Comic Review – Ascender #1

Ascender #1 CoverIf you have not already read Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s Descender, you should know that this series is the sequel to that. While you can read Ascender #1 without having read Descender, this first issue is a bit spoilery regarding the ending of Descender. So if you are the sort of person who likes to read these things in order, please ask us about ordering the TPs of Descender for you. Thank you.

Now… read on…

It has been ten years since the fall of the United Galactic Council. The worlds once making up a great space-faring empire are now largely separated, with magic having replaced machinery and a vampire witch known only as Mother ruling over all. Mother does not rule unopposed, however, and rumors have reached her ears from the captured souls of the UGC rebels who died fighting her forces of a great wizard with no name, whose light is greater than Mother’s darkness.

All of this is unknown to Mila – a young girl who dreams of the days when robots were real and spaceships still sailed among the stars. For reasons he will not explain, her father does not like to speak of those times, nor does he want her leaving their forest home to go to the villages run by the followers of Mother. Naturally this has only made Mila more curious and rebellious about the outside world, as she looks to the skies as if she could see her destiny in the stars…

This set-up may sound vaguely familiar to fans of classic fantasy. An idealistic child, hidden away from the world, who dreams of doing great things. An overprotective father who refuses to speak of the past. An evil witch who is all powerful yet paranoid of opposition.  Hero’s Journey 101.

What will likely make Asecender different from other fantasy comics is how these classic elements are ultimately assembled and turned upon each other. Creators Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen did the same thing in Descender, which also started off with a basic science-fiction set-up and dealt with a number of classic themes and stock characters before twisting everything around to become something unique in its execution. 

It’s a bit early to say just where the story is going, but that’s typical for Lemire, who loves his slow boiling stories. A firm foundation is established, however, though there’s nothing to really grip the reader and encourage them to continue beyond Lemire’s reputation as a writer and how much they enjoyed Descender. I suspect this series’ story will prove worth the wait once it gets going.

Nguyen remains in fine form. His artwork has always had an ethereal quality to it that didn’t quite seem to fit the hard-science fiction themes of Descender. Ironically, that only made Descender all the more memorable, though Nguyen continues to play to his strengths drawing strange creatures, with the background scenes full of the exotic aliens from Descender rather than orcs and elves and the like.

As with the original series, it’s hard to pinpoint a precise audience for Ascender. Fantasy fans in the mood for something unique would do well to check this out, as would sci-fi fans who might be interested in the idea of a post-apocalyptic society in space mixed with magic. Personally, I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a change of pace, no matter what they usually read. Just be warned that even with the main character being a 9 year old girl, this is no kid’s book.


Ascender #1 releases on April 24, 2019!

Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.




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