Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly reviews roundup.
Descender #15 (Image Comics)
(W) Jeff Lemire, (A/CA) Dustin Nguyen
Critically acclaimed Descender opened with the story of the abandoned robot, Tim-21, and for much of its run he has been the singular focus. In this issue we focus instead on the human boy he was assigned to, Andy. Descender #15 sees writer Jeff Lemire fills in the gaps in the ten years of lost history.
The lush watercolor art of Dustin Nguyen is the shining star of this issue as we jump through Andy’s formative years. He’s a little boy who just lost his entire world to the inscrutable Harvesters and he’s set on vengeance. In contrast to his anger, his love interest, Effie, questions the wholesale genocide of the thinking, feeling robots. Lemire draws clear parallels to the fear fueled genocides of our own history. In previous issues, we’ve already seen arena pits where robots fight to the death and the howl of a crowd hungry for synthetic blood. Lemire uses Andy lift to the curtain into the mind of a young man on the wrong side of history.
In sharp contrast,1 Tim-21 is a sweet lovable buddy ready to forgive the humans and people who are hunting him down, and Andy is shaping into a villain capable of terrifying things. Most of these turning points are gorgeously rendered in a sharp focus. Any time there’s a key moment in Andy’s life, Lemire hands the narrative reigns to Nguyen who focuses the art into haunting clarity.
Worth the read for the art alone, pick up the Descender series for everything from sad robots lost in space to angst fueled teenage romance.
Detective Comics #941 (DC Comics)
(W) Steve Orlando and James Tynion IV (A) Andy MacDonald (C) Anthony John Rauch, Jr.
The Night of the Monster Men arc began with Batman #7 with the main focus on Bruce’s leadership, and extended through Nightwing #5 where Dick investigates the origins of the monsters. Now with Detective Comics #941, we see how members of the Bat family are split and dealing with various complications separately. Colossal monsters that might as well have crawled out of your nightmares are not the usual type of Batman villains. When the resources and demented mind of Doctor Hugo Strange have come together in the past, the results have always been chaotic. Concurrently, a hurricane is coming through, two more monsters are at large, and the evacuated citizens of Gotham are getting irrationally hostile.
In the previous issue of Detective Comics, the group suffered a tragic loss, and it has impacted Batman’s decisions of directing several young people recently added to the crew. Procedures given to Spoiler, Nightwing, and the others are all defensive, while he and Batwoman take the 2nd monster head on. Most question his strategy, some even defy his orders, but they are aware of his heightened protective disposition.
Steve Orlando joins Detective Comics for the duration of the arc, which ensures consistency across all 3 titles. Even with alternating conflicts for each hero, Orlando and Tynion balance action and character development adequately. Andy MacDonald’s first issue illustrating for the series is a satisfying effort after Riley Rossmo’s terrifying monster men introduction in Batman #7. Accompanied by Anthony John Rauch, we see the monsters morph and adapt to counter the heroes, and there’s still a sense of horror with pages filled with colorful, dramatic detail to each monster.
This issue proves to be a must-read as evidenced by valuable story progression, and stellar images. Highlights include Gotham Girl’s inner battle with fear from her run-in with Psycho Pirate, Spoiler’s problem solving skills, and an attention grabbing ending to further advance the script. With 3 issues left, the feeling of uneasiness rises as the action and sense of crisis accelerate. Pick up Night of the Monster Men part 4 in Batman #8 coming mid-October.