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Ascender #1 review: A breath of fresh air

A familiar creative team has delivered a solid series that stands out from the rest of the pack.

In this crazy world we live in, it’s always pleasant to return to the innocence of childhood. That’s the premise of Jeff Lemire soft reboot/sequel of his hit series Descender, but while that comic was about endings, Ascender focuses on new beginnings. First and foremost, a foray into new genre territory.

Genre Transition

New protagonist Mila and a face more than a few fans might recognize. Image Comics

As with most of Lemire’s work, the story begins slow, but steady in a form that does not overwhelm the reader. While it is helpful to have read the previous series, it’s also an easy jumping on point for new readers. Even elements of fantasy Lemire adds in transition seamlessly. The tone of the story is set early, in the vein of 1977’s Star Wars.

This is a new world. Following the events of Descender #32, science and technological have for the most part disappeared and now magic has returned. Dragons replace starships, wands replace guns and robots…well, the robots have all disappeared. In their place has stepped the ominously named Mother, the typical “Dark Lord” common in fantasy. And at the bottom of this fantasy world is our new protagonist Mila, daughter to Andy from the original series and eager to escape a confining existence.

The insidious Mother. Image Comics

Now on paper all this feels like something we’ve all seen before, and it is. It’s the stereotypical kids book that’s been written about, made into movies and yes, illustrated in comics for the over 20 years. But with Lemire’s skillful writing and world building, it works. Let’s hope as the series progresses he can avoid falling into the narrative shortfalls of a traditional fantasy story.

Last Minute Mention

I cannot give enough praise to artist Dustin Nguyen. His lines and colors are unique, beautiful and alive all at once. In an age where exceptional artistry is almost the norm, it’s good to know Nguyen has maintained his style with an individualism that stands the test of a market flooded with talent.

Studio Ghibli is screaming in jealousy somewhere right now. Image Comics


All in all, this is a solid start of a breathtaking series that is no doubt going places. Lemire and Nguyen have shocked new life into a series with a new direction and an interesting path to follow. It may be treading a path we have seen before, but I’m still sticking along for the ride.

Ascender #1
Is it good?
A familiar creative team has delivered a solid series that stands out from the rest of the pack.
A fitting continuation of Descender
Welcoming to new fans
Incredible artwork
The story is a bit derivative. But let's give it a chance.

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