This was billed as the first major “Descender” event, but it’s also going to be the title’s last. To my surprise, the back cover text told me that this is going to be the penultimate volume of the series. I was expecting “Descender” to have a longer run (50-60 issues is usually how long most creator-owned titles tend to run) and the fact that Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen are deciding to wrap this one up after five is probably for the best. At least, as far as I’m concerned. Five volumes in and this title still has yet to deviate from the familiar sci-fi playbook or develop a memorable cast on the level of Lemire’s other creator-owned works. Not helping matters is the fact that most of the dialogue in the series, and this volume in particular, can be described as “functionally expository.” There are also a couple character deaths that certainly look fatal but turn out not to be so. It leaves me to believe that the one significant death we get here might not be as permanent as its creators want us to think.
It’s not all bad for this volume. Befitting a storyline that was billed as a major event, Lemire and Nguyen do a decent enough job of raising the stakes and pulling out a couple game-changing moments. A planet blows up, characters are betrayed, Tim-21 meets a Harvester, and the Human Culls begin! It’s enough to raise the overall excitement level of the title from “okay” to “interesting.” I’ll also give the creators some credit for delivering a cliffhanger that at least sets up the possibility that we’ll finally get some answers to the questions kicking around since its beginning. Given the quality of “Descender” up to this point, I’m going to keep my expectations low. It would take some very special answers to get me to raise my overall estimation of this title. With only one volume left in its run, however, I might as well stick around to see what they are.