Review by Jamie McNeil
When last we saw him TIM-21 was in danger and writer Jeff Lemire had left an amazing cliffhanger dangling at the end of Machine Moon. Resisting the urge to finish it immediately, Lemire decides to treat Singularities a little differently. His approach is to touch briefly on what happened in volumes 1-2, then use a different character to develop the plot in flashback. It’s unusual, but with the help of artist Dustin Nguyen he weaves beautiful stories for mining droid Driller, robo-dog Bandit, scrapper Andy and cyborg Queen Between/Effie.
Essentially Singularities is about ensuring there are no holes in the plot going forward, but doesn’t actually feel like that. Lemire’s major strength here is to breed even more curiosity about his players and how they are all inter-connected. Nguyen’s art has been impressive from the start, but this accentuates his skill at conveying emotional nuances. Emotional responses are masterful, adding a real depth and sincerity to the characters. Perhaps this is more noticeable because Nguyen is focused more on the scenery and settings. One example is a devastated mining colony on Dirishu, Andy and TIM’s home, the utterly bleak landscape creating a palpable sense of sorrow and loneliness. In other places he takes your breath away with stunning changes of perspective then wrenches your heart out with moving tender moments. Nguyen was always good, but improves with every volume. Singularities is full of good ideas, foremost is using different perspectives to develop the plot and characters, although that does also have its downside. Bandit’s viewpoint makes room for Nguyen to do his thing but is hard to follow.
These are good compelling stories proving that Descender is no mere action heavy space opera. It’s an unusual approach to crafting a series but an entertaining one. You’ll definitely appreciate it even more when you open up the fourth volume, Orbital Mechanics. Alternatively, this is combined with the previous two paperbacks in a Deluxe Edition hardcover.