila on the path to see an old acquaintance
Andy is cleaning up Bandit when Mila accidentally activates a star chart of an unknown galaxy, which alerts Mother’s soldiers, attuned to tech via enchantments. Led by a vampire, the soldiers surround the house, while Andy opens a secret compartment and pulls out a laser cannon, with which he quickly kills several of Mother’s goons. As two of them fly away to bring reinforcements, the vampire busts through the roof and attacks Andy, who blasts him. Barely stunned, the vamp grabs Andy by the throat and tells him how he will become food. Ascender is excellent at making the story flow from page to page and, on the very next page, Mila rams a piece of wood through the vampire, saving her father. They grab basic supplies and prepare to flee to the Badlands, where illegal spaceships could take them off-world. We see that sitting in a boat in the Badlands is none other than Telsa, who featured prominently in Descender.
The tentacle monster was disgusting, watching Mila stake a vamp was exhilarating, and knowing that they’re headed to meet up with Telsa in the near future is invigorating; it feels like getting the old crew somewhat back together will be the beginning of a resistance against Mother. 10/10, crucially recommended. Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.